Kenneth Branagh is a British actor and director born on 10 December 1960 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After starting in the theater, he began directing and adapting Shakespearean plays for cinema. He plays in many of his productions. As an actor, he is best known for his roles in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2000), Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017).
Kenneth Branagh and his first steps in theatre
Kenneth Branagh, whose real name is Kenneth Charles Branagh, was born in 1960 in Northern Ireland where he spent his childhood until the age of 9. His family then moved to the city of Reading in England, an hour from London.
It was after seeing Derek Jacobi playing Hamlet on television that he decided to become an actor. Consequently, upon finishing secondary school, he began studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and graduated in 1982.
He began his acting career and starred in London in the comedy Another Country, for which he earned the Society of West Award for Best Newcomer in West End Theaters. Shortly thereafter, his performance in the play Henry V with the famous theater company Royal Shakespeare Company struck so much that Branagh became one of the hopes of the British stage. In 1987 he left the Royal Shakespeare Company and created his own theater company, the Renaissance Theater Company, with one of his friends, actor David Parfitt.
After the failure of his first play, Public Enemy, Kenneth Branagh made a name for himself in the profession directing and starring in Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet.
It was as a director that Kenneth Branagh got his start in the world of cinema. In 1989 he directed Henry V, in which he played the lead role. The film convinced audiences and film critics alike, and Kenneth Branagh became one of the youngest directors to be nominated for an Oscar.
Two years later he released his second film, Dead Again (1991), in which the director is also an actor. This film is also a great success.
After the moderate success of his third film, Swan Song (1992), Branagh once again conquered audiences and critics with the comedy Peter’s Friends (1992) and the film adaptation of the play Much Ado About Nothing (1993). After this first period of success, his next two films, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) and In the Middle of a Frosty Winter (1995), did not meet the same enthusiasm.
In 1995, Kenneth Branagh played Iago in Olivier Parker’s Othello. At the same time, the director embarked on the ambitious project of bringing the famous Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet to the screen. For this project he is a screenwriter, actor and director. The film Hamlet was released in 1996. It was critically acclaimed, but achieved little commercial success.
For four years, Kenneth Branagh stopped his directing work and devoted himself to his acting profession. In 1998 he appeared in five films, including Robert Altman’s The Gingerbread Man and Woody Allen’s Celebrity. In 1999, he starred in the film inspired by the television series The Mysteries of the West, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Wild Wild West opposite Will Smith and Salma Hayek.
Film of the years 2000
In 2000, Kenneth Branagh resumed directing by adapting Shakespeare’s play Lost Love’s Pain in which he played one of the leading roles. Then, in 2002, he starred in director Phillip Noyce’s The Stolen Generation, then played Gilderoy Lockhart, a Hogwarts teacher, in the second chapter of the Harry Potter saga.
In the early 2000s, Kenneth no longer acted in the films he directed, but continued his career as a director and actor in parallel. He has directed several films that have not met with great success: As You Like It (2006), The Magic Flute (2006), Sleuth (2007).
In 2011, Kenneth Branagh had success as a director with the film of the Marvel Universe, Thor (2011). As an actor, he starred in Richard Curtis’ Walkyrie (2008), Good Morning England (2009) and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017), where he portrayed Commander Bolton.
2015 sees him direct the film version of Disney’s Cinderella. In 2017 he brought to the screen the film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous novel, Murder on the Orient-Express, where he played Hercule Poirot. The following year he directed and performed the role of Shakespeare in the Shakespeare House.
In 2020 he is still an actor for Christopher Nolan in Tenet and he will also be an actor in the highly anticipated Oppenheimer of 2023. In 2021 he is the director of the film Belfast, the city where he was born.
This year, however, he is the actor and director of Murder on the Nile, which also has a cool version of Depeche Mode’s Policy of Truth.
On 28 September 2022 in the UK (30 September Italy on Sky) This is England was released, a TV series that traces the months in which Boris Johnson is elected prime minister and the Covid-19 pandemic breaks out.
Prizes, awards and private life of Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh received the Queer Lion Award for his film The Bloodhound at the Venice Film Festival in 2007. In 2011 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Independent Film Awards. The following year he was made a Knight of the Order of the British Empire for theatrical services by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 2017 he received the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Inspector Wallander in the television series The Investigations of Inspector Wallander at the International Emmy Awards.
As for his private life, Kenneth married actress Emma Thompson in 1989. They separated in 1995 after six years of marriage. Meanwhile, he is dating Helena Bonham-Carter. Their relationship remains secret for years before lovers publicly acknowledge it. Since 2003 he has been married to Lindsay Brunnock.
Kenneth Branagh is a big name in British cinema, recognized for his film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work and for his role as the quintessential Shakespearean actor, for which he has often been compared to Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles. But he is also much more than that because his name and his skills have led him to cross numerous boundaries.