Monstrous Talent: Baron Branagh Hopes To Stop Critics
Daily Mirror, October 27 1994
by Samantha Norman
There are times when Kenneth
Branagh feels almost as reviled as the monster in his pounds-30
million epic Frankenstein.
For reasons known only to themselves,
a large number of people in and out the movie industry are irritated
by Branagh's achievements.
"They seem to believe I
get up in the morning and think: 'I know - today I'll make a
movie that will really annoy them'," says the star and director
of Henry V and Peter's Friends.
"Occasionally I wonder what
I have done - I mean, I haven't killed anybody, have I?'
The knockers had better be prepared
to be irritated again.
Frankenstein, starring Branagh
as the Baron and Robert De Niro as the creature, opens on November
4 and - dare I say it - may yet turn to be a monster hit.
Honour But even if Branagh's
critics come chasing him again with burning torches held aloft,
he won't be too concerned.
He had the singular honour of
being picked by movie godfather and Franenstein producer Francis
Ford Coppola to direct this latest version of Mary Shelley's
And he surprised himself by winning
the friendship and complete support of the imposing De Niro.
"In the early days I found
myself sitting in a New York cab with the Godfather on one side
and Raging Bull on the other," says Branagh. "I was
flattered, of course, but I kept saying to myself 'This is not
De Niro, not one to appreciate
the luvvy side of acting, was at first suspicious.
"I think he expected me
to leap into the room in a ruffled shirt and tights," laughs
"He thought I might be riding
the old worthy ticket and be a bit pretentious, so it was a question
of obtaining his trust."
De Niro also checked out Kenneth
"He saw all the films I'd
been in and then watched all the telly stuff. He liked Henry
V very much and Peter's Friends. I was particularly pleased that
he congratulated me on a specific scene in the film for which
I'd received some vicious reviews.
"The curious thing was that
he only really started to trust me when he found out that I was
Irish. Somehow he felt more comfortable."
Branagh, married to Oscar-winner
Emma Thompson, says the atmosphere on set was wonderful - thanks
largely to the usually solemn De Niro.
He turned out to to be a great
giggler and remarkably helpful to a cast who might have been
intimidated. This included Helena Bonham Carter as the Baron's
love interest Elizabeth and John Cleese as his tutor.
Branagh says: "There was
one scene where John was obviously nervous and also feeling a
bit unwell that day. "Actually Robert had no need to be
there because we were shooting John's part only, but he stayed
and shouted his lines from off-stage with even more energy than
usual to get a good performance out of John."
Kenneth now hopes this dark,
interesting brew will finally soothe his critics. If not, he
can always set the monster on them...
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