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Kenneth Branagh, British Actor Extraordinaire

Updated on October 20, 2012
I have a similar photograph (with autograph) framed in my bedroom. Photographer unknown.
I have a similar photograph (with autograph) framed in my bedroom. Photographer unknown.

Favorites come and favorites go, but one has remained constant for the past 2 decades. British actor Kenneth Branagh is always at the top of my list of favorite actors. I first saw him on stage in Toronto in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he was the director, producer and actor in that production, which also co-starred his then-wife Emma Thompson. I had read about this new guy who was the "new Richard Burton" but had never seen him perform. He only played a small part in the play but I definitely felt his presence and I was hooked right then and there.

I saw the play in 1990, a year after his huge success with his film based on Shakespeare's Henry V. He not only acted in this production; he adapted the play, he directed the film, and he and his film company produced the film. He received an Oscar nomination for best director.He has gone on to make a number of well-received films as well as appearing in numerous plays. In 2012 he was made Sir Kenneth Branagh and he also took part in the opening ceremonies for the London Summer Olympics.

I have linked to a few videos of his work. I think his performances speak better for themselves that I ever could.

Branagh's St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Trailer

Up close and personal

In 2000, Kenneth Branagh's most recent film was chosen as the closing Gala at the Toronto Film Festival. How to Kill Your Neighbour's Dog was written and directed by Canadian director Michal Kilesnico. I mentioned on the Kenneth Branagh mailing list I belong to that I was going to try and get to see him. Some kind person on the list knew someone and managed to get me two passes to the gala and to the party afterwards. I asked my friend Caroline to go with me because she was a huge Branagh fan also. When we got to our seats in the theatre we found we were sitting about 10 rows behind Branagh, Robyn Wright Penn and Lynn Redgrave, the stars of the film. I really enjoyed the film and so did Caroline.

After the film, a few of us were escorted down to the "green room" to meet the stars. The first person I saw when I walked in the room was Lynn Redgrave, I told her how much I liked the film. I found her very distant. As soon as I talked to her, I saw Kenneth Branagh standing against the wall. So, Caroline and I rushed up to him. I kind of felt like we had ambushed him and he was stuck against the wall. Anyway, I chatted with him a bit. I have absolutely no recollection of what we talked about. I did find him very easy to talk to though. I do recall that a little girl who was in the film came up and joined us and she and Kenneth joked around a bit. I could have stayed talking to him for hours but I got all self-conscious about wasting his time and let him go. We then headed over to the party where we did some more star-watching.

It was a great time and I think it took me a few weeks to come back down to earth.

In The Bleak Midwinter/A Midwinter's Tale

Peter's Friends

Much Ado About Nothing


Love's Labour's Lost

Do You Have a Favorite Branagh Film

Share in the comments if you have a favorite Kenneth Branagh film.

Branagh Filmography

My Week with Marilyn (actor) 2011

The Boat That Rocked (2009)

Thor (director)(2009)

Wallander (TV) (2008-)

Valkyrie (2008)

10 Days to War (TV) (2008)

Sleuth (director) (2007)

The Magic Flute (2006)

As You Like It (director)(2006)

Warm Springs (TV) (2005)

Five Children and It (2004)

Alien Love Triangle (short) (2002)

Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)

Shackleton (TV) (2002)

Conspiracy (TV) (2001)

The Ballad Of Big Al (TV, narrator) (2000)

Schneider's Second Stage (short) (2000)

How To Kill Your Neighbour's Dog (2000)

The Road To El Dorado (voice) (2000)

Love's Labour's Lost (2000)

The Periwig Maker (voice) (1999)

Wild Wild West (1999)

The Dance Of Shiva (short) (1998)

The Theory Of Flight (1998)

Celebrity (1998)

The Proposition (1998)

The Gingerbread Man (1998)

Hamlet (1996)

Looking For Richard (as himself) (1996)

In The Bleak Midwinter/Midwinter's Tale
(writer,director) (1996)

Shadow Of A Gunman (TV) (1995)

Othello (1995)

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Swing Kids (1993)

Symphony For the Spire (TV) (1992)

Peter's Friends (1992)

Dead Again (1991)

Discovering Hamlet (1990)

Look Back In Anger (TV) (1989)

Henry V (1989)

Thompson (TV series) (1988)

Fortunes Of War (TV miniseries) (1987)

High Season (1987)

The Lady's Not For Burning (TV) (1987)

A Month In The Country (1987)

Strange Interlude (TV) (1987)

Ghosts (TV) (1986)

Coming Through (1985)

A Coming To Terms For Billy (TV) (1984)

Boy In The Bush (TV miniseries) (1984)

To The Lighthouse (TV) (1983)

A Matter Of Choice For Billy (1983)

Easter 2016 (TV) (1982)

Too Late To Talk To Billy (TV) (1982)

Maybury (TV miniseries) (1981)


Submit a Comment

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks Donnah... he is the best :)

  • donnah75 profile image

    Donna Hilbrandt 5 years ago from Upstate New York

    I just love Kenneth Branagh!!! He is my favorite. Voted up and sharing.

  • xriotdotbiz profile image

    xriotdotbiz 7 years ago

    Since Henry V been a huge fan. He made Shakespeare come alive for me. Like it was Shakespeare by my time for my time.

  • Lady_E profile image

    Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

    Great Hub. He is very talented. Its so lovely that you got to meet him and also have something to remember him by.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks really have to see that film, it made me such a fanatic about Hamlet. It's now my favorite Shakespeare play solely because of Kenneth's version.

  • trooper22 profile image

    trooper22 8 years ago from Chicago

    Kenneth is without question one of the greatest actors of our time. His Henry the Fifth St. Crispen's day speech never fails to send a shiver down my spine. I have yet to see his version of Hamlet, and I see from the clip provided here that I need to get that done. This hub is a wonderful dedication. I can see why you were in such awe upon meeting him. ) ...great ones shall not go unwatched

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Just a note...Wallander is premiering on PBS on May 10th...

  • profile image

    Janetta 8 years ago

    I just loved Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet. I have yet to find another actor who can compare to his portrayal as the Prince of Denmark. Not that Shakespeare isn't a talent all his own, but it was Branagh's preformance that made me love the play :)

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    You have to get out more Shirley :) He is currently filming a detective series that will be shown on Masterpiece Theatre eventually.

  • Shirley Anderson profile image

    Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I don't know this star, Susan, but he has a great voice and presence for Shakespeare!

    How cool that you got to meet a star that you like!! *sigh* Visions of Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman....

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    He is the best :)

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    Dayzeebee told me about this hub. LOL Hmm now I know why she finds him fascinating too. :-)

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    I'm a big fan too. I loved Rabbit proof fence. It is my absolute favorite.

    Great hub Susan, regards Zsuzsy

  • dayzeebee profile image

    dayzeebee 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    You had him against the wall?! That must have been an electrifying moment. I have his Hamlet and Othello movies and play them when I need that Shakesperean energy boost to get me creative. Great hub. Great actor. Great choice. Great boost.LOL. Thank you so much. Thumbs up!:)

  • schatzie profile image

    schatzie 8 years ago from Mid-Western US

    LOVE him! I don't know about Richard Burton, I always thought of him as the Laurence Olivier of our day. Cannot tell you how much I love him. I will only watch Shakespeare if he is involved. ;)

  • kerryg profile image

    kerryg 8 years ago from USA

    Lucky you for meeting him! I am a big fan too.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    I know...don't you hate that? :)

  • Teresa McGurk profile image

    Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

    He's only 48? Man, I hate it when people are younger than me!!!!!! (LOL)

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Right, he was born December 10, 1960 :)

  • profile image

    Badboyberowne 8 years ago

    Sorry to have to correct you, Teresa, but Kenneth Branagh will not be 50 years old until December 2010.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for the comments.

    Bob, I love Rabbit Proof Fence. It was such a wonderful film. Then again, I love all Branagh's films...well, with the exception of Wild Wild West...but that wasn't his fault :) I even love Love's Labor's Lost and Peter's Friends.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    My wife is a big fan and I have enjoyed the work I have seen him do, Just saw Rabbit Proof Fence about three months ago.

  • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

    Julie-Ann Amos 8 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

    Well done - I love Branagh!

  • affiliater profile image

    Shankar Pandiath 8 years ago from India

    Nice hub - like this guy - pretty cool and a darn good actor..

  • Teresa McGurk profile image

    Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

    Branagh will be fifty this coming December. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and still is active in promoting theatre for teenagers in the province. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was 23. Then he formed his own comapny -- The Renaissance Theatre Company. His instinctive understanding of the roles he takes on is pretty impressive -- I saw him in Look Back in Anger, and at first thought he was miscast. But no. He made the role totally his own. Yeah. I'm a bit of a fan.

  • ilovehubbing profile image

    ilovehubbing 8 years ago

    Nice hub