Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is an Irish-born actor, producer, scriptwriter, and director known for his film and television adaptations of Shakespearean plays and cinematic blockbusters such as Thor and Cinderella. Kenneth Branagh has put on many professional hats, some of which have been acclaimed by critics. Although much of his work has been in the theater and film industry, Branagh has been involved in the television industry. He played the title roles of Hamlet and King Lear in the BBC radio programs and also tried his hand as a narrator in several audiobooks.
Kenneth Branagh’s Early Life, and Rise to Fame
Branagh was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on December 10, 1960, the son of a Protestant working class. His family moved to read, England when he was only 9 years old to escape the violent religious conflict now known as The Troubles. He quickly adopted an English accent to avoid bullying at school. As a teenager, he attended a performance of a Shakespeare play that touched him so much that he decided to dedicate himself to this craft.
He appeared in numerous school productions and then studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he gained an exceptional reputation and the Bancroft Prize, which he used to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. Together with David Parfitt, Branagh founded the Renaissance Theatre Company, his own theater company.
Kenneth Branagh was one of the new actors supported by RADA. During his time at the Academy, he played the leading role in several productions, including Henry V, which he later adapted into a film that distinguished him as a stage actor of undisputed talent.
His theater organization, the Renaissance Theatre Company, presented Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Look Back in Anger, and other plays that made Branagh famous as an interpreter of Shakespeare’s works. He then directed and starred in several film adaptations of the plays, including Henry V. (1989), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor and Best Director, Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996), which received four Oscar nods, and Love Labour’s Lost (2000), which was badly received and almost ended his career.
During this time he also directed two non-Shakespeare films – Frankenstein (1994) and A Midwinter’s Tale (1995). Branagh, a celebrated stage presence, decided to enter the world of commercial success of blockbusters as an actor and director. He joined Marvel Comics as the director behind Thor (2011), where he expressed his dramatic sensibility in a legendary cosmic adventure that generated $449 million worldwide.
Kenneth Branagh once again worked his magic in the live-action interpretation of Cinderella, an adaptation that grossed over $542 million at the box office.
7 Interesting Things To Know About The British Actor
1. He is the first man to be nominated for five different categories in the history of Academy Awards – Best Director and Best Leading Actor for his work in “Henry V”, Best Adapted Screenplay for “Hamlet”, Best Live-Action Short for “Swan Song” and Best Supporting Actor for “My Week with Marilyn”. He is also one of only two non-American actors nominated for the Academy Awards for Acting, Directing and Screenplay, the other being Roberto Benigni.
2. Branagh is the youngest actor to play the lead role in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” in the history of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was only 23 years old at the time.
3. Throughout his life he has received several awards for his theatrical achievements, including the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer 1983, the London Critics Circle Theatre Award 1988, the Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts 2000 (the youngest actor ever to receive it), the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor 2004 and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the RomaFictionFest on July 10, 2009.
4. He is one of only 13 actors in the history of Oscars to receive an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a real-life king, and the last actor to be nominated for his role in a Shakespearean film.
5.Branagh’s 2008 film Valkyrie brought in $200 million worldwide, making it the fifth highest-grossing World War II film of all time.
6. Othello (1995) is the only Shakespeare adaptation in which Branagh played the leading role but did not direct it himself. The director was Oliver Parker.
7. His role as Berowne in “Love’s Labour Lost” was premiered in late 1500 by the legendary writer Williams Shakespeare himself.