School of Philosophy and Economic Science: Emily Watson tells us about her weird childhood

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-9440473/Guts-guilt-making-Emily-Watson.html

GUTS, GUILT & THE MAKING OF EMILY WATSON 
BY JULIA LLEWELLYN SMITH 11 Apr 2021
EMILY WATSON GREW UP IN THE STRANGE WORLD OF THE SCHOOL OF PHILOSOPHY AND ECONOMIC SCIENCE. 
“Her achievements come after what she calls a ‘very unusual’ childhood in North London, when her middle-class parents – architect father and teacher mum – became members of the School of Philosophy and Economic Science, which Emily’s described as ‘a quasi-religious organisation/cult’ based on Hindu teachings, where women had to wear long dresses and ‘keep their place’.”
Find out more about what she experienced. 
https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/category/other/school-of-philosophy-and-economic-science/


She’s searingly honest about the ups and downs of her marriage, the therapy that helped her come to terms with her unconventional upbringing, and how she rejected Hollywood as ‘unsafe’. In her most outspoken interview ever, the Oscar-nominated actress opens up to Julia Llewellyn Smith  
‘I was raised as a guilty soul and I’ve felt guilty ever since,’ says Emily Watson. ‘There’s been a lot of therapy in my life.’ Coming from the fun, totally down-to-earth woman chatting to me on Zoom, it’s a startling comment.
Laughing about subjects such as the dreaded middle-aged moment when you realise you need a chain to keep you from losing your reading glasses, or your teenagers’ mortification at your mere existence, Emily, 54, comes across as a savvy, wise friend.
Yet Emily’s life has been very different from anyone else’s I know. Obviously, she’s well known as one of our most accomplished actresses, with two Oscar nominations to her name – for her film debut Breaking the Waves and Hilary and Jackie in the late 1990s. More recently, she’s starred in numerous hits television shows such as Apple Tree Yard, Chernobyl and Little Women.
Her achievements come after what she calls a ‘very unusual’ childhood in North London, when her middle-class parents – architect father and teacher mum – became members of the School of Philosophy and Economic Science, which Emily’s described as ‘a quasi-religious organisation/cult’ based on Hindu teachings, where women had to wear long dresses and ‘keep their place’.
The family had no television and, while Emily doesn’t like discussing details about home life, other former members of the organisation – which flourished in the 1960s and 70s – have reported being banned from listening to music composed after the 18th century, plus spending hours meditating and studying Sanskrit.
Emily and her elder sister attended a school run by the organisation, which was accused of assaulting pupils following an investigation in 2005. She’s reluctant to go into details, saying she ‘knew how to stay out of trouble’, but she witnessed ‘incidents of extreme cruelty which have been very scarring for people going forward in their lives.
‘There are some very mysterious contradictions about my childhood,’ says Emily, who’s the mother of Juliet, 15, and Dylan, 12. ‘I ostensibly had a very loving family, but my parents put me into a situation that – with what I know now – I would never put my children into. They thought they were doing their best but there was a very big disconnect between what they thought and the reality.


‘People felt very obedient to the notion of it all, very passionate about the direction everything was going in, so where other people would have gone, “Whoa, that’s not right”, they turned a blind eye,’ she says. ‘It was a new situation, which was making itself up as it went along, so there was no sense of governance – which is really not great. But as a child born into it you don’t know any of that. Forty years later, you go, “Ooh, hang on a minute…”
‘Actually,’ Emily continues, ‘I think I always knew things weren’t right, but the fear of stepping outside the system was very strongly drilled into you. You knew that if you left the organisation you’d be exposing yourself to grave danger. So it was a long process to go, “I’m fine and I’m going to walk away.”’
In the end, the decision was taken out of Emily’s hands when, aged 28, she signed up to Breaking the Waves, the searing and very graphic film about a young woman whose disabled husband forces her to have sex with other men.
‘When I agreed to do the film, [the organisation] gave me a good boot and told me to go on my undignified way.’ Those exact words? ‘Yes. I didn’t tell anyone at the time; it was painful, but now I think it was a good experience for an actor because we need to let go and be ugly and undignified.’


In the next few years, Emily’s acting career went stellar. She was offered every role going and turned down plenty of prominent parts, including the lead in Elizabeth, which ended up going to Cate Blanchett, and Amélie, which had been specially written for her but eventually was taken by Audrey Tautou. ‘Amélie was at a time in my life when I’d been away a lot; I needed to be at home more, and, anyway, the film was in French, which I don’t speak, and I’d seen Juliette Binoche [speaking English badly] in Wuthering Heights and thought “Hmm, no!”’
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