Branagh Back on Firm Ground

Daily Mirror, November 30 1995
by Garth Pearce

Kenneth Branagh has money, fame and talent - but the plot has gone wrong somewhere along the line.

His marriage to Emma Thompson is over and his last film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was hammered.

The critics are gloating, because Branagh is a working-class guy who dared to succeed in a business littered with sneering theatre snobs.

Even as he was delivering successful films such as Henry V, Dead Again, Peter's Friends and Much Ado About Nothing, he was portrayed as precious.

In fact, the down-to-earth joiner's son does not spend wildly on houses, cars, clothes or holidays.

He says: "Once I have paid the mortgage and have a comfortable lifestyle, what else is there? I don't plough money into insurance or pension schemes. I do not have a pension, because I think it is a con.""

The best thing about money, he says, was being able to buy his parents a three -bedroom semi in Reading. They had been renting it since they moved from Belfast, when he was 12.

He says: "It was in a complete state of disrepair and the whole of my adolescent years seemed to be spent with Dad doing up the house.

"The day I did that for them was one of the most magical in my life."

A less happy memory is his failed movie Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He hopes his latest film, In The Bleak Midwinter, will help revive his career fortunes. In contrast to Frankenstein, which had a pounds 30m budget, the new movie is a small-scale, very English movie in black and white, about a group of struggling actors. He put in much of his pounds 850,000 fee to make it.

While his career has taken a bashing, his private life has fared no better.

Emma said just before the break-up of their six-year marriage that if Branagh wanted to do a Hugh Grant and have sex with a prostitute, that would be fine by her.

But Branagh refuses to criticise. He says: "She is a remarkable girl and says what she thinks."

As far as he's concerned, his private life is staying just that - private. "No one will ever get me to give a full account."

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