I Was At the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art With Ken
The Observer, November 26 1995
by Geraldine Alexander
1981 was a famously good year
for talent at RADA. Kenneth Branagh, Jo McGann, John Sessions,
Katherine Hunter and Douglas Hodge stood out from the start.
. . We were all great friends. Branagh hung out with Sessions
and Mark Hadfield. They were inseparable. All three of them were
Branagh was the confident, contemplative
one. I vividly remember his stunning performance as the drunken
doctor, Chebutykin, in Three Sisters. Everyone was astounded
by his precocious technical ability. He also played Hamlet to
my Ophelia, a role which he prepared from the second week of
the course. Hadfield played Polonious, and is playing him again
in In the Bleak Mid Winter, which is directed by Ken and released
this week. And Branagh is preparing to play Hamlet yet again
in a new film: it's uncanny.
The pressure was really on us
at RADA but we were all so dedicated, we didn't seem to mind.
We lived and breathed each other. One of the things that has
changed since is that there are more women now. Back then it
was 7:14, the ratio was meant to be a realistic reflection of
the business out there.
The amazing thing is, most of
us still keep in touch. And of course Ken uses us in so many
of his performances. When I met him at the Belfast Film Festival
last week, he did an incredibly generous thing: he arranged a
special screening for us (my company Method and Madness) because
we weren't able to attend the official gala. He was totally exhausted
but he still managed to do us a favour. That's just what he was
like at college: a really nice guy.
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