Hi Ken-iacs - a quickie today with a whole load of reviews for The Painkiller which had its press night on 17 March:
Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon — A Farcical Encounter With the Odd Couple | The Painkiller (Garrick Theatre) | West End Review: Kenneth Branagh in ‘The Painkiller’ | Play of the Week: Rob Brydon and a Drugged-up Kenneth Branagh Have a Ball in 'The Painkiller' | 'The Painkiller' Sees Branagh and Brydon At Their Comic Best | The Painkiller Review – Branagh and Brydon Are Perfect Pair In Furious Farce | 'The Painkiller' – Garrick Theatre, London | 'The Painkiller' Review – Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon Star at the Garrick Theatre, London | Review: 'The Painkiller', Garrick Theatre | 'The Painkiller' at the Garrick Theatre | Sir Ken and Co Are a Riot With Their Trousers Down But 'The Painkiller' Is Not Quite Needle Sharp | 'The Painkiller': Theater Review | 'The Painkiller' | Review Roundup: Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon's 'The Painkiller' and 'The Painkiller', Garrick Theatre.
Next time there will be photos!
(30 March, thanks Jane)
Hello keen Ken-ners! Back with a few more things. I've just been trying to sift through the virtual "piles of news" - aka links - and it's rather daunting, but here are a few for today...
From the what they are saying desk, these snippets...
Eoin Colfer Has Set New Iron Man Novel in Ireland, at RTÉ.ie, 16 January 2016:
One of Colfer's stories that is getting the big screen treatment is the hugely popular fantasy series, Artemis Fowl, which has been translated into 44 languages around the globe. Kenneth Branagh is on board to direct the movie and Colfer revealed that he is not the only big name behind the project.
"I was over to meet Kenneth Branagh a couple of months ago in London and they are all gung ho to get going. I'm hoping they will do it over here which will be amazing. Robert De Niro is one of the producers as well as Harvey Weinstein – that's pretty much a force in Hollywood."
From an article about Ken Dodd in the Bournemouth Echo, 11 March 2016:
Kenneth Branagh roped him into his four-hour film of 'Hamlet'. “Kenneth All-Bran, he rang me up one day and said would I take part in his film of Hamlet? I said ‘Oh well I’ve got the legs for it, I’ll look good in tights’.”
And from an interview with Adrian Lester in the Evening Standard, 14 January 2016:
Lester says his own understanding of the role [in 'Red Velvet'] has deepened over the years. In between productions of 'Red Velvet', he played his own stunningly martial Othello at the National Theatre, which brought another Evening Standard Theatre Award into the Lester-Chakrabarti home.
The two performances informed each other — “I feel like I’ve been playing Othello for five years” — and the play itself has gained new relevance. There were lines in it from the very start about “immigration, letting people in, borders … but in this day and age an audience is going to hear them a lot more clearly”.
The play fits neatly into Branagh’s season. It shares with Rattigan’s Harlequinade and Branagh’s own forthcoming rendition of John Osborne’s The Entertainer, a fascination with the mercurial nature of theatre, and nestles neatly alongside both the Shakespeare plays and the new work Branagh has programmed.
Lester says the deal to bring the show into the Garrick was done in a week. They’ve known Branagh for years: “When Lolita wrote an early 15-page treatment in 1990-something, she asked Ken if he’d look at it and tell her if it had legs. He came to the house and gave her very, very detailed notes as a friend, just helping a mate out.”
And finally, an article in which Billy Crystal talks about rehearsing for his part in Hamlet
To balance things out, here is Kenneth Branagh's tribute to Alan Rickman.
The Winter's Tale, Judi Dench, Neil Austin, Michael Pennington, Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh have all received Olivier nominations for 2015 - read an article and see all the nominations here.
There are also other articles: Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, And Mark Rylance To Star In Christopher Nolan's 65mm Shot 'Dunkirk' (Oooh, new work! unconfirmed for the moment!);
John Hurt Joins Kenneth Branagh in 'The Entertainer'; In Rehearsal: The Painkiller; Olivier-Nominated Kenneth Branagh to Star With John Hurt and Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon — A Farcical Encounter With the Odd Couple.
There is a great photo from the latest article and a wonderful Painkiller rehearsal gallery.
That's today's update - more to come, including the new Painkiller reviews.
(16 March, thanks Lyn, Jane, Emma, Pennie, John)
Greetings Ken Fans! As many of you will know, over the years the Ken-Friends (Branagh fans from all over the world) have been doing fundraising for a number of charities supported by Kenneth Branagh. In recent years we have focused our efforts to create and support The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at RADA, which is offered to students from Northern Ireland studying at the Academy. In Beginning (p. 50, 51) you will find a lovely mention of Kenneth's parents giving him an envelope with a card and some cash to sustain him while away from home... the William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award commemorates this and endeavours to support the training of students from Northern Ireland. Read about last year's gift here.
In other news, a fun snippet, posted by Warren Mauger, on Spike Productions Blog:
Filming with Sir Kenneth Branagh
Very nice photos on the blog - do visit! Too bad the film has not happened...
Going through our files this morning I realised it was four years ago yesterday (25th January 2012) that we had the pleasure of filming with actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Sir Kenneth Branagh.
It was awful weather and we were filming on the Pleinmont headland in Guernsey, at points we could barely keep the camera steady on the tripod. Myself (Warren Mauger) and our cameraman were fairly apprehensive of working with such an experienced and successful film maker but were put at ease straight away.
Our task was to film a number of pieces with Ken Branagh talking to the camera.
We only worked together for that morning and the footage was edited together for the film studios which they seemed to be happy with. Later that morning we were just finishing off and I was taking the mic off Sir Ken when he got the news that he was nominated for an Oscar for 'My Week with Marilyn'. It's probably the closest i’d get to an Oscar but i resisted the temptation to ruffle his hair and say “well done you”.
From a while back, a snip from Mark Lawson's Top 10 Theatre of 2015 in the Guardian, 23 December 2015:
10. The Winter's Tale, Garrick, London
As well, 'The Winter's Tale' won the Falstaff Award for Best Play or Musical at PlayShakespeare.com.
The opening show in the West End residency of Kenneth Branagh’s new company builds high
hopes of even greater highlights next year. Branagh’s Leontes, with its newly illuminating line-
stresses and convincing psychological collapse, is matched by the peerless stage presence
and verse-speaking of Judi Dench, doubling the roles of Paulina and Time. As is the case with
all the best productions of this dramatist, Branagh and co-director Rob Ashford prompted an
emergency reshuffle of my top 10 favourite Shakespeare plays.
Photo finish: Kenneth and Lindsay attending the Press Night after-party for Red Velvet.
That's it for today, more soon!
(21 February, thanks Jude, Jane, Emma)
Hello Ken-keeners! Sign of life (in the form of a few articles and photos): The live-cinema presentation of The Winter's Tale opened in Australia and you can read two reviews : here and here.
The third production of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season is playing now and you can read a short article about Red Velvet, with a link to rehearsal photos.
At the Critics Circle Awards Kenneth commented on the diversity issue related to the Academy Awards nominations and you can read about that here.
Anticipation is building for the next Wallander (coming to the US in May) and there have been two short articles related to the Masterpiece Theatre panel at the 2016 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour: here and here. You can see a few photos from the panel here.
That's today's mini-update. More soon!
(14 February, thanks Lynne, Jane)
Happy New Year Ken-fans! Only 24 days into the new year and I'm already (still) way behind, but hey!, hope springs eternal. Anyway, we have the few most important things here: Kenneth started the year on the right foot, accepting the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film at the 36th Critics Circle Awards in London on 17 January. You can read an announcement article here and an account of the evening here... and there are photos here. You listen to Ken's acceptance speech here and there are interviews here.
And then two days later Ken and Lindsay were spotted at Los Angeles international airport, to the delight of the Daily Mail and us. You can read an article here and see the photos here.
Final bit of news (for today): Sandy Powell has been nominated for the Best Costume Oscar for Cinderella! She's also up against herself in the category, for Carol. :-)
This will be it for today but I will be back!
(24 January, thanks Jane, Patricia)
Season's Greetings (in my case 39 cm of fresh snow)! Slipping in just before the year ends with a few more things...
A Winter's Tale review I missed earlier, and another on the live cinema presentation.
And, keeping up as Kenergizer and Multi-tasKen, Kenneth has a new gig: he has been named Patron of Film London's Shakespeare on Screen a "year of celebration" marking the 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. You can read about the gig here and here.
I have added a small gallery of photos from the opening night of Harlequinade/All On Her Own.
And finally, from The Observer's Obituaries of 2015, Henning Mankell Remembered by Kenneth Branagh.
That's it for now. Happy New Year to all!
(31 December, thanks Jane, Jude, Toni)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kenneth Branagh! Today Kenneth is 55 and barely looking a day older than he did in 1979. Many happy returns!
I have put up a whack of reviews (but I suspect there are still many more) - here's the big list: Zoë Wanamaker: Kenneth Branagh? He’s just like Jeremy Corbyn | 'The Winter's Tale' Review – Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench Offer Intriguing Touches | 'Harlequinade'/'All on Her Own' Review – Branagh and Co Send Up Vanished Theatrical World | Dame Judi Dench, 80, Supports Kenneth Branagh and Zoe Wanamaker As They Perform In New Production of 'Harlequinade' | Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, Garrick Theatre, Review: Judi Dench Inspires In a Marathon For Theatre Lovers | Harlequinade / All On Her Own | Kenneth Branagh Season Storms Out Of The Gate | Kenneth Branagh's Plays at the Garrick – What the Critics Said | 'The Winter's Tale'/'All On Her Own'/'Harlequinade'; Theater Review | 'All On Her Own' – 'Harlequinade' at the Garrick Theatre Review | 'Harlequinade' / 'All On Her Own', Garrick Theatre, Review: 'Farcical Froth' | 'The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company Is, In the Best Sense, Mostly About Kenneth Branagh | 'The Winter’s Tale', Garrick Theatre, Review: ‘Ripe With Operatic Excess’ | 'The Winter’s Tale'; 'Harlequinade'; 'All on Her Own' Review – A Gift to Eye and Heart | The Luminous Judi Dench Gives a Shakespearean Masterclass in Kenneth Branagh's Winter Wonder | Review: ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ ‘Harlequinade’ and ‘The Moderate Soprano’ | When It Comes to Shakespeare, Composer Patrick Doyle Knows the Score | Kenneth Branagh’s Production of ‘Winter’s Tale’ Tops U.K. Movie Box Office
There is also the text of an interview with Ken recorded for the live cinema presentation of The Winter's Tale.
I hope to be back soon with more!
(10 December, thanks Kate, Lara, Virginia, Jane)
Hi Ken-Fans! As usual I am waaay behind and the day job does not help. Mea culpa for not getting the reviews up, but they will come.
In the meantime - also much later than intended - here is the information on two events which might be of interest: tickets for the live broadcast of The Winter's Tale in the UK, tomorrow evening (sorry this is so late!) and .... there are some tickets for the theatre performances of The Winter's Tale (which is otherwise sold out) still to be had in a dinner/theatre combination and you can find out more and get tickets here.
The other news is that Ken will be directing and starring in Murder on the Orient Express. Yes! Read about it here and here.
May reviews will be coming!
(29 November, thanks Kate, Ed, Hayley, Yvonne)
Hello Ken-fans! Trying to catch up - there is now a page for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, which gathers together the articles that have appeared, as well as photos. There are three new articles: Kenneth Branagh: 'An Audience of 100,000 Makes For a Different Feeling In the Tights', Photo Flash: First Look at Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Zoe Wanamaker and More in Rehearsals for 'The Winter's Tale' and 'Harlequinade/All On Her Own' and Kenneth Branagh Returns to the Stage, With More Roles. The second article included a treasure trove of rehearsal photos, by the brilliant Johan Persson, which you can see gathered here. A few photos from the launch of the Company are here.
More to come I am sure! Happy St. Crispian's Day!
(25 October, thanks Jules, Ngoc, Jane, Jude)
Hi 2Bers - just a few articles to tide us over - one about the appointment to RADA: Sir Kenneth Branagh Made President of RADA to Upstage the Posh Brigade; two relating to the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company (first performance is coming up in two days!!): Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company to Run Front Row Mobile Lottery for Inaugural Season and Kenneth Branagh: Can He Succeed Where Olivier Failed?; and an article related to an event Ken supports: 'Magical Fortnight' of Windsor Festival and Fringe Come to a Close. Unfortunately there was also the sad news of the passing of Henning Mankell - read Kenneth's tribute here.
I see another production is planned as part of the The Kenneth Branagh Theatre series: heads up Adrian Lester fans!
I'll be back!
(15 October, thanks Jane, Jude)
Greetings Branaghiacs! I seem to only stutter along with "sign of life" - hope that's better than nothing! Two small items: you can read about about and listen to a message of support Kenneth recorded for a new adult hospice for Northern Ireland.
And, for a photo finish, a couple of photos taken when Ken attended the press night for Picture 51 on 18 September.
It's very little but it's the new stuff (there are lots of reviews of the Blu-ray Cinderella for another time). Back soon I hope!
(28 September, thanks Jane, Jude)
Hello Ken fans! Most excellent news for you today! If you cannot make it to the Garrick Theatre to see the productions of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in person you may have the chance to see three of them live in the cinema, hopefully in a movie theatre near you. You can watch a trailer announcing these showings and there is a website - as yet limited to the UK - for the cinema tickets.
A couple of articles about these showings are here and here. And there is a new interview here.
It just keeps getting better! More soon, I hope.
(13 September, thanks Lara, Jude, Jane, Renie)
Sign of life - greetings Kenners! Here is a link to fun story: Photographing Branagh: Looking Back On My Photo Shoot With Kenneth Branagh and That Bare Bodkin.
In current news, there is a "poster" now for Harlequinade/All On Her Own. You can see it alone here. A bit too small for my taste... :-)
One final thing for today - Kenneth is a patron of the charity Muscle Dreams for Muscle Help Foundation. This is a UK Make a Wish for children with muscular dystrophy, created by an adult suffering from the disease. His video spot for the charity is at https://www.looktothestars.org/video/458-muscle-dreams-endorsed-by-kenneth-branagh. You can also find it on the charity's website.
That's today's life breath... more soon I hope!
(7 September, thanks Ngoc, Jane, Pennie, Jude)
Keen Kenners! Rumours... one that The Winter's Tale will be shown in the NT Live series in late November - nothing solid to substantiate this, but I throw it out there.
Probably more accurate, an article about Ken being attached to a new Disney movie.
And an older rumour, most likely now a dead duck, Marvel Reportedly Wants Kenneth Branagh To Return And Direct 'Thor: Ragnarok'.
A couple of comments about Ken. The first from Robert Icke (once a Ken-Friend!), from an article in The Guardian, 23 August 2015:
What turned you on to directing?
And the second, from an interview with Matthew Lillard in The Scotsman, 17 August 2015:
It was seeing Kenneth Branagh as Richard III, directed by Michael Grandage at Sheffield. I was 14 and my dad dragged me away from my PlayStation. It was a proper Damascene conversion - really electric. There was no language barrier. I wrote to Michael Grandage and asked him how he did that stuff. He said: if you come and see me I’ll try to tell you. This was before I’d ever been near a proper rehearsal room. He gave me all this advice, which I scribbled down and have been living by ever since.
Working with Sir Kenneth Branagh as Longeville in 'Love’s Labour’s Lost' seems to have crystallised some of this dissatisfaction with film. The movie was a critical and commercial disappointment, but the experience of working on it was never forgotten by Lillard, who felt energised and repurposed by it. “He was trying to make a 1930s musical out of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a play that no-one cares about, and I loved how he led people.
And that's today's sign of life! More soon, I hope!
“In most films there’s no control, and you are a tiny cog. Ken had us all on the same page, and we all were sent into three weeks of Camp Branagh before we started shooting. It was Shakespeare-meets-Fame with all kinds of different classes, like dancing and singing, and he’s the single best director influence in my life; a guy I respect and want to emulate. I loved the democracy, and the great thing about theatre is that it still has that camaraderie. We’re all equal under the floodlights.”
(1 September, thanks Lara, Ngoc, Jude, Jane)
Dear Ken-Friends - despite the tomb-like silence these last couple of months I am not dead and KB has not retired (now there's a cue for hysterical laughter). The saltmine has been frying my brain but all the goodies are being saved up for when I'm able to think after 5 pm. :-)
Just one thing today (sign of life) : fun stuff, a look back at when Kenneth was accepted into RADA and his local press was justly proud, along with amusing whippersnapper photos!
I'll be back!
(22 August 2015, thanks Emma)
Greetings keen-Kenners, a few more bits of news. More casting announced for the plays of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company: read a short article. Names and bios on the KBTC website (click on "Company" under each play).
Also a new article, the result of an interview as part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. You can see the "poster" here and photos from the interview here.
Kenneth attended the press night for Just Jim Dale at the Vaudeville Theatre on 28 May and you can see some photos of him navigating the fans here.
And to close, a couple of older photos: with Kevin Feige, during the time of directing Thor and in in Los Angeles, promoting Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit in January 2013.
That's it for today, more to come!
(28 June, thanks Jane, Lyn, Jude)
Hi all - this is a 'bits and bobs catch-up' update (and, unfortunately, not all the bits and bobs, that may take my entire lifetime, hahaha).
To start with, actual new news! About the casting of Perdita in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company's production of The Winter’s Tale - read about it here.
From a short while back, a resumé of the event Empire Presents… Sir Kenneth Branagh, part of Advertising Week Europe 2015. Read it here.
You can see some "new" deleted scenes from Cinderella, introduced by Kenneth, here. And you can read an older article about how well the film did at its opening: The Shoe Fits! 'Cinderella' Captures Box Office Title as $70 Million Debut Marks Highest Opening For Director Kenneth Branagh
You can listen to Kenneth reading ‘Fight for Life’ by Sofia Zambuto at the Final Of BBC2's 500 Words Competition. Read a brief article about the event here and see photos here.
And, the last bit for today, from among the older items on the virtual desk, excerpted from the Wall Street Journal Magazine, 13 February 2014:
WSJ Asks Six Luminaries to Weigh in on a Single Topic. This Month: Ambition
That's it for the moment. I'll be back!
“I recently played the lead in Macbeth, a drama about ambition, on the stage—unhealthy ambition, one might say, that carries resentment, aggression, treachery and acquisitiveness. Lady Macbeth says of her husband, ‘Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.’ But I think this pejorative association with ambition is a dangerous thing. Ambition can give us a sense of purpose, meaning and determination. And I think that ambition need not be ruthless. Ambition begets adventure, a process that teaches us that the journey is potentially more enjoyable than the arrival. Ambition has given me tremendous energy and a way of looking at the world. What I’ve learned about ambition is to share it, that it need not always be about you, that it works best quietly but insistently and can indeed be healthy, despite what Lady Macbeth says.”
— Branagh is an actor and director. His latest film, Cinderella, is out in March.
(14 June, thanks Jude, Hester)
Wee photo catch-up: a few photos added to the Tokyo Cinderella premiere gallery. New galleries: Meet the Filmmaker: Kenneth Branagh, special presentation for Cinderella at the Apple Store, London and
at the Empire Presents event, part of Advertising Week Europe in London.
(25 May, thanks Ngoc, Patricia)
Hi Kenners... we may never catch up, but not for lack of trying, so here are a few more things... one more article related to the Pragnell Prize in Stratford: ‘I Have an Emotional Attachment With This Place’ and some photo catch-up: arriving in Tokyo for the premiere of Cinderella and press conference and premiere of Cinderella in Tokyo, 8 April 2015.
More to come (slow drip, hahaha)!
(18 May, thanks Ngoc)
Back with a few more things.... The new news is that Sir Derek Jacobi will be playing Mercutio in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company production of Romeo and Juliet next year. It is clear that this production is not going to be run of the mill...(not that that was ever likely). An article is here.
There have been a number of articles about the Prganell Prize. You can read Kenneth's speech at the Birthday Luncheon here. The other articles are Kenneth Branagh - Shakespeare Remembered; Honorary Fellow Sir Kenneth Branagh Visits the Shakespeare Institute to Salute 'Fantastic' Collaboration With Royal Shakespeare Company and Sir Kenneth Branagh Receives Pragnell Prize.
A few new photos have been added to the Pragnell Prize Gallery.
More soon, I hope!
(3 May, thanks Jane, Haley)
Keen Kenners... I'm chipping away at the mass of articles and photos which will eventually end up in this online archive... So today there are two more articles about the launch of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company : Sir Kenneth Branagh Interview: 'My Bones Are in the Theatre' and Kenneth Branagh On His Big Return to the London Stage.
Also a short article about Kenneth receiving the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award on 25 April. There are also a couple of photos.
And tow more galleries: Photo Call for Cinderella in Madrid, 16 March 2015 and Appearing On the Spanish Television Show El Hormiguero, 16 March 2015.
That's it for now. More to come!
(26 April, thanks Virginia, Beth, Jane, Patricia, Isabel)
Woooo hooooo Ken fans! So... the limited information and promises all came together (spied by our sharp-eyed Ken-Friends [thanks Jane and Ngoc!] before midnight on Thursday in North America) and we have been welcomed to the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company (very attractive and clear website! - here's who gets the credit for that). Lovely photos of the principal actors involved. Don't miss Kenneth's invitation!
Three articles about the season here: Kenneth Branagh Announces New West End Season Starring Judi Dench and Cinderella Lovers, Kenneth Branagh Unveils All-star Residency at Garrick Theatre in London and Kenneth Branagh Unveils Year-long Garrick Season; Judi Dench Joins Winter's Tale. There are many more, they will be on the site eventually.
I am still puttering away at the mountain of Cinderella articles and photos... a couple of galleries are here: Cinderella Premiere, Moscow, 17 February 2015 and Hollywood Premiere of Cinderella, Los Angeles, 1 March 2015. More to come!
Closing with a bit of gossip from Sebastian Shakespeare in the Daily Mail, 13 April 2015:
Sir Kenneth Branagh’s lavish latest film, 'Cinderella', seems to have given him a palatial taste in houses.
Make of that what you will (if true the Georgian Group will be pleased!).
He bought a Georgian property in London’s Marylebone for £2 million, but previous owners had ripped out period features such as cornices, panelled doors and grand fireplaces.
He has now hired architect Jonathan Brunskill to restore it to its former glory. Bravo.
More to come!
(19 April, thanks Jane, Ngoc, Jude, Patricia)
Hi Kenners, back with a few more things... New photos have been added to the "on set" images - see them here. There are many more from the various premieres of the film - they will come!
There are lots of articles to catch up with (and I will, eventually!) and here are a few: On Movies: For Branagh, a Welcome Departure, Kenneth Branagh Looks Sharp As He Cosies Up to Wife Lindsay Brunnock at the London Premiere of 'Cinderella', Kenneth Branagh Talks About His Hollywood Comeback and We Catch Up With Actor and Director Kenneth Branagh.
(12 April, thanks Jane, Ngoc)
Greetings Ken-ites - I am back and resigned to the fact that getting all the articles and photos archived here on the site is going to be a loooooooong process. In (sorry about this) somewhat random order, here are three articles about Cinderella : Cinderella Man, Cinderella - Film Review: a Visually Sumptuous Treat, and Kenneth Branagh Goes Back to Basics For 'Cinderella'.
A short article from the visit to Belfast for the Cinderella premiere : Sir Kenneth Branagh Speaks Out Over Northern Ireland Arts Cuts.
Kenneth will be receiving the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award on Shakespeare's birthday and you can read about that here.
There is also a short article picking up on Ken's comments regarding a possible film version of Macbeth : Kenneth Branagh Confirms Martin Scorsese's 'Macbeth' Plans, Says It Should Be "Very Impressionistic". (Fingers crossed...)
More soon, and pictures the next time!
(29 March, thanks Ngoc, Pennie, John, Jane, Deborah)
Very quick, Kenners! I am going away for a week but have put up 4 articles, a bit randomly, as a sign of life. There are tons of reviews and Cinderella made a ton of money on its opening weekend. It is also tons of wonderful fun - see it if you can!
Articles: Cinderella, Sir Kenneth Branagh & a Bucket List, ‘Cinderella’ Has a Dusting of ‘Downton Abbey’, Review: Disney’s Live-Action Cinderella Rekindles Old Studio Magic, and Young Love: “Cinderella” and “It Follows”.
Back in a bit!
(17 March - Happy St. Patrick's Day! - thanks Ngoc, Renie, Jane, Susan)
Hi again - not very much today (brain-dead from the salt mine these days) - just a few photos from a refreshing walk Ken took in Moscow: see them here.
There are a bunch of reviews (and Cinderella hasn't even really opened yet) which I hope to get to soon. And photos (ditto)!
(9 March, thanks Eugenia)
Hi Kenners! I have added a cartload of articles and reviews - the easiest way to see them is using the "new" flags in the Reading Room. There is a good Q & A from November 2014 which I missed back then. You'll find all the others in the February 2015 section.
On Wednesday 4 March you can catch Kenneth on The View in the morning and on Late Night With Seth Myers late at night. And perhaps online after the fact for those of us who don't get the channels.
Kenneth will be premiering Cinderella in Belfast on 22 March with the ticket sales benefitting two local charities (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) and Into Film). Tickets, £12 for adults, £8 for children (16 and under), family ticket, £35. Tickets only from NICVA. See www.nicva.org/kenneth-branagh-cinderella-premiere.
There is more, including lots of photos, which I hope to get to soon.
(1 March, thanks Jane, Paula, Haley)
Here are just a couple of reviews (show of good intentions, hahaha): one and two.
(25 February, thanks Renie)
Greetings 2B-or-not-2Bers (who remembers the 90s?)! The Cinderella tidal wave has begun. Just directing a few drops your way (slowly, but surely, we'll fill the pool).
You can see a "B-roll" (filming snippets) video here. More interesting, the full press conference at the Berlinale is available here, and you can see a red carpet video here. Finally there is a video from the (somewhat chaotic) premiere in Moscow here.
There are lovely photos from the Berlinale press conference and premiere here.
More very soon!
(18 February, thanks Patricia, Haley, Ngoc, Paula, Isabel)
Hello again keen Kenners - Vanity Fair is featuring lots of Brits in its 'Hollywood Edition' and You-Know-Who is one of them. You can see him in a video here and very briefly in another. There is also photo : Cinderella, the Prince and the Director.
A new Cinderella interview is here. The film premieres at the Berlinale on 12 February and Kenneth will be in Italy on 18 February, with Lily James and Richard Madden, for a premiere (the film run begins 12 March).
As well, there is this announcement from Variety:
Imax and Disney have set an Imax release for “Cinderella,” starring Lily James and Cate Blanchett, to coincide with the film’s worldwide day and date launch on March 13.
And the last Cinderella treat: a couple of set photos.
The live-action “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh from Chris Weitz’s script, will be digitally remastered into the Imax format. Producers are Simon Kinberg, Allison Shearmur and David Barron.
And last but not least, you can watch a very nice promotional video for the Hallé Orchestra, with some poetry recited by and a couple of clips with Kenneth. This is the press blurb:
Macclesfield production company Mediafour has produced a video for Manchester-based symphony orchestra, the Hallé, showcasing the ensemble's rehearsal and recording venue, Hallé St Peter’s in Ancoats.
That's it for today - more soon, I hope!
The building, which has been painstakingly restored over the last decade is now the permanent rehearsal centre for the Hallé and a resource for the local community. The video details the Hallé's involvement in the restoration, and aims to raise awareness and acknowledge the support given from their partners.
Susanna Caudwell, Sponsorship and Corporate Membership Manager said: "we wanted the video to demonstrate the importance of the relationships we have with our corporate partners, the local community and patrons."
Mediafour have produced a film which does exactly that and showcases the beauty of Hallé St Peter’s at the same time."
Jon Falkner, Director, Mediafour added: "featuring interviews from Sir Kenneth Branagh, Sir Mark Elder and key sponsors of the Hallé it was a really exciting project as we got to meet some very interesting and creative minds."
The video also features footage of the Orchestra rehearsing in situ with images of the Ensemble's history projected onto the musicians and the building behind.
(10 February, thanks Emma, Jane, Lyn)
Greeting Ken-Friends! There is new and exciting news! Read it here: Ken to Storm West End With His Own Troupe Which Includes Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale'! And you can read essentially the same information, with a bit more filler, here.
With the references back to the Renaissance Theatre Company in the articles above, this photo from 1989 will take you back. One point for each name!
In 2014, thanks as ever to the tireless efforts of Jude Tessel (who initiated the the "birthday honours" in 1997), the Ken-Friends contributed generously to the annual fundraising effort which celebrates Kenneth Branagh's birthday by supporting a student from Northern Ireland who is attending RADA. You can read Kenneth and RADA's thank-you notes here.
Catching up with a few articles: one I missed after the Cinderella midnight trailer was released, one about the shooting location for one Wallander episode of the new series and another about the Wallander episode currently shooting. And interesting news about renting Ken's jacket from Richard III. But not by mere mortals for Hallowe'en or Carnevale, alas....
And catching up with a random snippet I meant to post eons ago (sorry to any London fans who might have attended!)... BAFTA, Backstage,"an exclusive exhibition of photography – offering a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes of the biggest night in the UK film calendar: the British Academy Film Awards" was open to the public in London for two days. Needless to say there was a photo of Kenneth. Also, "24 unique and exclusive limited edition prints from the BAFTA, Backstage collection [were] auctioned by Bonhams at a special gala event on 30 January." You can see them here.
A little round-up of what they are saying...
From Film School Rejects, writing about 7 Directors Who Completely Changed Their Style:
For years, Kenneth Branagh was the man of Shakespeare. Any directorial turn that wasn’t written by the Bard saw him exploring similar themes in more modern contexts, like 'Dead Again' or 'Peter’s Friends'. Then, out of nowhere, he was tapped to helm 'Thor'. The assignment, like Lynch’s 'Straight Story', was one that seemed apt yet surprising. 'Thor'’s story reflected storylines and treatments from Branagh’s past like 'Hamlet' and 'Frankenstein', but also thrust the director into new, heavily computer generated territory.
Excerpted from a longer entertainment article in The Telegraph:
Now the actor/director has a much more expansive directorial career. From 'Thor', he moved to the action thriller 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit', and his work will next screen in 2015’s 'Cinderella'. The only downside to the openness that allowed him to nab the gig and move into other high-profile projects: that other filmmakers haven’t been extended the same faith.
According to an article in the Bracknell News the butcher Lewis of Sunningdale "is a favourite of [...] Sir Kenneth Branagh".
Jaimie Alexander sounds like a bit of a handful. The 30-year-old American actress admits that
she had a “screaming fit” at Sir Kenneth Branagh while he was directing her in the film, 'Thor'. “I
got angry and upset, because I knew that I was in the wrong,” she says. “He was so gracious
and kind to me. He absolutely got me.”
Even more unforgiveable, perhaps, was that she hadn’t even heard of Sir Kenneth. “Can you
believe I had no clue who Branagh was?” she tells Harrods magazine.
“I once confessed to him I’d never been to the theatre. I thought he’d be horrified, but he just
said: 'Darling, you’re lucky. You’ve no idea how many tedious evenings you’ve saved yourself’.”
Brian Blessed has been quoted on Ken a couple of times relatively recently... in the Radio Times, in August 2014:
BB: York University has named a room after me and what do you think it’s called? The Brian
Blessed Area for Quiet Study!
And in the Daily Mail, January 2015:
Q: A Brian Blessed Area for Quiet Study? Now there’s a surprise.
BB: Kenneth Branagh is one of the few actors I’m very close to (we have a father-son relationship)
and he was asked what I’m really like. He said: “He’s the quietest man I’ve ever met.” It comes
as a shock to people because I’ve often played larger-than-life characters.
He has no other children, but he regards the actor/director Kenneth Branagh, who lives near
him in Surrey and has directed him in several films, as a surrogate son. ‘We have a father-son
relationship, though it sometimes seems like I’m the son and he’s the father,’ jokes Brian.
From an interview with Joe Sofranko, the producer, director and star of a comedy series "Complete Works", in The Daily Beast, November 2014:
Q: I have to know, who is your favorite Shakespearean actor?
Excerpted from a profile of Anjana Vasan, one of the witches in Macbeth, 14 July 2014:
JS: I love Kenneth Branagh, he’s the bomb. I really hope that Kenneth Branagh watches our show. It
would be a dream. Have you seen Laurence Fishburne in 'Othello'? He was incredible in that! But definitely Kenneth Branagh.
Then came “the Scottish play”, so-called because Macbeth is unlucky. Its casting director had gone to Cardiff earlier to see Anjana, in an American play, at her director’s recommendation. “The witches are very prominent in this version, we do it our way. We asked to climb the set’s monumental rocks to gain stature since we’re petite. We climb high, along grooves cut into the rocks — balancing, doing pliés — to create an illusion of power.”
Excerpted from Films Paid For Almost Entirely by a Wealthy(ish) Benefactor, 1 August 2014:
The play premiered in Manchester’s International Festival last year before its American debut. Between these engagements, Branagh directed 'Cinderella', a big-budget Hollywood spectacular. Generously, he took Anjana along for a small part. “Yes, Ken is the director but, as actor, he’s part of the ensemble. He’s accessible, he never distances himself. Though always busy, he treats you like a friend,” she enthuses. “He gives us (witches) a good-luck hug before every performance! We have a professional relationship. You never feel like you’re around a great Shakespearean actor — he’s silly and funny, he makes jokes.”
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
And a snippet from a daily-mail-ish article (in the Daily Mail, not missing anything if you don't read the original), by Quentin Letts, 1 August 2014:
Paid for by: Kenneth Branagh
After the meteoric rise of Kenneth Branagh's directorial film career (snagging an Oscar
nomination for his debut feature, 'Henry V'), it hit something of a bump with the commercial
disappointment that was 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein'. Expecting to build on the success of
Bram Stoker's Dracula, Branagh was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to steer Frankenstein
back to the big screen, with the mooted idea at the time being for a series of classic horror
Branagh thus decided to go back to basics for his next film, the hugely underappreciated
comedy 'In The Bleak Midwinter' (released as 'A Midwinter's Tale' in the US). We wrote about the
film in more detail here.
This was a project funded out of Branagh's own pocket, written for and starring his close circle
of acting friends. Richard Briers gives arguably his best big screen comedy performance in the
As Branagh told us in an interview earlier in the year, "It was very personal. Personal to the
point of having paid for it, and it was one of life's great pleasures to sell it for a bit more than
you paid. And at the cast and crew screening, as everybody came out, giving everybody a
cheque". He added that, "You've never seen a more surprised woman than Joan Collins,
walking out of the back of one of the smaller cinemas in Leicester Square, and we were sitting
there like people with banknotes in a brown envelope".
Branagh also said that "I would like to make that kind of film again, and I suspect I will". Hope
"I was there the night Kenneth Branagh, in a West End Chekhov production, dropped real tears
at a moment of stress for his character. It is so seared into my memory that I can still picture his
pose, even though I forget which play it was.
A Cinderella snippet from a Baz Bamigboye column, 22 January:
Lily James hitched up the skirt of her spectacular ballgown and tried to count the number of layers underneath.
So there is your Berlinale Film Festival news - stay tuned!
She told me Kenneth Branagh, director of the live action Disney 'Cinderella', kept asking costume designer Sandy Powell to add more petticoats. ‘There’s three miles of fabric or something like that,’ James told me during a break between shooting at Pinewood studios.
Branagh shot the ballroom scenes over six days. He said: ‘We shot from below, from above, through windows, so that you could feel the endorphin energy running around the room. Cate Blanchett, who plays the stepmother, walked on set and said: “Oh, my God!”’
That’s exactly what I exclaimed when I visited the same day. The mammoth 007 sound-stage had been turned into a cavernous ballroom, packed with hundreds of dancers. And right in the middle were James and her prince, Richard Madden, dancing cheek to cheek.
Cinderella’s having a big gala at the Berlin Film Festival on February 13. It opens in the U.S. on March 7, and here on March 27.
And to finish, a video invitation by Kenneth to the concert of the music of Patrick Doyle for Kenneth Branagh's films, held March 2014. You can follow that with a wonderful article with lots of audio links to an interview with Kenneth and the concert rehearsal. Enjoy!
The July 2014 to December 2014 news has moved to the News & Notes Archive.
That's it for the moment!
(1 February, thanks Jane, Jude, Pennie, Renie)
Happy New Year Ken-fans! 2015 will bring us Cinderella and Wallander, and who knows what else (dare we hope for something on stage?). In the meantime I have dusted off some older articles I missed and a few newer ones.
A "Midnight Changes Everything" Official Sneak Peek trailer has been released for Cinderella, as well as "The Legacy" Official Featurette. I have also put links to the two-part video interview with Kenneth on the Cinderella page.
There are also a few new (and older) articles: Cinderella Trailer Debuts! Director Sir Kenneth Branagh Opens Up About the Live-Action Disney Movie!, Disney’s “Cinderella” Exhibit Celebrates an All-New Live Action Film, Barry Actor to Dazzle in Disney Epic and Swarovski Adds Its Magic To Disney's 'Cinderella'.
There is also finally a gallery of stills from Cinderella.
A final catch-up for Macbeth articles: Getting “Macbeth” Right, At Park Avenue Armory, the Play's the Thing, but Oy, the Seating,VIPs Toast ‘Macbeth’, and Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Macbeth’ Goes Out in a Fitting Burst of Blood.
I have updated (shockingly late!) the birthday donation page, adding the information I meant to add a year ago (cough). We should have news about the 2014 donation soon. Read about 2013 and earlier years here.
I have a bunch of snippets collected which I will try to post this week. In the meantime I hope everyone has a good start to the new year!
(4 January, thanks Jude)