Kenneth Branagh Answers the Proust Questionnaire
The writer and director of 'Belfast' on mind reading, movie snacks, and reincarnation as a Jack Russell terrier
Vanity Fair, 1 March 2022
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Eating ice cream in the cinema, watching the trailers, with the main film about to start.
On what occasion do you lie? When Tottenham Hotspur lose a football match and I defend it as a wonderful opportunity to learn.
Which living person do you most admire? Our local doctor.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My wife, and literature.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Vacillation.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Time wasting.
What is your greatest extravagance? Red wine from Northern Italy.
What is your motto? Be early, be cheerful, say thank you.
What is your greatest fear? Ignorance.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Doubting Thomas.
What is your favorite journey? Home.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Dignity.
What do you dislike most about your appearance? No good disliking ourselves—gives the world an excuse to do the same.
Which word or phrase do you most overuse? “In the current state of knowledge.”
What is your greatest regret? Ever having regrets.
When and where were you happiest? Here. Now.
Which talent would you most like to have? Mind reading.
What is your current state of mind? Exercised.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Overthinking.
Which living person do you most despise? I despise no one. Waste of energy.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? Make it massively bigger.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Decades of friendships.
What is your most treasured possession? A sense of humor.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Lovelessness.
Where would you like to live? Anywhere happy.
What is your favorite occupation? Reading.
What is your most marked characteristic? Restlessness.
What do you most value in your friends? Laughter.
Who are your favorite writers? Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson.
What is it that you most dislike? Violence.
<How would you like to die? At peace.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? A projectionist, or a football player.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky’s 'The Idiot'.
Who are your heroes in real life? The workers of our British National Health Service.
What are your favorite names? Tyrone, Eustacia.
If you could choose to come back as a person or thing, what would it be? A happy and healthy Jack Russell terrier who learns how to cure cancer.