Kenneth Branagh's Surreal Oscar Memories

NBC, 24 January 2012
By Scott Huver
* Thanks Jules

Just how surreal and intense does the Hollywood awards season whirlwind get for a nominee? PopcornBiz put the question to Kenneth Branagh, who has racked up four Academy Award nominations since 1990 and just added his fifth for his supporting turn in "My Week With Marilyn."

“I enjoyed it when I first went to the Oscars in 1990, I flew in from Japan. I was in a play – I was touring with 'King Lear,' playing Edgar. I finished the matinee. I had to rush to get a plane. I was covered in mud. I had to change on the way. I got onto the airplane. Under my clothes I was covered in mud from the storm scene in 'King Lear.' I got on a plane to Hollywood and literally because of the time difference I arrived way before I left. So I left on Sunday night in Japan and I arrived on Sunday morning in Los Angeles. I already felt that I was in the crazy dream of the Hollywood award season. I was being very kindly looked after by Sam Goldwyn Jr. who was presenting 'Henry V' and Tom Rothman who's now co-chairman of 20th Century Fox. I was at Sam's house that very evening, jet lagged and feeling as though I'd gone back in time.”

“Then the next evening I went to the Oscars where two more things were a part of the surreal experience. One was standing at the urinal and two urinals away to my left was Steve Martin who was congratulating me on being in 'Henry V' and two rungs away the other way was another actor doing the same thing. Everybody was rushing because the thing was about to start and it seemed a weird place to meet tuxedoed actors rushing from the loo to get into the ceremony.”

“Then I remember on the way in, very, very kind to me indeed were Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson who had just come back from London. They'd seen the movie, but they'd also been to, London where they said, 'Hey, we loved your movie and we also saw a terrific production of "The Cherry Orchard " with a wonderful actress we don't see over here.

Her name is Judi Dench. It was directed by a wonderful young director we don't see over here who's name is Sam Mendes.' This was before Judi had sort of broken internationally, before Sam had, and indeed it was the beginning of my career. I just remember them being so sweet, so kind and so welcoming and all these other weirdnesses, going back in time, bumping into Steve Martin in the loo and everything about it being a beautiful, crazy, surreal moment.”

“I guess that's how I think about award seasons, full of friendship and a feeling that you're living in a Magritte painting.”

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