A Labour of Love With No Losers

OK!, March 28 2000
*thanks to Jane Land

In this week's Oscars special edition of OK! On Air Kenneth Branagh and Timothy Spall talk of their all-singing, all-dancing musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.

You might have thought that the glamour of classic Hollywood had gone for good with a swish of stole and a turn of a shoulder pad, but Kenneth Branagh has brought it all back with his musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost. The lavish sets, chorus girls and musical numbers of Hollywood's heyday, that made powdered egg and rationing more bearable have been resurrected by Kenneth, who not only stars, sings and dances in the film, but was also director and producer.

When OK! On Air caught up with Kenneth and his Love's Labour's Lost co-star Timothy Spall, both were naturally a little worn out from endless pirouettes and pas de deux, but Kenneth confesses being on both sides of the camera was particularly gruelling. "It was tiring," he says, "but I have no complaints - no one asked me to do it, it was my own stupid fault. It was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

Timothy, meanwhile, found that his part was enough to put him off dancing for good. "I really hadn't done any apart from the days when I used to jump around in my tights at RADA and doing a bit of drunken falling and dancing at various parties," he explains. "So there'd be a 20-year gap before I'd put the leg warmers on again. Luckily, the cracks of the bones and the groans were drowned out by the music. In retrospect, I'm not a great lover of jumping around and sweating. I think sitting down and acting is much better," he pauses and then laughs, "So if they want to do Ironside again I'm your man!"

Despite the aches and pains both stars feel, it was all worth it. Although Kenneth admits there were times when he doubted himself and had to convince his cast - which also included Alicia Silverstone, Natascha McElhone, Adrian Lester and Matthew Lillard - that the exertion would pay off.

"You should have seen their faces on the first morning," says Kenneth. "We read through the play on the first day of rehearsal and I said, 'Right then, so tights on and we will start by doing There's No Business Like Show Business.'

"By the end of the first day the actors were like, 'How were we going to do this? We've spent one day on one number and none of us can do it. And we've got another ten numbers to do and then we've got the play as well.' So I said to them, 'Yeah, but it's fun, it's great! It will be better tomorrow.' Then I would go home and ring the producer and say, 'What are we going to do? We're never going to be able to do this.' When it did come together it was a mixture of camaradarie, exhilaration and sheer terror. It was great fun."

After such a busy schedule Kenneth plans to take things easy for a while. "For the moment I'm going to try and persuade people that it's a good idea to see Love's Labour's Lost," he says, "It's 93 minutes where you won't be able to take the smile off your face."

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