Emma Thompson

updated 05/03/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/03/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

No matter how many kudos she collects, this British beauty won't get serious about her looks. "My grin kind of splits my head open," Emma Thompson once insisted. Like a treasure chest, we say, because one of the sexiest parts of this Cambridge-educated star is her mind. Her flinty intelligence gives off sparks. "The thinking man's crumpet," one London paper cheekily called her, but we see a more substantial feast. Just for a moment, take your eyes off the sunny coils of her hair and her camera-friendly eyes. Attend instead to the restless wit that fashions her sly expressions in Howards End, the film for which she won 13 awards—including this year's Best Actress Oscar.

At 34, the London-based Thompson is one half of a showbiz royal couple. She and actor-director husband Kenneth Branagh, 32, occupy thrones in theater and film. Their stage performance of Look Back in Anger aired on the Bravo channel, and on the big screen they've done Dead Again and will soon romp together in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Come fall, this daughter of actor parents appears as a housekeeper in Remains of the Day. Costar Christopher Reeve is super-right when he says that Thompson has "the sense of humor and style of Katharine Hepburn and the artistic integrity of Vanessa Redgrave." Not to mention a Cheshire cat smile, one that asks, "Wouldn't you love to know what I'm thinking?" That we would, Emma—it's an essential part of your appeal.

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