Branagh, the middle of three children, was born and brought up 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. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape the Troubles. He was educated at Grove Primary School, Whiteknights Primary School, then Meadway School, Tilehurst, where he appeared in school productions such as Toad of Toad Hall" and Oh, What a Lovely War!. At school, he acquired an English accent 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.
Branagh went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on a B.A. Fine Arts Degree.
|Lindsay Brunnock||(24 May 2003 - present)|
|Emma Thompson||(20 August 1989 - 1 October 1995) (divorced)|
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.
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".
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".
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.
Wrote many of the A Midwinter's Tale (1995) characters for specific actors.
In 1990, he received an honorary doctorate in Literature from Queen's University (located in Belfast, Northern Ireland).
Was considered for the role of Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
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.
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.
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 third person, along with 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.
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.
(August 2003) Starring in the National Theatre's production of David Mamet's "Edmond"; National Theatre, Olivier, London.
(2008) Filming his scenes for TV series "10 Days to War" (2008) on location in Jordan.
(April 2008) 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".
(1995) Release of the book, "Ken & Em: A Biography of Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson" by Ian Shuttleworth.
(June 2012) Berkshire, England: Actor
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