Want the news as soon as it comes in? Join Ken-Friends, the Kenneth Branagh Mailing List, which has spies in every corner of the globe... ;-). And if you have a bit of news or info yourself, let me know. This includes any "chance" encounters you might have with our Ken (on the street, in a restaurant, outside his home as you're being dragged away by security), but if you're stalking him, I don't wanna know...

 
 
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?

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.

And the second, from an interview with Matthew Lillard in The Scotsman, 17 August 2015:
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.

“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.”

And that's today's sign of life! More soon, I hope!
(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).

Bits...

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.

And bobs...

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

Kenneth Branagh

“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.

That's it for the moment. I'll be back!
(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.

More coming...
(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.

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.

Make of that what you will (if true the Georgian Group will be pleased!).

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.

More soon!
(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.

More soon!
(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.

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 the last Cinderella treat: a couple of set photos.

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.

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.

That's it for today - more soon, I hope!
(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.

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.

Excerpted from a longer entertainment article in The Telegraph:
Identity Crisis

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’.”

According to an article in the Bracknell News the butcher Lewis of Sunningdale "is a favourite of [...] Sir Kenneth Branagh".

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!

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.

And in the Daily Mail, January 2015:
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?

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.

Excerpted from a profile of Anjana Vasan, one of the witches in Macbeth, 14 July 2014:
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.”

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.”

Excerpted from Films Paid For Almost Entirely by a Wealthy(ish) Benefactor, 1 August 2014:
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
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 adaptations.

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 movie.

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 so.

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:
"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.

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.

So there is your Berlinale Film Festival news - stay tuned!

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)