Belfast Telegraph, Wednesday, 7 November 2001
By Eddie McIlwaine

Ken Takes Potter Sequel in Stride

EMMY Award winner Ken Branagh was back on a movie set today - getting down to work on the second Harry Potter blockbuster.

"I haven't really got a minute to celebrate my success in Hollywood," said the Ulster star who was head-hunted by director Chris Columbus to take on the role of Lockhart in Potter II.

The sequel to the first Potter, which is being hailed as the film of the year, will be called Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and will once again star 12-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, son of Ulsterman Alan who left Belfast 20 years ago for a career in the theatre.

Branagh's Emmy was for his star part in the World War II television drama Conspiracy in which he plays a leading Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich.

"It's a startling story based on a conference the SS leaders held to discuss the Final Solution, the decision to kill off the Jewish race," Branagh explained.

"It is based on the notes taken at the conference which have been dramatised with menacing results."

Conspiracy is likely to be screened by the BBC early next year.

Meanwhile, actor-director Branagh has another triumph to toast when he gets a breather away from the next Potter adventure.

His The Play Wot I Wrote, about comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, has just been hailed by the critics as a major success on the West End stage.

"I have to divide myself between the Potter set outside London and backstage at the Wishart Theatre while the play is settling in," he explained.

"These are hectic days and I have a lot of other commitments too. But I still manage to keep in contactwith Belfast and I still have my interests in the junior theatre world at home.

"I'm delighted to be involved in the high adventures of young Harry.

"I was a guest at the premiere of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone. This is just the kind of film I enjoyed watching after school in my home in north Belfast all those years ago." Branagh left Belfast as a nine-year-old when his carpenter father took the family to a new life in England in the early years of the Troubles.

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