Branagh, DiCaprio 'Celebrity' Chums
USA Today, November 20, 1998
by Jeannie Williams
Kenneth Branagh gets in bed with
Leonardo DiCaprio, and on one with Melanie Griffith in Celebrity,
opening Friday. Branagh, as a startlingly Woody Allen-ish writer,
and an out-of-control star played by DiCaprio get their kicks
with separate groupies in the same bed in Allen's latest offering.
Branagh's writer also gets closer to Griffith, playing a top
actress, than any real writer could dream of.
Celebrity is about "manufacturing
fame, which is what I do every day," says publicist Peggy
Siegal, who really should have been in it, but ran a recent benefit
Neither Branagh nor DiCaprio
had to have fame manufactured. Branagh, 37, a top British actor
who was a boy wonder himself, gives Leo high marks for handling
"For a man so thrust into
the limelight, I find nothing of the craft of acting diminished
with him. . . . He has wisdom about his situation, a very old
head on his shoulders. He had a significant career before this,
and that's kept him sane. There's no sign (the fuss) has swelled
his head in the wrong way, and he retains a sense of humor about
Branagh's own fame is at a more
comfortable level. "I still have, for my money, a delicious
amount of anonymity."
He's respected by other actors,
and has a loyal fan base, his mailbag tells him.
He has endured media probing
of his personal life, notably about his breakup with wife Emma
Thompson and current romance with Helena Bonham Carter. Unlike
some actors, the verbally agile Branagh has realized, "It's
possible to be civil with people and not give away your entire
interior life. I can understand the curiosity, but you don't
have to comply . . . I've said (to press), I wouldn't ask you
Branagh's Celebrity character
is clearly a takeoff on the neurotic Allen. "I was shocked
myself when I saw it," he says of the twitchily talkative
striver who betrays and is betrayed by one woman after another.
It's the last thing people would expect from Branagh, who does
a fine American accent.
But he swears, "It was not
in any way conscious. Woody and I didn't talk about the character.
. . . I avoided wearing glasses or other things like Woody, but
it came out the way it did. I have too much respect for him to
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