Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh

born on 10/12/1960 in Belfast, North Ireland, United Kingdom

Kenneth Branagh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Kenneth Branagh

Branagh in July 2009
Born Kenneth Charles Branagh
December 10 1960
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Occupation Actor, film director
Years active 1981present
Spouse(s) Emma Thompson (1989-1995; divorced)
Lindsay Brunnock (2003present)

Kenneth Charles Branagh (IPA: /bræn/; born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish-born English[1] actor and film director. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, but has also directed and appeared in a number of other films and television series.

Early life

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.[2] At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape the Troubles.[3][4] He was educated at Grove Primary School,[5] Whiteknights Primary School, then Meadway School, Tilehurst,[6][7] where he appeared in school productions such as Toad of Toad Hall"[8] and Oh, What a Lovely War!.[9] 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.[10]


Stage work

Branagh achieved some early measure of success in his native Northern Ireland for his role as the title character in the BBC's Play for Today[11] trilogy known as the Billy Plays (198284), written by Graham Reid and set in Belfast.

He received acclaim in the UK for his stage performances, first winning the 1982 SWET Award for Best Newcomer, for his role as Judd in Julian Mitchell's Another Country, immediately after leaving RADA. Branagh was part of the 'new wave of actors to emerge from the Academy. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Bruce Payne and Fiona Shaw. In 1984 he appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V, directed by Adrian Noble. The production played to full houses, especially at the Barbican in London. It was this production that he adapted for the film version of the play in 1989. He and David Parfitt founded the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, following success with several productions on the London 'Fringe', including Branagh's full-scale production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric Studio, co-starring with Samantha Bond. The first major Renaissance production was Branagh's Christmas 1987 staging of Twelfth Night at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, starring Richard Briers as Malvolio and Frances Barber as Viola, and with an original score by actor, musician and composer Patrick Doyle, who two years later was to compose the music for Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V. This Twelfth Night was later adapted for television.

Branagh became a major presence in the media and on the British stage when Renaissance collaborated with Birmingham Rep for a 1988 touring season of three Shakespeare plays under the umbrella title of Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, which also played a repertory season at the Phoenix Theatre in London. It featured directorial debuts for Judi Dench with Much Ado About Nothing (starring Branagh and Emma Thompson as Benedick and Beatrice), Geraldine McEwan with As You Like It, and Derek Jacobi directing Branagh in the title role in Hamlet, with Sophie Thompson as Ophelia. Critic Milton Shulman of the London Evening Standard wrote: "On the positive side Branagh has the vitality of Olivier, the passion of Gielgud, the assurance of Guinness, to mention but three famous actors who have essayed the role. On the negative side, he has not got the magnetism of Olivier, nor the mellifluous voice quality of Gielgud nor the intelligence of Guinness."[12]

A year later in 1989 Branagh co-starred with Emma Thompson in the Renaissance revival of Look Back in Anger. Judi Dench directed both the theatre and television productions, presented first in Belfast then at the London Coliseum and Lyric Theatre.

More recently, in 2002, Branagh starred at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield as Richard III. In 2003 he starred in the Royal National Theatre's production of David Mamet's Edmond. Branagh directed The Play What I Wrote in England in 2001[13] and directed a Broadway production in 2003.[14][15] From September to November 2008, Branagh appeared at Wyndham's Theatre as the title character in the Donmar West End revival of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov in a new version by Tom Stoppard. His performance was lauded as the "performance of the year" by several critics.[16] It won him the Critics' Circle Award for Best Male Performance but did not get him a Laurence Olivier Award nomination, to the surprise of critics.[17]

Film work

Branagh is known for his film adaptations of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V (1989), followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love's Labour's Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but was sent directly to television in the U.S., where it aired on HBO in August 2007. Branagh was also in Oliver Parker-directed the 1995 film version of "Othello" where he played Iago.

Notable non-Shakespeare films in which Branagh has appeared include Dead Again (1991) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West (1999), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Valkyrie (2008). He starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He also played the Minister, Dormandy, (a parody of PMG Tony Benn) in the film The Boat That Rocked (2009). From 1989 to 1996 Branagh mostly directed his own films, but the commercial and critical failure of Love's Labour's Lost ended his directorial career for a time. In 2006, the same year that Branagh's film version of As You Like It was released, he also directed a film version of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. Branagh has also directed the thriller Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film. At a film promotion for Valkyrie in 2008, Branagh confirmed that he would be directing Thor, a film based on the Marvel superhero.[18] Thor, Branagh's return to big-budget directing, released on 6 May 2011.[19]


Branagh has also been involved in several made-for-TV films. Among his most acclaimed portrayals is that of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the film Warm Springs (2005), for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. Though the film received 16 Emmy nominations, winning five (including Best Made-For-Television Film), Branagh did not win the award for his portrayal. He did, though, receive an Emmy for his portrayal of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich in the TV film Conspiracy (2001), a depiction of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials decided on the Final Solution. In 2002 Branagh starred in the two-part television movie Shackleton, a dramatization of the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition's battle for survival, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award and an Emmy.[20] Branagh also narrated the BBC documentaries Walking With Dinosaurs, World War 1 in Colour, Walking With Beasts and Walking With Monsters, and the BBC miniseries Great Composers.

Branagh is the star of the Wallander television series, adaptations of Henning Mankell's best-selling Wallander crime novels. Branagh plays the eponymous Inspector Kurt Wallander and also serves as the executive producer of the series. The first three films were broadcast on BBC One in November and December 2008.[21] Branagh won the award for best actor at the 35th Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards (2009). It was his first major television award win in the UK.[22] He received his first BAFTA TV on 26 April 2009 for the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series.[23] For his performance in the episode One Step Behind, he was nominated in the Outstanding Actor, Miniseries or Movie category of the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards.[24] The role also gained him a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards.[25] The second season of three episodes were filmed in 2009 and aired in January 2010 on the BBC and October/November 2010 on PBS in the US. Plans have been announced for a third season of six episodesthe last three Mankell novels, as well as three original Wallander stories.


Branagh has also played the title role in BBC radio broadcasts of Hamlet and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Other work

Branagh has narrated several audio books, such as The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis.[26]

Personal life

Branagh was married to actress Emma Thompson from 20 August 1989 until 1995. After their divorce, he was in a well-publicised relationship for several years with actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he directed and starred with in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In 2003, he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock,[27] to whom he was introduced by Bonham Carter in 1997.[28]

He speaks Italian and is a lifelong supporter of Belfast football team Linfield, as well as Tottenham Hotspur[29] and Glasgow Rangers.


Branagh has been nominated for four Academy Awards. His first two nominations were for Henry V (one each for directing and acting). He also received similar BAFTA Award nominations for his film work, winning one for his direction. His first BAFTA TV award came in April 2009, for Best Drama Series (Wallander). Branagh's two other Academy Award nominations were for the 1992 film short subject Swan Song and for his work on the screenplay of Hamlet in 1996. Branagh has co-starred several times with actress Emma Thompson, to whom he was married from 1989 to 1995. They appeared together in Look Back In Anger, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Dead Again, and Peter's Friends. More recently, they both appeared in The Boat That Rocked, though with no shared scenes.

He is Honorary President of NICVA (the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action). He received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Queen's University of Belfast in 1990. He is also a patron for the charity Over The Wall.[30]

In 1994, Branagh declined an appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[31]

Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000.

Alongside Roberto Benigni, he is one of only two non-American actors to be nominated for Oscars for acting, writing, and directing, and one of nine actors to have achieved this honour. The other seven are Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, John Huston and John Cassavetes.

On 10 July 2009, Branagh was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RomaFictionFest.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Chariots of Fire Artist Uncredited
1983 To the Lighthouse Charles Tansley Television series
1985 Coming Through D.H. Lawrence Television
1987 Fortunes of War Guy Pringle
  • Television series: 7 episodes
  • Nominated British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1987 Month in the Country, AA Month in the Country James Moon
1987 High Season Rick
1988 Thompson Various roles Television series: 6 episodes
1988 Strange Interlude Gordan Evans Television
1989 Look Back In Anger Jimmy Porter
1989 Henry V Henry V
  • European Film Award for Best Actor
  • Nominated Academy Award for Best Actor
  • Nominated Academy Award for Best Director
  • Nominated BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1991 Dead Again
  • Roman Strauss
  • Mike Church
1992 Peter's Friends Andrew Benson
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Benedick
1993 Swing Kids Herr Knopp, Gestapo Uncredited
1994 Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein Nominated Saturn Award for Best Actor
1995 Othello Iago Nominated Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
1996 Hamlet Hamlet San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
1998 Gingerbread Man, TheThe Gingerbread Man Rick Magruder
1988 Theory of Flight, TheThe Theory of Flight Richard
1988 Celebrity Lee Simon
1988 Proposition, TheThe Proposition Father Michael McKinnon
1988 Dance of Shiva, TheThe Dance of Shiva Col. Evans Short film
1999 Periwig-Maker, TheThe Periwig-Maker Periwig-maker Short film; voice only
1999 Wild Wild West Dr. Arliss Loveless Nominated Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1999 Alien Love Triangle Steve Chesterman Short film
2000 Road to El Dorado, TheThe Road to El Dorado Miguel Voice only
2000 Love's Labour's Lost Berowne
2000 How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Peter McGowan
2001 Conspiracy Reinhard Heydrich
  • Television
  • Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor Miniseries or a Movie
  • Nominated British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
  • Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor Miniseries or Television Film
2001 Schneider's 2nd Stage Joseph Barnett Short film
2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence A. O. Neville
2002 Shackleton Ernest Henry Shackleton
  • Television
  • Nominated British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
  • Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor Miniseries or a Movie
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Professor Gilderoy Lockhart
  • London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor
  • Nominated Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Acting
2004 Five Children and It Uncle Albert
2005 Warm Springs Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • TV
  • Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor Miniseries or a Movie
  • Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor Miniseries or Television Film
  • Nominated Satellite Award for Best Actor Miniseries or Television Film
  • Nominated Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2007 Sleuth Other Man on TV Uncredited
2008 Valkyrie Henning von Tresckow
2008 10 Days to War Colonel Tim Collins Television series: 1 episode
2008present Wallander Kurt Wallander
  • Television series: 6 episodes
  • Also executive producer
  • British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
  • British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series
  • Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor
  • Nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor Miniseries or a Movie
  • Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best Actor Miniseries or Television Film
  • Nominated Satellite Award for Best Actor Miniseries or Television Film
2009 Boat That Rocked, TheThe Boat That Rocked Minister Dormandy
2011 My Week with Marilyn Laurence Olivier


Year Title Notes
1989 Henry V
  • Also writer
  • BAFTA Award for Best Direction
  • European Film Award for Best Director
  • European Film Award for Best Young Film
  • Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Film
  • National Board of Review Award for Best Director
  • New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director
  • Nominated Academy Award for Best Director
1991 Dead Again Nominated Golden Bear, 42nd Berlin International Film Festival[33]
1992 Swan Song
  • Short film
  • Nominated Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film
1992 Peter's Friends Also producer
1993 Much Ado About Nothing
  • Also writer and producer
  • London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Producer
  • Nominated Palme d'Or
  • Nominated Independent Spirit Award for Best Film
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Also co-producer
1995 Midwinter's Tale, AA Midwinter's Tale
  • Also writer
  • Golden Osella
  • Nominated Golden Lion
1996 Hamlet
  • Also writer
  • Evening Standard British Film Award's Special Jury Award
  • Nominated Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
2000 Love's Labour's Lost Also writer and producer
2003 Listening Short film; also writer
2006 Magic Flute, TheThe Magic Flute Also writer
2006 As You Like It Also writer and executive producer
2007 Sleuth
  • Also producer
  • Queer Lion
  • Nominated Golden Lion
2011 Thor


  • Anne Frank Remembered (Documentary) (1995)
  • Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (Six-part TV special) (1996)
  • Great Composers (TV mini-series) (1997)
  • Cold War (CNN TV series) (1998)
  • The Making of Walking with Dinosaurs (UK version) (TV series) (1999)
  • Walking with Dinosaurs (UK version) (TV series) (1999)
  • The Science of Walking with Beasts (Australia) (Two-part TV special) (2001)
  • The Ballad of Big Al (UK version) (TV special) (2001)
  • Walking with Beasts (UK version) (TV series) (2001)
  • The Tramp and the Dictator (Documentary) (2002)
  • Walking with Monsters: Life Before Dinosaurs (TV series) (2005)
  • Goebbels-Experiment, Das (Documentary) (2005)
  • IMAX: Galapagos (Documentary)
  • World War 1 in Colour (Documentary) (2005)

Discography and audiobooks

  • Shakespeare's Richard III (complete) for Naxos Audiobooks
  • In the Ravine & Other Short Stories by Anton Chekhov (unabridged) for Naxos Audiobooks
  • Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream (speaker) live recording for Sony Classical, conducted by Claudio Abbado
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys 1660-1669 (abridged) for Hodder Headline Audio Classics
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S Lewis for Harper Books
  • Shakespeare's "Sonnet 30" for the 2002 compilation album, When Love Speaks (EMI Classics)
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [Abridged]
  • Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness for

Further reading

  • Kenneth Branagh (1990 [1989]) Beginning, London: Chatto and Windus, ISBN 0-7011-3388-0; New York: W W Norton & Co, ISBN 0-393-02862-3
  • Ian Shuttleworth (1994) Ken & Em, London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-4718-8
  • Mark White (2005) Kenneth Branagh, London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-22068-1
  • Theatre Record and its annual Indexes


  1. Kenneth Branagh (British actor, director and writer). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on 04-05-2011.
  2. Kenneth Branagh Biography. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  3. The Kenneth Branagh Compendium: Conspiracy. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  4. White p.3
  5. White, p.2
  6. My best teacher - Kenneth Branagh. TES Connect.
  7. Berkshire's BAFTA Branagh. BBC Berkshire.
  8. Meadway School Reunion - Staff Memories (Jim Morrison).
  9. KENNETH BRANAGH ARCHIVE. Queen's University Belfast.
  10. ''The Times'', 20 February 2000. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  11. White p.17
  12. Quoted in The London Stage in the 20th Century by Robert Tanitch, Haus (2007)
  13. Branagh ready for the next stage, Telegraph. URL accessed on 2010-03-07.
  14. The Play What I Wrote, a CurtainUp London and New York review. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  15. Talkin' Broadway Review: The Play What I Wrote. (2003-03-30). Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  16. Staff writer (18 September 2008). "Rave reviews for Kenneth Branagh's West End return", Retrieved on 18 September 2008.
  17. Hoyle, Ben (4 February 2009). "David Tennant and Kenneth Branagh miss out on Olivier nominations", The Times, Times Newspapers. Retrieved on 22 February 2009.
  18. EXCLUSIVE: Kenneth Branagh Breaks Silence On Thor, Says Casting Talk Is Premature. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  19. Thor Movie: Principal Photography Starts!. (2010-01-11). Retrieved on 2010-01-11.
  20. "Shackleton" awards.
  21. Killing time. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  22. Douglas, Torin (27 March 2009). "Winners - 35th BPG Television and Radio Awards". Broadcasting Press Guild. Retrieved on 27 March 2009.
  23. "Television Awards Nominations 2009". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  24. Martin, Lara (16 July 2009). "Emmys Awards 2009: The nominees". Digital Spy. Retrieved on 16 July 2009.
  25. Allen, Kate, Coben, Cole, Atkinson vie for crime awards, The Bookseller, 7 September 2009. URL accessed on 7 September 2009.
  26. Kenneth Branagh Book Search. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  27. White p.271
  28. Kenneth Branagh Biography. Tiscali UK. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  29. Kenneth Branagh on Tottenham Hotspur, Guardian Unlimited, 23 May 2000. URL accessed on 2007-01-11.
  30. Over The Wall official website
  31. No Sir! Stars who refused honors, CNN, 2003-12-21. URL accessed on 2010-03-07.
  32. Lyman, Eric J., Rome fest to honor Kenneth Branagh, The Hollywood Reporter, Nielsen Business Media, 12 June 2009. URL accessed on 13 June 2009.
  33. Berlinale: 1992 Programme. Retrieved on 2011-05-24.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kenneth Branagh

  • Kenneth Branagh at the Internet Movie Database
  • Biography on Tiscali film section
  • Kenneth Branagh interview from Premiere (1996)
  • Branagh Collection at Queen's University, Belfast
This page was last modified 06.06.2011 13:56:19

This article uses material from the article Kenneth Branagh from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.