Kenneth Branagh

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Sir

Kenneth Branagh
KennethBranaghApr2011.jpg
Branagh in 2011
Born
Kenneth Charles Branagh

(1960-12-10) 10 December 1960 (age 58)
Nationality British and Irish
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation
Years active1981–present
Home town Reading, Berkshire, England
Spouse(s)
Partner(s) Helena Bonham Carter
(1994–1999)

Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh ( /ˈbrænə/ ; born 10 December 1960) [1] is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and in 2015 succeeded Richard Attenborough as its president. He has both directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, including Henry V (1989) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), Love's Labour's Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006).

Film director Person who controls the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film production

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.

A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working independently, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting the script; coordinating writing, directing, and editing; and arranging financing.

Screenwriter writer who writes for TV, films, comics and games

A screenplay writer, scriptwriter or scenarist is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.

Contents

Branagh has starred in numerous other films and television series including Fortunes of War (1987), Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), as the voice of Miguel in The Road to El Dorado (2000), as SS leader Reinhard Heydrich in Conspiracy (2001), Shackleton (2002), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Warm Springs (2005), as Major General Henning von Tresckow in Valkyrie (2008), The Boat That Rocked (2009), Wallander (2008–2016), My Week with Marilyn (2011) as Sir Laurence Olivier (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), and as Royal Navy Commander Bolton in the action-thriller Dunkirk (2017). He has directed such films as Dead Again (1991), in which he also starred, Swan Song (1992) (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) in which he also starred, The Magic Flute (2006), Sleuth (2007), the Marvel superhero film Thor (2011), the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) in which he also co-stars, the live-action adaptation of Disney's Cinderella (2015), and the mystery drama adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (2017), in which he also starred as Hercule Poirot.

<i>Fortunes of War</i> (TV series) television series

Fortunes of War is a 1987 BBC television adaptation of Olivia Manning's cycle of novels Fortunes of War. It stars Kenneth Branagh as Guy Pringle, lecturer in English Literature in Bucharest during the early part of the Second World War, and Emma Thompson as his wife Harriet. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson met filming the TV series and married in real life. Other cast members included Ronald Pickup, Robert Stephens, Alan Bennett, Philip Madoc and Rupert Graves. The series stays relatively faithful to the original novels, with no notable departures from their plot.

Woody Allen American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, author, playwright, and musician

Heywood "Woody" Allen is an American director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades.

<i>Celebrity</i> (film) 1998 comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen

Celebrity is a 1998 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and features an ensemble cast. The screenplay describes the divergent paths a couple takes following their divorce.

He narrated the series Cold War (1998), the BBC documentary miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs (1999) (as well as The Ballad of Big Al ), Walking with Beasts (2001) and Walking with Monsters (2005). Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, and has won three BAFTAs, and two Emmy Awards. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and was knighted on 9 November 2012. [2] He was made a Freeman of his native city of Belfast in January 2018. [3]

<i>Cold War</i> (TV series) television documentary series

Cold War is a twenty-four episode television documentary series about the Cold War that aired in 1998. It features interviews and footage of the events that shaped the tense relationships between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

<i>Walking with Dinosaurs</i> documentary television miniseries

Walking with Dinosaurs is a six-part documentary television miniseries created by Tim Haines and produced by BBC Natural History Unit. The series first aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom in 1999 with narration by Kenneth Branagh. The series was subsequently aired in North America on the Discovery Channel in 2000, with Avery Brooks replacing Branagh. The programme explores ancient life of the Mesozoic Era, portraying dinosaurs and their contemporaries in the style of a traditional nature documentary.

Early life

Branagh, the middle of three children, was born in Belfast, the son of working class Protestant parents Frances (née Harper) and William Branagh, a plumber and joiner who ran a company that specialised in fitting partitions and suspended ceilings. [4] He lived in the Tigers Bay area of the city [5] and was educated at Grove Primary School. [6]

Belfast City in the United Kingdom, capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the second-largest city on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.

Working class Social class composed of members of the society employed in lower tier jobs

The working class comprises those engaged in waged or salaried labour, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. Members of the working class rely for their income exclusively upon their earnings from wage labour; thus, according to the more inclusive definitions, the category can include almost all of the working population of industrialized economies, as well as those employed in the urban areas of non-industrialized economies or in the rural workforce.

Protestantism in Ireland Religious community

Protestantism is a Christian minority on the island of Ireland. In the 2011 census of Northern Ireland, 48% (883,768) described themselves as Protestant, which was a decline of approximately 5% from the 2001 census. In the 2011 census of the Republic of Ireland, 4.27% of the population described themselves as Protestant. In the Republic, Protestantism was the second largest religious grouping until the 2002 census in which they were exceeded by those who chose "No Religion". Some forms of Protestantism existed in Ireland in the early 16th century before the English Reformation, but demographically speaking these were very insignificant and the real influx of Protestantism began only with the spread of the English Reformation to Ireland. The Church of Ireland was established by King Henry VIII of England, who had himself proclaimed as King of Ireland.

At the age of nine, he moved with his family to Reading, Berkshire, England, to escape the Troubles. [7] [8] He was educated at Whiteknights Primary School and Meadway School, a local comprehensive in Tilehurst, [9] [10] where he appeared in school productions such as Toad of Toad Hall [11] and Oh, What a Lovely War! . [12] At school, he acquired Received Pronunciation to avoid bullying. On his identity today he has said, "I feel Irish. I don't think you can take Belfast out of the boy", and he attributes his "love of words" to his Irish heritage. [13] [14] He attended the amateur Reading Cine & Video Society (now called Reading Film & Video Makers) [15] as a member and was a keen member of Progress Theatre for whom he is now the patron. After disappointing A'levels results in English, History and Sociology [16] , Branagh nonetheless went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. [17] In 1980 the Principal of RADA, Hugh Cruttwell, asked Branagh to perform a soliloquy from Hamlet for Queen Elizabeth II, during one of her visits to the academy. [18]

Reading, Berkshire Place in England

Reading is a large, historic university and minster town in Berkshire, England, of which it is now the county town. It is in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway. Reading is 70 miles (110 km) east of Bristol, 24 miles (39 km) south of Oxford, 40 miles (64 km) west of London, 14 miles (23 km) north of Basingstoke, 12 miles (19 km) south-west of Maidenhead and 15 miles (24 km) east of Newbury as the crow flies.

The Troubles Ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland

The Troubles was an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland during the late 20th century. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an "irregular war" or "low-level war". The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Although the Troubles primarily took place in Northern Ireland, at times the violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England, and mainland Europe.

Tilehurst suburb of Reading in Berkshire, England

Tilehurst is a suburb of the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. It lies to the west of the centre of Reading, and extends from the River Thames in the north to the A4 road in the south. The suburb is partly within the boundaries of the Borough of Reading and partly in the district of West Berkshire. The part within West Berkshire forms part of the civil parish of Tilehurst, which also includes the northern part of Calcot and a small rural area west of the suburb. The part within the Borough of Reading includes the Reading electoral ward of Tilehurst, together with parts of Kentwood and Norcot wards.

Career

Theatre

Branagh achieved some early measure of success in his native Northern Ireland for his role as Billy, the title character in the BBC's Play for Today [19] trilogy known as the Billy Plays (1982–84), written by Graham Reid and set in Belfast.

<i>Play for Today</i> television series

Play for Today is a British television anthology drama series, produced by the BBC and transmitted on BBC1 from 1970 to 1984. During the run, more than three hundred programmes, featuring original television plays, and adaptations of stage plays and novels, were transmitted. The individual episodes were between fifty and a hundred minutes in duration. A handful of these plays, including Rumpole of the Bailey and The Blackstuff, subsequently became television series in their own right.

J. Graham Reid is a playwright from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

He received acclaim in the UK for his stage performances, first winning the 1982 SWET Award for Best Newcomer, for his role as Judd in Julian Mitchell's Another Country , after leaving RADA. Branagh was part of the 'new wave' of actors to emerge from the Academy. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Bruce Payne and Fiona Shaw. In 1984 he appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V , directed by Adrian Noble. The production played to sold out audiences, especially at the Barbican in the City of London. It was this production that he adapted for the film version of the play in 1989. He and David Parfitt founded the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, following success with several productions on the London 'Fringe', including Branagh's full-scale production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric Studio, co-starring with Samantha Bond. The first major Renaissance production was Branagh's Christmas 1987 staging of Twelfth Night at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, starring Richard Briers as Malvolio and Frances Barber as Viola, and with an original score by actor, musician and composer Patrick Doyle, who two years later was to compose the music for Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V . This Twelfth Night was later adapted for television.

Branagh became a major presence in the media and on the British stage when Renaissance collaborated with Birmingham Rep for a 1988 touring season of three Shakespeare plays under the umbrella title of Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, which also played a repertory season at the Phoenix Theatre in London. It featured directorial debuts for Judi Dench with Much Ado About Nothing (starring Branagh and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice), Geraldine McEwan with As You Like It , and Derek Jacobi directing Branagh in the title role in Hamlet , with Sophie Thompson as Ophelia. Critic Milton Shulman of the London Evening Standard wrote: "On the positive side Branagh has the vitality of Olivier, the passion of Gielgud, the assurance of Guinness, to mention but three famous actors who have essayed the role. On the negative side, he has not got the magnetism of Olivier, nor the mellifluous voice quality of Gielgud nor the intelligence of Guinness." [20]

A year later in 1989 Branagh co-starred with Emma Thompson in the Renaissance revival of Look Back in Anger . Judi Dench directed both the theatre and television productions, presented first in Belfast then at the London Coliseum and Lyric Theatre.

In 2002, Branagh starred at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield as Richard III. In 2003 he starred in the Royal National Theatre's production of David Mamet's Edmond . Branagh directed The Play What I Wrote in England in 2001 [21] and directed a Broadway production in 2003. [22] [23] From September to November 2008, Branagh appeared at Wyndham's Theatre as the title character in the Donmar West End revival of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov in a new version by Tom Stoppard. His performance was lauded as the "performance of the year" by several critics. [24] It won him the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Male Performance but did not get him a Laurence Olivier Award nomination, to the surprise of critics. [25]

In July 2013 he co-directed Macbeth at Manchester International Festival with Rob Ashford. With Branagh in the title role, Alex Kingston played Lady Macbeth and Ray Fearon featured as Macduff. The final performance of the completely sold out run, was broadcast to cinemas on 20 July as part of National Theatre Live. [26] He repeated his performance and directorial duties opposite Ashford and Kingston when the production moved to New York City's Park Avenue Armory in June 2014. The production marked his Broadway stage debut. [27]

In April 2015, Branagh announced his formation of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, in which he would appear as actor-manager. With the company, he announced he would present a season of five shows at London's Garrick Theatre from October 2015 – November 2016. The shows were The Winter's Tale , a double bill of Harlequinade and All On Her Own, Red Velvet , The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer . Branagh directed all but The Entertainer, in which he starred. Branagh also starred in The Winter's Tale , Harlequinade and The Painkiller. Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company also includes Judi Dench (The Winter's Tale), Zoë Wanamaker (Harlequinade/All On Her Own), Derek Jacobi, Lily James and Richard Madden (Romeo and Juliet) and Rob Brydon (The Painkiller). In September 2015 was announced that The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet, and The Entertainer would be broadcast in cinemas, in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment. [28]

Film

Branagh is known for his film adaptations of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V (1989), followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love's Labour's Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but premiered on television in the U.S., where it aired on HBO in August 2007.

Notable non-Shakespeare films in which Branagh has appeared include Dead Again (1991) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West (1999), provided the voice of Miguel, a con artist in the DreamWorks Animation film The Road to El Dorado (2000), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and as Major General Henning von Tresckow in Valkyrie (2008). He starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He also played the Minister, Dormandy (a parody of PMG Tony Benn), in the film The Boat That Rocked (2009).

Although he had a notable uncredited role as SS-Sturmbannführer Knopp in director Thomas Carter's 1993 film Swing Kids , between 1989 and 1996 Branagh mostly directed his own films, including Peter's Friends, with a cast including former student friends Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery and Stephen Fry, as well as Imelda Staunton and Rita Rudner; but the commercial and critical failure of Love's Labour's Lost ended his directorial career for a time. In 2006, the same year that Branagh's film version of As You Like It was released, he also directed a film version of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute . Branagh has also directed the thriller Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film. At a film promotion for Valkyrie in 2008, Branagh confirmed that he would be directing Thor , a film based on the Marvel superhero. [29] Thor, Branagh's return to big-budget directing, was released on 6 May 2011. [30] In 2011, Branagh portrayed Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn , which nabbed him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 84th Academy Awards. Branagh directed Disney's live-action adaptation of Cinderella (2015). [31] Branagh played a Royal Navy Commander in Christopher Nolan's 2017 action-thriller Dunkirk , based on the British military evacuation of the French city of Dunkirk in 1940 during World War II. [32]

Branagh directed and starred in a film adaptation of Agatha Christie's detective novel Murder on the Orient Express (2017) as Hercule Poirot. Production began in London in November 2016. [33] Like Branagh's Hamlet in 1996, [34] it is among the very few to use 65mm film cameras since 1970. [35] In 2018, he directed the film All Is True , in which he starred as William Shakespeare. In May 2019, Branagh was cast in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet , set for release in July 2020. [36]

Branagh has frequently reused actors, including Brian Blessed, Judi Dench, Robin Williams, Derek Jacobi, Nonso Anozie, Richard Briers, Stellan Skarsgård, Helena Bonham Carter, John Gielgud, Josh Gad, Ian Holm, and Emma Thompson.

Television

Branagh has been involved in several made-for-TV films. Among his most acclaimed portrayals is that of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the film Warm Springs (2005), for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. The film received 16 Emmy nominations, winning five (including Outstanding Made for Television Movie); Branagh did not win the award for his portrayal. He received an Emmy for his portrayal of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich in the TV film Conspiracy (2001), a depiction of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials decided on the Final Solution. In 2002 Branagh starred in the two-part television movie Shackleton, a dramatisation of the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition's battle for survival, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award and an Emmy. [37] In 1998 he narrated the 24-episode documentary series Cold War. [38] Branagh also narrated the BBC documentaries Walking with Dinosaurs , World War I in Colour , Walking with Beasts and Walking with Monsters , and the BBC miniseries Great Composers.

Branagh is the star of the English-language Wallander television series, adaptations of Henning Mankell's best-selling Wallander crime novels. Branagh plays the eponymous Inspector Kurt Wallander and also serves as the executive producer of the series. The first series of three episodes was broadcast on BBC One in November and December 2008. [39] Branagh won the award for best actor at the 35th Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards (2009). It was his first major television award win in the UK. [40] He received his first BAFTA TV on 26 April 2009 for the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. [41] For his performance in the episode One Step Behind, he was nominated in the Outstanding Actor, Miniseries or Movie category of the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. [42] The role also gained him a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards. [43] The second Wallander series of three episodes aired initially in January 2010 on the BBC, and the third season aired in July 2012. [44] The fourth and final series was shot from October 2014 to January 2015 and premiered on German TV, dubbed into German, in December 2015; it aired in the UK, with its original English soundtrack, in May and June 2016.

Radio

Branagh has played the title role in BBC radio broadcasts of Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac , and the role of Edmund in King Lear. [45]

Other work

Branagh has narrated several audiobooks, such as The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis [46] and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Branagh in July 2009 at the Roma Fiction Fest, where he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award KennethBranaghRFFJuly09.jpg
Branagh in July 2009 at the Roma Fiction Fest, where he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award

Branagh participated in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony portraying Isambard Kingdom Brunel during the Industrial Revolution segment, "pandemonium" giving the speech from The Tempest originally read by the character Caliban. [47] [48]

Personal life

From 1989 to 1995, Branagh was married to actress Emma Thompson. They appeared together in Fortunes of War , Look Back in Anger, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Dead Again , and Peter's Friends . More recently, they both appeared in The Boat That Rocked , though with no shared scenes. During their marriage, and while directing and co-starring with Helena Bonham Carter in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , he began an affair with Bonham Carter. After Thompson divorced him, he and Bonham Carter were in a well-publicised relationship for several years. In 2003, he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock, [49] whom he met during the shooting of Shackleton . [50]

Branagh is a Christian, and noted that he became "much more religious" after listening to Sir Laurence Olivier's dramatic reading of the Bible every morning in preparation for his role as Olivier in My Week With Marilyn. [51]

He is a fan of English football club Tottenham Hotspur, the Northern Irish football club Linfield and Scottish football club Rangers. [52] [53]

Honors

Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, the first man to be nominated for five different categories. His first two nominations were for Henry V (one each for directing and acting). He also received similar BAFTA Award nominations for his film work, winning one for his direction. His first BAFTA TV award came in April 2009, for Best Drama Series (Wallander). Branagh's two other Academy Award nominations were for the 1992 film short subject Swan Song and for his work on the screenplay of Hamlet in 1996. His most recent is for his portrayal of Lord Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn .

He is Honorary President of NICVA (the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action). He received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Queen's University of Belfast in 1990. He is also a patron for the charity Over The Wall. [54]

Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000. In 2001 he was appointed an honorary Doctor of Literature at the Shakespeare Institute of The University of Birmingham; the Shakespeare Institute Library keeps the archive of his Renaissance Theatre Company and Renaissance Films.

On 10 July 2009, Branagh was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RomaFictionFest. [55]

He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to drama and to the community in Northern Ireland. [2] [56] He received the accolade at Buckingham Palace on 9 November 2012; afterwards, Branagh told a BBC reporter that he was "humble, elated, and incredibly lucky" to be knighted. [2]

In October 2015, it was announced that Branagh would be the new President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), succeeding the late Lord Attenborough. [57] As the President of RADA and one of the highest profile actors and filmmakers in contemporary British popular culture, Branagh appeared on Debrett's 2017 list of the most influential people in the UK. [58]

In October 2017, it was announced that Branagh would be conferred with the Freedom of the City of Belfast. [59] The honour was officially conferred on him by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, at a ceremony in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on 30 January 2018. [3]

Filmography

Awards and nominations

Discography

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