Kenneth Branagh Gingerly Plugs "The Gingerbread Man"
Hollywood Online, January 1998
With a new movie in the theaters,
Britain's Kenneth Branagh has been out on the publicity trail.
Best known as today's greatest champion of William Shakespeare,
Branagh is nonetheless proud of "The Gingerbread Man,"
a contemporary film noir directed by Robert Altman, and he understands
that his work on the picture includes selling it at the crucial
time of release. That means sitting for interviews with literally
hundreds of entertainment reporters, which will filter their
way into virtually every home in America.
You are now reading one outgrowth
of Branagh's push behind "The Gingerbread Man," but
the single most crucial one was probably his chat with David
Letterman on "The Late Show." "Hysterical and
cold" is Branagh's terse summation of the experience.
"It's hard not to feel the
pressure," he reports. "Everybody wants it to be funny.
If you're an actor, it's just a bit easier if you've got a script.
So you're very much hoping that your anecdote muscles are twitching
in the right places. Being good on it really depends on your
state of mind. You just hope that you're sufficiently at ease
to be yourself. Obviously, it's heightened by the hysterical
atmosphere of the crowd, which gets under the skin a little bit.
Anyway, it's always lovely when you've done it."
Whether he makes his big appearance
with Letterman or arch-rival Jay Leno isn't Branagh's call. He
just goes where the studio which has paid him so many millions
of dollars to make a movie tells him to go. And unlike many stars,
he doesn't really mind, except for a wee bit of performance anxiety.
Even when his marriage to Academy Award winner Emma Thompson
was breaking apart in public, Branagh sucked it up and did his
"I've always genuinely believed
that it's important to communicate your enthusiasm for what you
do," he explains. "That's an honorable tradition, from
people jumping on the back of carts and delivering handbills
on village greens. It just seems more important nowadays, with
advertising costs being so expensive. You need to be out there,
given the glut of films coming out, just to wave your little
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