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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Charles Branagh, born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor and film director. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, but has also appeared in a number of films and television series.

Personal life
Branagh was married to actress Emma Thompson from 20 August 1989 until 1995. After he and Thompson divorced, he was in a well-publicised relationship for several years with actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he directed and starred with in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In 2003 he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock, to whom he was introduced by Bonham Carter in 1997.
He speaks Italian and is a lifelong supporter of Belfast football team Linfield, as well as Tottenham Hotspur and Glasgow Rangers.
Early life

Branagh, the middle of three children, was born and brought up in Belfast, the son of working class Protestant parents Frances (née Harper) and William Branagh, a plumber and joiner who ran a company that specialised in fitting partitions and suspended ceilings. He was educated at Grove Primary School. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape the Troubles. He attended Whiteknights Primary School, then Meadway School, Tilehurst, where he appeared in school productions such as Toad of Toad Hall" and Oh, What a Lovely War!. At school, he affected an English accent to avoid bullying. On his identity today he has said, "I feel Irish. I don't think you can take Belfast out of the boy," and he attributes his "love of words" to his Irish heritage. He then went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art on a B.A. Fine Arts Degree.
Stage work
Branagh achieved some early measure of success in his native Northern Ireland for his role as the title character in the BBC's Play for Today trilogy known as the Billy Plays (1982–84), written by Graham Reid and set in Belfast.
He received acclaim in the UK for his stage performances, first winning the 1982 SWET Award for Best Newcomer, for his role as Judd in Julian Mitchell's Another Country, immediately after leaving RADA. Branagh was part of the 'new wave’ of actors to emerge from the Academy. Others included Jonathan Pryce, Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser, Bruce Payne and Fiona Shaw. In 1984 he appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V, directed by Adrian Noble. The production played to full houses, especially at the Barbican in London. It was this production that he adopted for the film version of the play in 1989. He and David Parfitt founded the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, following success with several productions on the London 'Fringe', including Branagh's full-scale production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lyric Studio, co-starring with Samantha Bond. The first major Renaissance production was Branagh's Christmas 1987 staging of Twelfth Night at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, starring Richard Briers as Malvolio and Frances Barber as Viola, and with an original score by actor, musician and composer Patrick Doyle, who two years later was to compose the music for Branagh's film adaptation of Henry V. This Twelfth Night was later adapted for television.
Branagh has also been involved in several made-for-TV films. Among his most acclaimed portrayals is that of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the film Warm Springs (2005), for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. Though the film received 16 Emmy nominations, winning five (including Best Made-For-Television Film), Branagh did not win the award for his portrayal. He did, though, receive an Emmy for his portryal of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich in the TV film Conspiracy (2001), a depiction of the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi officials decided on the Final Solution. In 2002 Branagh starred in the two-part television movie Shackleton, a dramatization of the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition's battle for survival, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award and an Emmy.Branagh also narrated the BBC documentaries Walking With Dinosaurs, World War 1 in Colour, Walking With Beasts and Walking With Monsters, and the BBC miniseries Great Composers.

Film work
Branagh is known for his film adaptations of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V (1989), followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Love's Labour's Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but was sent directly to television in the U.S., where it aired on HBO in August 2007. Branagh was also in the 1995 film version of Othello where he played Iago; however, he did not direct the film; it was directed by Oliver Parker.
Notable non-Shakespeare films in which Branagh has appeared include Dead Again (1991) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West (1999), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Valkyrie (2008). He starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He also recently played the Minister, Dormandy, (a parody of PMG Tony Benn) in the film The Boat That Rocked (2009). From 1989 to 1996 Branagh mostly directed his own films, but the commercial and critical failure of Love's Labour's Lost ended his directorial career for a time. In 2006, the same year that Branagh's film version of As You Like It was released, he also directed a film version of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. Branagh has also directed the thriller Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film. At a film promotion for Valkyrie Branagh confirmed he would be directing Thor, a film based on the Marvel superhero. Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Natalie Portman began filming in January 2010 for a 6 May 2011 release.

Branagh has been nominated for four Academy Awards. His first two nominations were for Henry V (one each for directing and acting). He also received similar BAFTA Award nominations for his film work, winning one for his direction. His first BAFTA TV award came in April 2009, for Best Drama Series (Wallander). Branagh's two other Academy Award nominations were for the 1992 film short subject Swan Song and for his work on the screenplay of Hamlet in 1996. Branagh has co-starred several times with actress Emma Thompson, to whom he was married from 1989 to 1995. They appeared together in Look Back In Anger, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Dead Again, and Peter's Friends. More recently, they both appeared in The Boat That Rocked, though with no shared scenes.
He is Honorary President of NICVA (the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action). He received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Queen's University of Belfast in 1990. He is also a patron for the charity Over The Wall.
In 1994, Branagh declined an appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000.
Alongside Roberto Benigni, he is one of only two non-American actors to be nominated for Oscars for acting, writing, and directing, and one of eight actors to have achieved this honour. The other six are Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, George Clooney, John Huston and John Cassavetes.
On 10 July 2009, Branagh was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RomaFictionFest.
Year Title Role Notes
1981 Chariots of Fire Artist Uncredited
1983 To the Lighthouse Charles Tansley Television series
1985 Coming Through D.H. Lawrence Television
1987 Fortunes of War Guy Pringle
Television series: 7 episodes
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1987 A Month in the Country James Moon
1987 High Season Rick
1988 Thompson Various roles Television series: 6 episodes
1988 Strange Interlude Gordan Evans Television
1989 Look Back In Anger Jimmy Porter
1989 Henry V Henry V
European Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1991 Dead Again
Roman Strauss
Mike Church
1992 Peter's Friends Andrew Benson
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Benedick
1993 Swing Kids Herr Knopp, Gestapo Uncredited
1994 Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
1995 Othello Iago Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
1996 Hamlet Hamlet San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
1998 The Gingerbread Man Rick Magruder
1988 The Theory of Flight Richard
1988 Celebrity Lee Simon
1988 The Proposition Father Michael McKinnon
1988 The Dance of Shiva Col. Evans Short film
1999 The Periwig-Maker Periwig-maker Short film; voice only
1999 Wild Wild West Dr. Arliss Loveless Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1999 Alien Love Triangle Steve Chesterman Short film
2000 The Road to El Dorado Miguel Voice only
2000 Love's Labour's Lost Berowne
2000 How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Peter McGowan
2001 Conspiracy Reinhard Heydrich
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2001 Schneider's 2nd Stage Joseph Barnett Short film
2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence A. O. Neville
2002 Shackleton Ernest Henry Shackleton
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Professor Gilderoy Lockhart
London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Acting
2004 Five Children and It Uncle Albert
2005 Warm Springs Franklin D. Roosevelt
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2007 Sleuth Other Man on TV Uncredited
2008 Valkyrie Henning von Tresckow
2008 10 Days to War Colonel Tim Collins Television series: 1 episode
2008–present Wallander Kurt Wallander
Television series: 6 episodes
Also executive producer
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series
Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2009 The Boat That Rocked Minister Dormandy
2011 My Week with Marilyn Laurence Olivier

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