Kenneth Branagh


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Things didn’t go so well in 1994 with 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein', which Branagh both directed and then cast himself as the mad doctor, Frankenstein. It had many doubting the director's hitherto golden touch. An adaptation of 'Othello' the following year, in which Branagh was cast as Iago received a similarly lackluster reception. Next was all-star, uncut, 1996 adaptation of 'Hamlet'. Clocking in at four hours and featuring a peroxided Branagh as the Danish prince, Julie Christie as Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Sir Derek Jacobi as Claudius, and such actors as Robin Williams, Charlton Heston, and Jack Lemmon in other roles, it was hardcore Shakespeare for the masses. Although many potential audience members were scared off by the film's length, it won a number of positive reviews, and Branagh garnered a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, Branagh's subsequent efforts met with either disdain or indifference. Falling into the latter category were The Proposition, The Theory of Flight, and Robert Altman's The Gingerbread Man. Off the screen, he was still keeping busy with Shakespeare, adapting Love's Labour's Lost into a perplexing, '30s-style musical featuring the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Matthew Lillard, and Nathan Lane. A variety of leading roles in better received features followed in 2002, however, including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' (2002), and the excellent TV miniseries 'Shackleton' (2002). It is alleged he refused a CBE in 1994.


"I think the best actors are the most generous, the kindest, the greatest people and at their worst they are vain, greedy and insecure."

"I feel more Irish than English. I feel freer than British, more visceral, with a love of language. Shot through with fire in some way. That's why I resist being appropriated as the current repository of Shakespeare on the planet. That would mean I'm part of the English cultural elite, and I am utterly ill-fitted to be."


'Beginning' 1989

Suggested films to see:

Fortunes of War (1987)
Henry V (1990)
Hamlet (1996)
Shackleton (2002)



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