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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)


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