Edit
Kenneth Branagh Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (54) | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 December 1960Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Birth NameKenneth Charles Branagh
Nickname Ken
Height 5' 9½" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter born in 1930, and Frances (Harper) Branagh, also born in 1930. His brother, William Branagh Jr., was born in 1955 and sister, Joyce Branagh, was born in 1970. At 23, Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he took on starring roles in "Henry V" and "Romeo and Juliet". He soon found the RSC too large and impersonal and formed his own, the Renaissance Theatre Company, which now counts Prince Charles as one of its royal patrons. At 29, he directed and starred in the film Henry V (1989), which costarred his then-wife, Emma Thompson. The film brought him Best Actor and Best Director Oscar nominations. In 1993, he brought Shakespeare to mainstream audiences again with his hit adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (1993), which featured an all-star cast that included Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves. At 30, he published his autobiography and, at 34, he directed and starred as "Victor Frankenstein" in the big-budget adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein (1994), with Robert De Niro as the monster himself. The bad reviews may have had some effect on his marriage, though, because, in October 1995, he and Thompson announced their plans to divorce. In 1996, Branagh wrote, directed and starred in a lavish adaptation of Hamlet (1996). In recent years, he starred in a series of non-Bard-related roles in Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), and as a voice in The Road to El Dorado (2000).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: TrendEkiD@aol.com

Spouse (2)

Lindsay Brunnock (24 May 2003 - present)
Emma Thompson (20 August 1989 - 1 October 1995) (divorced)

Trade Mark (5)

Likes to use very long takes (3-4 minutes) at certain points during his films.
Frequently casts his ex-wife Emma Thompson
Frequently gives small roles to Patrick Doyle, his composer
Frequently works with Director of Photography Roger Lanser, with whom he has made eight films.

Trivia (54)

Originally cast as the lead in Amadeus (1984) before the production company decided on casting American actors in the leading roles.
Educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London
Grew up in poverty in the shadow of a tobacco factory in Belfast.
At age 23, he became the youngest actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company to ever play the lead in Shakespeare's "Henry V".
Co-founded the Renaissance Theatre Company with David Parfitt, with Prince Charles as a royal patron.
Youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (Gielgud Award), 2000.
He allegedly declined the C.B.E. (Commander of the order of the British Empire) in 1994.
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1983 (1982 season) for Most Promising Newcomer for his performance in "Another Country".
Was one of the directors considered for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). He had appeared in the previous film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002).
He was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor of 2003 for his performance in "Edmond" at the Royal National Theatre: Olivier Stage.
He was awarded the 1988 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Special Award.
He was nominated for a 2004 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in "Edmond" at the Royal National Theatre.
Claims that Derek Jacobi is the reason he got into acting, and thus Jacobi became a frequent collaborator with him in most of his movies.
Was age 15 when he first saw "Hamlet" performed.
A Member of the RADA Council.
Appeared with Campbell Scott in Dead Again (1991). Scott later starred in and co-directed Hamlet (2000), and Branagh later starred in and directed Hamlet (1996).
Wrote many of the A Midwinter's Tale (1995) characters for specific actors.
He was one of the guests at Prince Charles's and Camilla Parker-Bowles' wedding on 9 April 2005.
Is a vice-president of Chichester Cinema at New Park. Maggie Smith and Anita Roddick are also vice-presidents.
In 1990, he received an honorary doctorate in Literature from Queen's University (located in Belfast, Northern Ireland).
Former son-in-law of Phyllida Law and Eric Thompson.
To date (2008), he has appeared as the title character in five films: Henry V (1989), Frankenstein (1994), Hamlet (1996), Shackleton (2002), Wallander (2008).
Was considered for the role of Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Ex-brother-in-law of Sophie Thompson and Richard Lumsden.
He can speak Italian.
He can play guitar, piano and tap.
He and his ex-wife, Emma Thompson, have appeared in separate films in the Harry Potter series. Branagh played Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and Thompson played Sybil Trelawney in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Depending on what has been cut from the script for the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) could be the first time both have appeared together in the same film since their divorce. Also appearing in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) is his ex-girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter.
Shares two film roles with Laurence Olivier: Henry V and Hamlet. He and Olivier also both directed their own performances in both films. He also directed Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film, in which Olivier starred. This time, Michael Caine played Olivier's part, while Jude Law played the second of two roles he shared with Caine - having previously appeared in Alfie (2004). Kenneth Branagh has also played the title role in a Naxos Audiobook CD of "Richard III', by William Shakespeare, another role that Olivier also played. Branagh portrayed Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011) and was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance.
The last film he made with Emma Thompson was Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Their roles had previously been played in an earlier film by Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith, who were also a couple at the time. Branagh and Thompson appeared together in Fortunes of War (1987) and Henry V (1989), which also featured Stephens, and in the Harry Potter films with Smith.
Has directed two people who have played Batman: Christian Bale in Henry V (1989), and Michael Keaton in Much Ado About Nothing (1993).
One of only three actors to have their names mentioned by a character in the Blackadder series, alongside Charles Chaplin (Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), and Delia Smith (Blackadder Back & Forth (1999)). Blackadder mentioned his name in Blackadder Back & Forth (1999) whilst talking to William Shakespeare on the topic of 'Hamlet'.
Mentioned in the theme song for The Adventures of George the Projectionist (2006).
Was originally considered for the part of the younger Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
Won the 2004 Evening Standard Theatre Award as Best Actor for his performance as the title character in Edmond at the Royal National Theatre.
Nominated for the 2009 Evening Standard Theatre Award as Best Actor in a play for his role as Ivanov in the play Ivanov at Wyndham's Theatre in London as part of the Donmar West End Season.
Has directed many other Harry Potter cast members in his own movies. Ex-wife Emma Thompson appeared with him in Henry V (1989), Dead Again (1991), and Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Robbie Coltrane appeared in Henry V (1989). Julie Christie and Timothy Spall appeared in Hamlet (1996). Imelda Staunton appeared in Much Ado About Nothing (1993). John Cleese, Robert Hardy, and Helena Bonham Carter appeared in Frankenstein (1994).
Middle brother of William Branagh Jr. and Joyce Branagh.
Was considered for the role of Paul Smecker in The Boondock Saints (1999). The role ultimately went to Willem Dafoe.
Often circles the camera around his actors when they are performing a monologue or having a conversation in one of his Shakespearean films.
With his nomination for Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role, he became the fourth person, along with Walt Disney, Warren Beatty and George Clooney, to be nominated for Academy Awards in five different categories. He had previously been nominated for Best Performance By An Actor in a Lead Role (Henry V), Best Director (Henry V), Best Short Film - Live Action (Swan Song) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Hamlet).
He was awarded the Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to Drama and to the community in Northern Ireland.
He has been a fan of "Thor" since childhood. When Marvel Studios selected Branagh as the director of the film adaptation, they sent him the complete collection of the Marvel Thor comics series as reference material for the character.
His top ten films of all time are: Napoleon (1927), Citizen Kane (1941), Brief Encounter (1945), Black Narcissus (1947), The Third Man (1949), The Searchers (1956), Manhattan (1979), Raging Bull (1980), Tootsie (1982) and Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987).
Was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on November 9, 2012 at Buckingham Palace.
Was involved as director for a while in the early stages of production of Dragonheart.
Berkshire, England: Actor [June 2012]
Filming scenes for Richard Curtis' Pirate Radio (2009). [March 2008]
Filming his scenes for Bryan Singer's movie Valkyrie (2008) on location in Germany.
Filming Warm Springs (2005) in Georgia and Atlanta, USA, playing Franklin D. Roosevelt. [November 2004]
Filming his scenes for TV series 10 Days to War (2008) on location in Jordan.
Filming and producing the three part Wallander (2008) series for BBC TV, on location in Sweden. The series is based on three of the 'Kurt Wallander' novels by Swedish writer Henning Mankell. The three novels on which the series is based are called: "Sidetracked", "One Step Behind" and "Firewall". [April 2008]
Currently starring in Tom Stoppard's version of Anton Chekhov's "Ivanov", at the Donmar West End at Wyndhams Theater in London. [October 2008]
Starring in the National Theatre's production of David Mamet's "Edmond"; National Theatre, Olivier, London. [August 2003]
Release of the book, "Ken & Em: A Biography of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson" by Ian Shuttleworth.

Personal Quotes (14)

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.
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'm just a foul-mouthed Brit.
My definition of success is control.
Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world which offers fewer and fewer supports.
It's very strange that the people you love are often the people you're most cruel with.
There is some mysterious thing that goes on whereby, in the process of playing Shakespeare continuously, actors are surprised by the way the language actually acts on them.
Variety is very, very good. Going from medium to medium - if you get the chance to do it - from theater to television to film, which are all distinctly different, keeps me sharp. What works in one doesn't work in the other, and you have to be looking for the truth of the performance, whatever way that medium might demand.
[on being told he is to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II] I was very, very, very surprised and I was very touched. Michael Caine and Roger Moore, both of whom I've worked with, offered only the insight that it's handy to have the 'kneeling stool with the handle'. Roger Moore, who has a dodgy knee, was terrified on the way to the ceremony that, having knelt down, he wouldn't be kneeling back up again. You don't want to move suddenly while that sword's being wielded, I'm sure. I haven't read of [Her Majesty] having knicked someone on the ear just yet, but perhaps I'll be the first.
People often ask me, "Why do you keep doing Shakespeare?" Well, because it's meaningful to me. That to do it well - or even just to work on it - I find very life-enhancing. I don't have any kind of conventional religious belief and I find Shakespeare's a tremendous source of inspiration, because there's no situation that I've come up against that somehow hasn't been described in those plays. When I do work on it, it's like going back to some great piece of music. It is dramatic poetry, so each time you hear it, it reacts on you in a different, usually a richer, way. It's like a wonderful dog that gives you much more than you'll ever give it. There's unconditional love in there; he never lets you down and he's never sentimental; he's always bracing because he's so very, very realistic about families and love and all the normal human stuff.
[on Dead Again (1991)] I didn't set out do to something 180 degrees from Henry V (1989). I was trying to get a film of Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native made when the Dead Again script arrived out the blue and I simply couldn't put it down. Simple as that. It reminded me of the first sort of films that really made an impression on me. Immediately I was thinking of Dial M for Murder (1954), all those Hitchcock movies. The Welles stuff. Pictures I grew up watching on television. I've always loved Hitchcock and I re-viewed a lot of Hitchcock stuff in the early stages of preparing for Dead Again: Dial M for Murder, Rebecca (1940), Notorious (1946) and Spellbound (1945). I wanted to remind myself of just how far he went because with Dead Again you certainly needed a lot of melodramatic Hitchcock approach to carry it off.
[observation, 1989] I don't go around saying, 'Hello. Did you know I'm the new Olivier?'
[on Frankenstein (1994)] People say to me in a slightly pitying way, "Were you interfered with on that movie?" To which I say, "No, it's my movie." It was bruising. I stopped reading the notices when I realised what was happening. I've had hostile reviews before, but these were very hurtful and personal. In a sense it was impossible for me to remain sane if I was to identify with any of that hostility. You can't do anything about people being irritated by you or what you are. But some people didn't like the movie and that's fair enough. I don't know what lesson one learns. De Niro gave a brave performance. I made the film I wanted to make and I'm very proud of it. In the end, all I do is make films and sometimes people don't like them. You can't worry about it or else you wouldn't get up in the morning. Our film was necessarily different from the traditional versions, and maybe people think there was a hubris in going up against the classics. We were trying to do Mary Shelley's book, which is different - Frankenstein has a more unfathomable motivation and the monster is more sweet-natured - and not necessarily better than the camp black-and-white movies that James Whale made with all that neck-bolted iconography.
[on A Midwinter's Tale (1995)] I wanted to do something very small after Frankenstein, which was very big, and it felt good to work on a completely different scale. I didn't have to explain anything to anyone. I didn't have to talk about casting, didn't have to send rushes to America, didn't have to preview the movie. We made it, finished it and then we sold it. I like In the Bleak Midwinter as a title. I like the hymn from which it comes and I even like the word 'bleak'. It's a very bracing word, very authoritative.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page