The Shakespeare Superstar Returns
Mail on Sunday (London), January
by Steve Clark
Kenneth Branagh is leaving Hollywood
to make two new films in Britain.
The 31-year-old superstar felt
homesick there - despite the success of his films Henry V and
Dead Again - and missed his friends.
He said yesterday: 'I spent a
year in Hollywood, enjoyed it enormously and was utterly thrilled
the whole time - it was like being in a fairytale.
'I don't want to sound remotely
sniffy about it as I had a great time. But it's not home and
I missed my friends and I missed connections.'
The filming of the first of Branagh's
two new films, Peter's Friends, will begin in London shortly.
It is scheduled for cinema release late this year or early next.
Branagh, whose first feature
film of Shakespeare's epic Henry V was voted Best Film Of The
Year in 1989 by the Evening Standard Film Awards, described his
new movie as 'a touching comedy about friendship.
'It is set in modern Britain
and is very much a contemporary piece. It features mainly British
actors and will be shot around London.'
The cast of the movie, produced
by Branagh's own company Renaissance Films, reads like a Who's
Who of British comedy and includes his wife Emma Thompson, Stephen
Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery, Imelda Staunton and Phyllida
Branagh directs and stars in
Peter's Friend, which also features comedienne Rita Rudner, who
wrote the screenplay.
He plays a character called Andrew,
who goes to America to seek his fortune and marries an American
played by Rudner.
In the summer he is set to direct
and star in a second Shakespeare picture, Much Ado About Nothing,
with Richard Briers.
Branagh said: 'The two films
this year will be Renaissance films and both British films so
everything is going great guns.'
Back in Britain he has taken
on a massive workload. As well as filming, he will star in a
new Radio Three production of Hamlet in April. And he will play
Hamlet again for the Royal Shakespeare Company in December.
In May, he will take the title
role of Shakespeare's Coriolanus at the Chichester Festival Theatre,
alongside regulars from his Renaissance Theatre Company including
Dame Judi Dench and Richard Briers.
'Hollywood allows you to see
where you've come from,' he adds. 'But it's as simple as this:
I'm very excited about projects in England, and I was less excited
about being asked to live in America and do some other things.'
He has not ruled out returning
to America. 'I would go back at the appropriate time for the
appropriate project,' he said.
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