Random stuff you should know about the deity that is Ken Branagh...
Random stuff was written by our Ngoc in December 1997 (within the same two hours it took this dervish to put up the entire KB site and write all the texts :-) ). A few updates have been added in black font, and there may be the addition of other random facts in the future.... in the meantime, enjoy these Ken-bits as only Her Ngocness could have written them (and apologies for the more colourless - but well-meaning :-) - updates).
Q: I've heard his name pronounced ten different ways. What's
the correct pronunciation?
A: BRAN-na. Rhymes with the American pronunciation of Anna,
Savannah and banana. In his native Belfast, and also in Scotland,
they add a sound at the end similar to one made when clearing
your throat violently. But don't worry about that.
Q: What was the official reason given by Ken and Emma Thompson
for separating in 1995?
A: "Our work has inevitably led to our spending long periods
of time away from each other and, as a result, we have drifted
Q: Okay, what's the dish on the real reason they
A: Well, their work probably led to them spending lotsa time
away from each other, and as a result they drifted apart.
Q: So is he going out with anybody now?
A: Yep. The lucky lady is Helena Bonham Carter, and you can
do a thorough background check on her at the excellent HBC
Homepage. But Ken hates discussing his private life, so let's
Yeah well... Ken and Helena have parted ways, except for 'remaining friends' and no one has as yet ferreted out info on a new "we're just friends - yeah, right" person. There are times when discretion is so boring.... :-) But Ken hates discussing his private life, so let's move on...
Oh, but not before adding that there was a certain Lindsay Brunnock who captured his heart for a good while. However, at this moment it again looks like 'twas not to be. Boring discretion promises another dry spell in this kind of news. :-)
Wooo hoooo! The update here is that after a bit of time apart, during which they obviously missed each other, Kenneth and Lindsay tied the knot! In keeping with that boring discretion thing the wedding was held in secret...but you can read an article (the acuracy of which I cannot vouch for) here and see the single available photo of Lindsay here. (We really should see more of such a pretty face...)
Q: Okay, sorry 'bout that. I remember there was a lot of
hype for the big-budget Mary Shelley's Frankenstein--did
that tank as badly as everybody said it did?
A: The $44 million Frankenstein, released in November
1994, grossed over $100 million worldwide, but factoring in the
money spent on marketing, the general critical response, and the
level of commercial expectation preceding the film's release--yeah,
it can legitimately be categorized as a major flop.
Got no facts or figures (bet they're on the Internet somewhere, though) but it appears that in the longer run (continuing video rentals, etc.) Frankenstein has made enough money to hold its head up, at least in the money department. The critical response thing is, as they say, subjective.
(*I* liked it.)
Q: I live in the UK, and the press never seems to have a
nice word to say about Ken. Why is that?
A: Branagh-bashing became all the rage in Britain shortly following
the theatrical release of his brilliantly astonishing, astonishingly
brilliant directorial debut Henry V in 1989. Hailed as
the new Olivier, saviour of the lethargic British Film Industry
and precocious genius at age 28, the British press quickly tired
of the superlatives they heaped on young Ken and continued their
long-established tradition of "build 'em up and knock 'em
down." So the Branagh backlash followed...and continued after
a string of successes (peaking in 1993/4 with the phenomenon known
as "Ken and Em"). Ken's willingness to promote his projects
and his all-around "niceness" gave rise to accusations
of megalomania and blandness [Interesting combination :-) ]. The Branagh-bashing seems to have
lightened up a bit, though its presence will undoubtedly have
an effect on anything that is written about him in the UK. But,
as Ken often says, "you just have to get on with it."
Read this to understand how cool Ken is. (And, for a laugh - if you don't mind a bit of colourful language, read this to learn what Kenneth thinks of the expression "cool". :-) ) (Luckily he has not made any pronouncements on 'smiley faces').
Q: I know the Academy tends to smoke crack occasionally
(ok, more than occasionally) -- is that the reason Ken's never
won an Oscar?
A: It's a popular belief that--for whatever reasons--the Academy
isn't too fond of him. Maybe they still haven't forgiven him for
the debacle that was Frankenstein. Maybe their attention
spans couldn't handle Hamlet. Maybe they feel he's gotten
enough awards and recognition already. Or maybe--and this is my
opinion--they wouldn't know genius if it whacked them over the
head with an oversized canoe paddle.
I vote for short attention span, inability to recognise genius (or sometimes even talent, at that), and general cultural cluelessness. In any case, the Oscars have come to represent a very specific type of recognition, limited to a very narrow cultural view, which no one in their right mind would qualify as the be-all and end-all prize to receive. Eeerk, but enough of that! The ceremony is fun and there is no denying the "éclat" Ken contributes when he gets to do something like introduce the 'Shakespeare in film' review in 1999 - really cool outfit he had on, too.
Q: I was especially upset by the snubbing of Hamlet.
A: Yeah, me too...hey--that wasn't a question!
Q: Sorry. Where was I?
A: You were asking about the Oscars.
Q: Right. Ok, so what's he been nominated for?
A: Best Actor and Best Director (Henry V, 1989)
Best Short Film (Swan Song, 1993)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Hamlet, 1996)
Q: The four nominations in four different categories certainly
give testament to his versatility. Is that why you like him so
A: That's part of the reason. But it's not just his astonishing
talent that blows me away--his personality is another thing that
separates him from other would-be objects of my obsession. Intelligent,
charismatic and witty, he also projects a "nice guy"
persona that friends, colleagues and reporters--grudgingly--attest
to. Passionate about his work, willing to take risks, and armed
with a work ethic and determination to carry out seemingly impossible
projects, he has single-handedly opened the door to Shakespeare
for a whole new generation. The fact that he's rather yummy doesn't
hurt either. ;) His chameleon-like looks shift from chubby-bunny
cuteness (Peter's Friends) to suave handsomeness (Roman
in Dead Again) to adorable geekiness (The Fortunes of
War) to hot-blooded--and hot-bodied--sexiness (Frankenstein)
to dashing Dane-ness (Hamlet).
And don't forget divinely disheveled and ravishingly rumpled (this is a guy who *really* looks great in a hole-y sweater) in Theory of Flight. Oh, and the rerun of suave handsomeness in Love's Labour's Lost.
Q: I'd love to discuss Ken with fellow fans--what's the
best forum in which to do that?
A: Join the Kenneth Branagh mailing list. Tons of fun, and the place for the latest KB news.
Q: Are you going to add anything else to this pathetic site?
A: Hopefully some interviews and articles and other random
pointless stuff, depending on how much I decide to slack off at
school... *written December 1997
As you can see from the size of the site Ngoc added A LOT of relevant stuff (random and pointless is a bit lacking except for my additions on this page :-) ). And she didn't slack off at school, but graduated with some average so high they had trouble calculating it (at Berekely, even) and has gone on to carry the Silicon Valley miracle forward (though one suspects a certain medieval component to the working hours).