Kenneth Branagh At BAFTA: A Life In Pictures

Features

An evening in discussion with the celebrated actor and director.

Posted 24th November 2011, 2:46pm in Film
Following last week's BAFTA talk with Charlize Theron, Saturday 19th November presented the actor she described as "lovely, perfection, humble, fun".

Kenneth Branagh is soon to appear in UK cinemas in the role he was born to play, that of Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn. First, he graced the intimate theatre at BAFTA's London headquarters to talk about his career.

In fact, he began by remarking how "ludicrous" it was to believe he could have a film career, with the division between theatre and film. Of course, Branagh was hugely ambitious in combining his love for both, with his many film adaptations of Shakespeare's works, including Hamlet, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It.

Following Theron's discussion about Woody Allen's Celebrity the previous week, Branagh revealed the advice he got from the writer and director via letter, which read: "Lee Simon is essentially a loser but is attractive to women. Therefore no facial hair".

Speaking about his vital TV work, the actor was frank as he revealed how Nazi war drama Conspiracy affected him. Playing SS General Reinhard Heydrich, who helped orchestrate the "Final Solution", Branagh admitted he lost sleep while playing the role, adding, "I found it a disturbing part to play, very unsettling in my day to day life."

Obviously the role of Wallander has been a significant part of Branagh's career, with the crime series introducing him to the promise of his future Thor star Tom Hiddleston. He admitted to reading Henning Mankell's source novels over three months, before desiring the role of police inspector Kurt Wallander. He spoke about the BBC drama's cinematic style, arguing there was no style bible that should dictate how a procedural drama should look. Laughing as he compared Wallander to other famous fictional detectives, he joked that he only shared misery with the likes of Columbo.

Having dipped his toes in the waters of fantasy with Frankenstein, Branagh achieved huge critical and box office success with this year's Thor, remaining behind the camera for the Marvel adaptation. He revealed what an inspiration Anthony Hopkins was to young stars Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, remarking that the pair "squared up" to him. The mystical world of Norse gods can be compared to Mozart's The Magic Flute, he admitted.

With My Week With Marilyn hitting cinemas this week, Branagh told of his joy at being able to physically transform into his hero Olivier, before tackling a dreadful Marilyn Monroe-obsessed heckler with dignity and shaming her into admitting she hadn't even seen the film. After revealing his plans to write more, the evening came to a close on a better note.

Another successful evening in the A Life In Pictures strand at BAFTA, with the chance for a relaxed, sophisticated evening of discussion with celebrated actors. BAFTA continue with Sir Ben Kingsley on 26th November - head to www.bafta.org for public tickets, at only £15 a head.

Bonus! Branagh attended the UK premiere of My Week With Marilyn the following evening - watch Filmbeat's coverage below.

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