Empire Awards 2000 transcript

Empire Awards, February 17 2000
*transcribed by Catherine Kerrigan

Mariella Frostrup: We now move onto the Empire Inspiration Award which recognises true mavericks of the movies, the people who change the rules, the people who innovate and indeed invigorate the cinema-going experience. This year's Empire Inspiration Award goes to a terrifyingly talented man. He's a luminary of the theatre who's equally at home with film. He speaks Shakespearean like it's his mother tongue and makes it thrilling for the multiplex generation. As an actor, he's worked with Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Denzel Washington and Will Smith. As a director, he was daring enough to successfully take on Hitchcock at his own game, and has turned his hand to comedy, horror, and now even a musical - a Shakespearean musical of course - in the wonderful Love's Labour's Lost. He's made a better version of Henry V than Laurence Olivier and knew that it was essential for history to have a definitive version of Hamlet on film, which he duly delivered, in 70mm, for four hours. He had the balls to write his autobiography at 27, knows just about everything there is to know about dinosaurs and apparently his mum is Julie Christie. In every respect he is a true renaissance man. Shall we see why?

[Cut to clip from Love's Labour's Lost - Berowne and Rosaline talking about dancing at Brabant, followed by I Won't Dance.]

[KB comes up to the stage to receive award from MF to huge noisy applause.]

Kenneth Branagh: Thank you, thank you very much. [Points to screen]. March 24th, at cinemas all over the country. [More applause - KB points to LLL table]. Ah, inspirational table over there. Ah, erm [looks at award], it's impossible to know what to say. Um, ah, [brushes award with sleeve] I'm astonished and, um, I'm very very touched and I'm very very grateful. Thank you Empire. [Leaves stage to more applause]

Cut to studio.

Mariella Frostrup: Now, to me, it seemed that the Inspiration Award should have gone to you for managing to get a studio to let you make another Shakespeare film but this time set as a thirties musical with Love's Labour's Lost. Now surely they must have all been scratching their heads when you turned up with that idea.

Kenneth Branagh: Yeah, tough sell. Because (a) no-one had even heard of the play and then I made the mistake of saying "you know, it was the only play in the entire canon of Shakespeare that wasn't performed for 200 years after he died, because people didn't think it was very good." Faces dropped and then, um...

Mariella Frostrup: That doesn't help your cause.

Kenneth Branagh: No, it doesn't help, no. I realise that I was digging my own grave, but I said, "but, you know, the thing is, we're going to do it as a musical". Oh, the genre in film that hasn't worked for the last 30 years. Right. So. Obscure Shakespeare comedy, romantic film musical...

Mariella Frostrup: Have a cheque.

Kenneth Branagh: Yeah! You must do this.

Mariella Frostrup: What about the juggling act, the perennial juggling act between directing, raising the money for films, appeaering in them, etc? Does it ever get a mite confusing?

Kenneth Branagh: It was on this one. It was more Tonto barking mad on this one than ever before. The biggest being remembering these fucking dance steps! But I started about a month before the rest of the company and I cunningly gave myself less to do.

Mariella Frostrup: And extra rehearsal time! That's very unfair! [Shakes her finger at him.]

Kenneth Branagh: Yeah, well, they were getting time when we started because they were all practising every time I was doing acting scenes with them, so they got my time that way.

Back to Articles Listing
Back to the Compendium