News Archive: January 2009 - June 2009

Hi all! So I noticed that I dated the last update 37 May (since corrected, chortle) - obviously not entirely responsible for my actions. Thank goodness things have slowed down a wee bit in Ken-land, but here are the latest bits...

Guess who's getting another award! Yeppers.... here you go, from the Hollywood Reporter, 12 June 2009:

Rome Fest to honor Kenneth Branagh
Actor-director to Receive RomaFictionFest's Lifetime Award
By Eric J. Lyman

Rome -- The RomaFictionFest said Friday that it will give its lifetime achievement prize to Kenneth Branagh, the four-time Oscar-nominated actor-director.

Branagh, who is also known for his stage work, screenwriting and work on the small screen, will be at the July 6-11 festival with the BBC series "Wallander," in which he plays the title role. Three new episodes of the program with air on July 10, and Branagh will be presented with the achievement honor later that evening.

The three-year-old RomaFictionFest is the Italian capital's international festival focusing on television fiction.

You can see the blurb on the festival's official site here.

So, being as I'm in catch-up mode, you can read a slew of Wallander reviews, from North America, from early May: one, two, three, four, five, six (in which the journalist had added 5 years added to KB's age, I suppose he just looked at Wallander and guessed), seven, and eight. I read 'em all. Listed, for easy viewing, on the Wallander page.

And, although it will still be a wait, there is good news on the Wallander front. From This Is London, 8 May 2009, by David Sexton:

Kenneth's Grumpy Triumph

Marvellous news. Three more Henning Mankell novels about the grumpy Swedish detective, Kurt Wallander, are being filmed for the BBC, by the same team, with Kenneth Branagh in the title role.

I had never taken to Branagh in the past, not in his earnest Renaissance Theatre Shakespeare productions. He was always a slightly embarrassing male lead, an actor I took care to avoid.

But then he was cast as the graceless, porky, diabetic, bad-tempered, always tired, usually hungover churl Wallander, moping around southern Sweden, struggling dimly with his cases — and bingo! Branagh had found the role he was born for — deservedly, the series won him a Bafta — and, oh joy, we had found, when it seemed beyond all hope, a wholly satisfactory replacement for Inspector Morse, for years to come.

And further to catching up, there is one older Thor article here, and new ones: one, two and three. Also listed, for easy viewing, on the Thor page.

Random notes:

The voice and acting coach Barbara Houseman has written another guide for actors, this one entitled Tackling Text. Daniel Radcliffe wrote the foreword and Kenneth wrote the following preface:

If you want to improve as an actor, read this book. Do what it tells you. Simple as that. I have worked as an actor for twenty-seven years and here are some observations.

Actors need to stay sharp. When working or not working. Inside or outside the rehearsal room. On stage, screen, on radio, and especially when unemployed.

Thankfully, we now have the help of this book. It articulates the advice I was given many years ago by a wise old actor, and which I have happily passed on ever since. When in trouble with a role, or, more fundamentally, with the very process of acting, go back to the text - or find a text - and look at it anew. The way to refresh your imagination will be in the text and in the way you tackle it.

Easier said than done? Not any more. You have a friend in these pages.

I have worked with Barbara Houseman and know that her techniques and suggestions all come from long-term practical experience at the highest level. They will show you how to release your imagination, and make genuine improvements. The book also heads off that sometimes fierce and deeply unhelpful inner critic which can sabotage the best efforts. You can say farewell to that kind of useless negativity, particularly at auditions and castings, where the advice set down here should have a remarkable effect.

Best of all, this book helps restore the hard work of the actor as fresh, playful and fun, and puts the ownership of that process firmly in the best hands - the artists themselves. I consult it frequently myself and happily recommend it to you. Have fun!

Kenneth Branagh

In turn Barbara Houseman wrote this about Daniel and Kenneth in her acknowledgements:
Daniel Radcliffe and Kenneth Branagh both took the time out of their busy schedules to write the Foreword and Preface. I am grateful for their generosity in doing so. I have found them both, in their own ways, a great inspiration to work with.
One last note: The screening of As You Like It organised by Shakespeare by the Sea on 8 July 2009, will be introduced by David Oyelowo, rather than Alfred Molina (who found himself with an extended acting commitment). You can read abut the event here.

That's it for today. Hope to get it together with new photos soon...
(24 June, thanks Patricia Q., Jude)

So, 2-Be or not 2Be-ans, as you will have noticed (if you bothered to come back) I have lost the plot once again... but here is a quickie, just to let you know I'm alive and full of good intentions.

Thor news! The good thing about being behind the times is that you can trace what happened with 20/20 hindsight... so here are a series of articles leading up the "not as yet really officially announced but everyone is repeating it" news that Thor has been cast... starting a rumourthe red herringstalling;  and partial(?) confirmation. Stay tuned for more... (and check out the lovely Loki and Thor guys).

And to round things out... another nice interview.

There is a lot more, which I hope to get to soon - thanks for hanging in!
(27 May, thanks Zoe, Jude)

Hi guys, just a real quick quickie: there is a nice new Q&A with Kenneth which you can read here, and you can see photos from last night's event here.

There will be more soon!
(7 May, thanks Renie, Patricia)

Back with a snip - the updates are going to be piecemeal, alas (but they will happen, which I hope is something....)

You can read a really interesting interview with Kenneth, regarding Wallander, and more, here.

There is a follow-up to the Paley Center event in Los Angeles, this time in New York:

Premiere Screening and Discussion
Kenneth Branagh as Inspector Kurt Wallander

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
New York

In Person

Kenneth Branagh
Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer, MASTERPIECE
Moderator: Lisa Schwarzbaum, Film Critic, Entertainment Weekly

Presented in association with BAFTA East Coast

Join celebrated British actor Kenneth Branagh—a four-time Oscar nominee—for a premiere screening of one of three upcoming installments of Wallander, a new Masterpiece Mystery! series based on the popular crime novels by Swedish author Henning Mankell. Branagh, who limns the juicy role of tortured sleuth Kurt Wallander, and Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton will discuss the screening and answer audience questions.

Rebecca Eaton is a 2007 She Made It honoree. Go to for information about this Paley Center initiative.

Unfortunately the event is sold out, though they are selling tickets at a reduced price for a closed circuit viewing room.   But don't forget that the next day, Thursday 7 May, you can attend "A Conversation with Kenneth Branagh" at the Times Center, 242 West 41st Street, New York City.

In other catching-up stuff, you can see a gallery of photos from the British Academy Television Awards 2009 here.

That's it for today, but I'll be back...
(4 May, thanks Roman, Karen, Paula)

Keen Kenners, we're back. I wasn't able to put this up before the event, but here is the blurb about an evening that took place this week, from, 28 April:

And Anglophile Sensors Go Off Across Los Angeles
Thespian extraordinaire Kenneth Branagh chats at the Paley Center on Wednesday, April 29
By Alysia Gray Painter

Sometimes, when headlines are bad or scary or intense, we retreat to a sort of "Harry Potter"-esque world in our own minds, where we can cast spells and make difficult things go away in a poof of green smoke. And then we return to reality and attempt to do what we can about what is in our control and not sweat the rest. You do this too, right?

And in that "Harry Potter"-y world, Kenneth Branagh usually has a role. Maybe it is because he's starred in the real "Harry Potter" films, and every other lofty, important British series/movie of the last 15 years. Not to mention "Dead Again," which is one of our favorite Los Angeles movies, and we do adore that it is mostly populated by British people. Including the cosmically gifted Emma Thompson, a lady we'd take out for a stiff drink and a laugh any day of the week.

Mr. Branagh is back in his "Dead Again" town, not only being British, and suave, and Kenneth Branagh-y, but representing his new Masterpiece Theatre series. He'll be at the Paley Center, along with "Masterpiece Theatre" honcho Rebecca Eaton, on Wednesday, April 29, to chitchat about "Wallander," his new whodunit. Anglophiles of SoCal, you're pretty damn chuffed, right? Thought so. $25 general. Paley Center for Media, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills.

For those who couldn't make it, though, we have a wonderful eyewitness account, and a couple of visuals.

You can see a few more photos here from the Television Academy Awards which were held the next evening.

There is quite a lot more, including a great new article/interview (yeesh, we're back to the old days of barely keeping up - ha! not keeping up at all, really, with Himself... not complaining though!), but once again it is getting late (I need to start at 6 am!), so I will be back soon with the rest (or part of it, at least).
(3 May, thanks Renie, Jude, Colleen)

Wooo hooo!! Guess what won the Best Drama Series award at the television Baftas? And guess who made the little "I'd like to thank..." speech? Yes, and yes : Wallander and Mr. Branagh! And because we live in this fabulous "instant" age, you can already catch three goodies on Youtube:

You can see the award being announced and Ken's speech here
You can see a pretty girl with the same first name as my daughter interview the Wallander producers team here (KB is getting very practised at being addressed as Sir Kenneth...)
You can see a brief "red carpet" interview with KB here
You can also see a couple of photos: here and here. I will have a couple more tomorrow.

And if that's not enough, you can tune in to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Wednesday 29 April, if you are in the US or get cable (and shortly thereafter online at ABC or on Youtube, I'm sure) and see Kenneth being interviewed. The last time he was on the show there was actually a semblance of real ideas exchanged (as opposed to the frenetic yuk-yuk of most late night shows) but don't hold your breath, though you probably can expect some good quips. Apparently Kenneth will be on The View on 8 May - former appearances have been fun affairs, fawning ladies make for good vibes.

It was BritWeek in Los Angeles; here's a blurb from The Press Association:

Brits Celebrate in Los Angeles

Kenneth Branagh, Anna Friel and Eric Idle have joined fellow stars from the UK to celebrate the best of British in Los Angeles.

As part of the city's BritWeek, the British Consul General Bob Peirce and his wife Sharon hosted a VIP champagne reception at their lavish residence, which was also attended by Office star Lucy Davis and her actor husband Owain Yeoman, fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and TV producer Nigel Lythgoe.

On his way into the bash, Kenneth said: "I'm grateful to be a Brit in Hollywood from time to time and I enjoy it, and I have friends who are here and we have a good time, and it's nice to meet occasionally."

Monty Python star Eric, who is on the BritWeek committee, didn't seem too excited about the prospect of eating British grub at the event. "Err yeah... sausages," he said. "But you know, the champagne will be French, and they're such lovely people, the Consul and his wife".

Nigel said: "BritWeek started off really as an excuse to have some parties and to celebrate the success of Idol and Dancing With The Stars and all the other programmes that sort of came from the UK. "And each year it's got bigger and bigger."

You can see a few photos, including a couple with lovely Lindsay, here.

I've added a bunch of reviews to the Boat That Rocked page. You can see some photos from the UK premiere here. There is a nice video interview with Ken here.

Thor speculation continues... only half of it is up here (coz I really have to go to bed now!), but you can check out article 1 and article 2.

I'll be back soon with the things I didn't get to today!
(26 April, thanks Pennie, Jules, Jude, Laura, Wenda)

Keen Kenians, apologies as usual for being AWOL ('twas ever thus). I actually have some good excuses, but I'll spare you the boredom. Now where were we...?

There is awards news... Kenneth Branagh is up for one... the news from Variety, 24 March 2009:

Branagh Gets BAFTA Producer Nom
Filmmaker Nabs Nod for 'Wallander'

Kenneth Branagh has received his first nomination as a producer and his sixth BAFTA nomination in film and TV for crime saga "Wallander."   The thesp is nominated in the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' TV awards, announced Tuesday, where "Wallander" is competing against "Doctor Who," "Shameless" and "Spooks" (called "MI:5" Stateside) for best drama series.

As ever, the BBC dominates the list with 44 noms, rival pubcaster Channel 4 has 20, while ITV gets nine.

In the international category cult hit "The Wire," soon to bow on BBC2, is up against "Dexter," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "Mad Men," a winner at the recent Royal Television Society program awards.

Controversial chat show star Jonathan Ross, who recently returned to U.K. screens following a ban imposed for lewd remarks made on a radio show, gets the nom in the entertainment performance category.

Awards unspool at London's Royal Festival Hall on April 26.

And he has won another... the news from BBC News, 27 March 2009:
Branagh Wins TV Critics' Honour

Kenneth Branagh has won the prize for best actor at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards (BPG) for his performance in the BBC drama Wallander. The star beat David Tennant and Ben Whishaw for his role as the Swedish detective in the three-part series.

Andrea Riseborough won the best actress award for her roles in Channel 4's The Devil's Whore and the BBC's Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley.

The awards will be presented later at a ceremony at London's Theatre Royal. It is Branagh's first major TV acting award in the UK.

Outstanding achievement

He follows in the footsteps of Sir Alec Guinness, Michael Gambon, Colin Firth, David Suchet and Christopher Ecclestone as previous winners of the BPG best actor award.

BBC programmes dominated the awards, voted for by journalists who write about TV and radio, winning 13 of the 15 prizes. BBC Four's Margaret Thatcher drama also won two other awards for best single drama and the multi-channel award, for the best programme shown on a digital channel. The Devil's Whore was named best drama series. The Apprentice picked up the award for best factual entertainment, while BBC One sitcom Outnumbered won best comedy/entertainment and the writer's award.

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston won best TV performer in a non-acting role and Radio 4's Today Programme host Evan Davis was named radio broadcaster of the year. The Radcliffe & Maconie Show on Radio 2 took the honour of radio programme of the year.

Sir David Frost will receive the Harvey Lee award for outstanding achievement, for his career on and off the screen.

The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and is made up of journalists who specialise in television, radio and the media.

And you can help him win yet another... Wallander is up for for the Phlips Audience Award for the Best Programme of 2008. You the audience can vote (though you can't win a prize if you do not reside in the UK; I think your vote would count anyway, since you might have seen it on DVD or through satellite channels, etc.). Go here to read more and vote. Voting ends on Saturday 25 April and the awards will be announced at the British Academy Television Awards on Sunday 26 April.

I have added a couple of articles (one and two), and two reviews (one and two) to the Magic Flute page.

There are also four new articles relating to The Boat That Rocked: one, two, three, and four.

Blast from the past.... you can read a short item about a favourite poem Kenneth submitted for an anthology in 1992 here.

There are also two other articles which look back a bit: KB as "the Berkshire lad" and KB's best teachers.

Finally, there is a rare chance to see As You Like It on the big screen, if you live in Los Angeles or area. Click here to read about this special screening of the film, introduced by Alfred Molina.

That is it for today, but I will be back soon with some photos.
(13 April, thanks Jude, Catherine, Jane, Renie, Wenda)

Back with a few more little things...

There is an excellent The Boat That Rocked trailer with lots of Ken (feels like it might be all the crucial bits :-)) here at Allo Ciné. The film is called Good Morning England in France.

There are a couple of short new Thor articles, with more casting speculation. Read them here and here.

And that is it for today, but I'll be back with a few more things on the weekend...
(26 March, thanks Isabelle, Jude)

Hi much do I love media on the Internet (I still capitalise 'Internet', remembering that amazing day 20 years ago when a friend gave me a demo of the marvellous world to come), anyway how much? Much, much, much. Because....

  • You can listen to Kenneth talking about The Magic Flute to Evan Solomon (who thinks he's Sir Kenneth, cringe... Jian Gomeshi goes on holiday and the show falls apart) on CBC's Q here (follow the audio link on the right). You can read the related article here.
  • You can listen to Kenneth talking to Chris Alexander of Fangoria about possibly remaking Night of the Demon here. (The Canadians seem to have big dibs on Branagh-time   :-) )
  • You can listen to a wonderful interview with Ken about The Boat That Rocked here. There is also an interview with Richard Curtis.
Needless to say, I am not thrilled that The Magic Flute is playing in Toronto but not in Montréal... especially as I have had such faith that it would eventually turn up in cinemas here that I have resisted watching the dvd. Grumble, grumble.

Now if you prefer your audio to be live, you can listen to a conversation with KB in New York on 7 May 2009:

Times Talks

Thursday, May 7, 2009
6:30pm - 8:00pm

A Conversation with Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh -- actor, director, producer and screenwriter - is renowned for his interpretation of a melancholy Scandinavian - Prince Hamlet. He brings the existential Nordic outlook up to date on Masterpiece Mystery! this month as the gritty Swedish sleuth Kurt Wallander, based on the bestselling thrillers by Henning Mankell. Hear him talk about his work as Wallander, his recent film and theater projext and what's coming next.

Tickets: $30
Address: The Times Center, 242 West 41st Street, New York City The link for ordering tickets:

So this was a little article about the Simpsons episode which was to air (and did so) on 17 March in the UK:

D'OH! Homer is so busy boozing he misses out on our top tourist attraction as the Simpsons rock Ulster tonight.

In a special St Patrick's Day episode, the beer-guzzling dad drags his dysfunctional family to Ireland for the first time. It is also the first time in the show's 20-year history that an episode will make its debut on screens over here before being shown in America. But despite the grand occasion, slob Homer remains true to form and snubs our world-famous Giant's Causeway in favour of his favourite pastime.

In an echo of Dr Johnson's famous comment: "The Giant's Causeway is worth seeing but not worth going to," the planet's favourite couch potato stays in the pub with his father and happily lets his family go without him. Perhaps it's because the Causeway still doesn't have a new visitors' centre or pub to cash in on the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock there every year.

When gravel-voiced Marge arrives in Ulster, she starts by reading out a tourist sign to Bart and Lisa. "The Giant's Causeway is the result of a volcanic eruption," the blue-haired matriarch of the family says. "Well kids isn't that an informational fact? Kids?" But Bart and Lisa are too busy bouncing over the famous hexagonal rocks to listen. Marge shouts: "Come back here!"

But as she runs after them she ends up bouncing up and down with the pair. Their leaps are accompanied by 'boing' sound effects mimicking a computer game. So the Causeway, which drew in over 751,000 visitors last year, escapes the Simpsons' trademark insults against all things Irish.

The whole family make it together to Dublin, Blarney Castle and the Guinness Brewery, encountering special guest stars such as Belfast-born actor Kenneth Branagh. Titled 'In the Name of the Grandfather', the new episode features Homer and Grampa Simpson getting so drunk they end up buying - and destroying -O'Flanagan's bar in the village of Dunkilderry.

Simpsons producers James L Brooks, Al Jean and Nancy 'voice of Bart' Cartwright will be taking part in the St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin on a Simpson's float.

The landmark episode airs at 7.30pm on Sky1 and Sky 1 HD.

Alas, the episode aired without guest star Branagh, because, although he did record the part, he was not available for re-recording due to Ivanov and so had to be replaced. But apparently he will grace The Simpsons at some point in the future!

That's it for today!
(23 March, thanks Jude, Pierpaolo)

Greetings Kenians... some bits and bobs for you.

There are three new The Boat That Rocked trailers: one is here. Another, a bit different and a "worldwide exclusive clip", can be found on the Independent website here. You will find the third one here.

There is a lovely long interview about The Boat That Rocked with Richard Curtis here.

You can see a few photos of Kenneth as the party-pooper official here. Not his hottest look ever (giggle)... sort of takes me back to high school. I do have some nice memories of my cousin and I listening to very crackly, fading in and out broadcasts from Radio Caroline on my grandfather's big table radio - in Bavaria! - on summer visits back when I was a wee slip of a thing (though old enough to know I needed to hear this stuff  :-) ).

News of another possible award for Kenneth's turn as Wallander... excerpts from a longer article which you can read here:

Shortlist for 35th BPG Television and Radio Awards
February 26, 2009
By Torin Douglas

Kenneth Branagh, David Tennant and Ben Whishaw have been shortlisted for the Best Actor award in the 35th annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, to be presented next month at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Branagh has been nominated for his role as Kurt Wallander, the Swedish detective in the Wallander series. Tennant is named for two roles, as the Doctor in Doctor Who and the British astronomer Arthur Eddington in the single drama Einstein and Eddington. Ben Whishaw is nominated for playing Ben Coulter in the five-part series Criminal Justice.

The highly-prized BPG awards are selected by journalists who write about TV and radio - correspondents, critics and previewers. Previous Best Actor winners include Sir Alec Guinness, Albert Finney, Charles Dance, Robert Hardy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Eccleston, Philip Glenister and Colin Firth (see for more details.)

The drama series shortlist is dominated by BBC One, which has Criminal Justice, Little Dorrit and Wallander competing with Channel 4’s The Devil’s Whore. The Broadcasting Press Guild was founded in 1974 and has more than a hundred members - all journalists who specialise in writing and broadcasting about television, radio and the media in general. They include media correspondents, reviewers, previewers and feature writers from national newspapers, broadcasters and leading trade journals and websites. Details of previous BPG Awards winners can be found at

Staying with Wallander, you can see a fantastic interview with Kenneth, in English, on a Swedish site. For a real treat (can this man talk!) go here.

Looking back to Ivanov... there are four wonderful new mini-videos about the production at the Donmar West site, here.

And looking forward to Thor, there are rumours, maybe turning into facts, about casting. (Skarsgard père and son in a Branagh film... be still my beating heart!)  Click here to read article 1 and article 2. There is also word that the release of Thor has been postponed to June 2011. Click here to read about it.

Here's a snippet from a the blog:

The Rarerest Hyphenated Breed in Hollywood: The 'Writer-Director-Actor'

"In Hollywood, it's not unusual to find hyphenates wearing multiple hats: An actor who directs; awriter who acts; or a director who writes. Those who multitask can be massively rewarded, critically and financially, for taking on more than one role. But there are a rare few who can fill all three -- and not just fill them, but hit a home run in all three roles, any time. These are the Triple Threats:

Kenneth Branagh
Though he may owe a little bit to a Single Threat by the name of William Shakespeare, Branagh is possibly the most successful classically trained Triple Threat since Laurence Olivier. Rocketing to fame by writing, directing and starring in the pitch perfect adaptation ofHenry V (1989), he continued with the box office hit Much Ado About Nothing (1993), and the slightly less successful Hamlet (1996) andLove's Labours Lost (2000). With upcoming gigs directing Marvel Comics' Thor (2010), and starring in The Boat That Rocked (2009), Branagh seems to have put his favorite collaborator aside for the moment... but we know he'll return to Stratford-upon-Avon before too long."

The other Triple Threats listed are Woody Allen, George Clooney, Christopher Guest, Jon Favreau, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, Kevin Smith, Sylvester Stallone, and Ben Stiller.

Random notes:

Valkyrie will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc 19 May 2009 (prebook April 22) from MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It will be available in three configurations: a bare-bones single-disc edition at $29.98; a $34.98 two-DVD set including two commentaries, two featurettes and a digital copy; and a Blu-ray version with all the special-edition DVD material plus five more featurettes.

The release date for the region 2 dvd of 10 Days to War is September 2009.

You can hear Tom Cruise say a few nice things about Ken 7 minutes into the video of the Italian Valkyrie press conference, here.

More soon!
(14 March, thanks Jude, Lyn, Patricia, Isabel, Renie, Pierpaolo)

Moi, again! (Don't get used to it, hahahaha!).  A couple of quick things...

There is a new, somewhat longer trailer for The Boat That Rocked and you can see it here. You can also see the trailer, introduced "colourfully" (a.k.a. expletive warning) by Nick Frost, on Youtube, here.

Meanwhile, maybe your boyfriend or cousin or neighbour is the Thor they're looking for... from, 19 February 2009:

Thor: The Early Years
Casting notice reveals Marvel wants a younger god of thunder
by Jim Vejvoda

An apparent casting notice for Marvel's Thor movie has appeared online, which suggests that the filmmakers envision the Norse god of thunder as younger than he's traditionally been portrayed.

Corona Coming Attractions has posted a casting notice it says "comes directly from the production." The notice says that director Kenneth Branagh and company are looking for a male in his mid-to-late 20s, 6' or taller.

The notice describes the character of Thor as "Physically powerful, very handsome, occasionally egotistical, petulant, and wild. A natural warrior with a quick charming wit who must be genuinely and severely humbled before becoming the compassionate, mature hero of our film."

CA adds that Thor will film from July through September.

It should be noted that just because the casting notice says the filmmakers are seeking a twenty-something actor for Thor, it doesn't mean they'll hire one. The James Bond producers were looking at twenty-something and early thirty-something actors to play 007 in Casino Royale before hiring Daniel Craig, who was 37 at the time.

And, to end today (gotta cook the dinner), the Ken-bits from a longer article about Emma Thompson (in which Greg Wise gets the kind of 'playful' comments Em used to direct to KB, back in the day and all), fun read: Mail Online (Femail). 9 January 2009:
She may have a fistful of acting awards in one hand, well-regarded screenplays for 'Sense And Sensibility' and 'Nanny McPhee' tucked under her other arm, and a list as long again of worthy political causes in which she is actively involved. But, somehow, it is Emma's romantic life that has always drawn the real attention.

It has been thus since she was in her 20s, when she and her first husband, the flamboyantly public Kenneth Branagh, were the golden couple of the oh-so-fashionable young London luvvie set that included Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. They worked and socialised together, inspiring in equal parts admiration, envy, and infuriation across the chattering classes. It was a glamorous time, she says, but one which eventually, quite simply, wore her out.

'Ken was always full of life,' she says, fondly, of her ex. Then stops abruptly. 'Well, he still is. For God's sake, he's not dead, you know! Isn't it terrible the way we talk about our exes, "He was this", "He was that", as if they're already six feet under. In fact, I still see him, and we'd love to work together again.

'Anyway, he was - is - full of life, and I fell in love with him partly because he was very much like my father, a very funny, very witty, self-made man who came from a working-class background and had taught himself almost everything he knew. He also has a beautiful voice, as did my father, and oddly enough, he was slightly shorter than me - again, like my father.

'We met when we were doing the TV series 'Fortunes Of War', which was about a very interesting couple in a very interesting time of European history. He was a wonderful, wonderful actor, and he also had this extraordinary sort of energy and powerful will to action, and it was very exciting to be with him, because you just thought, "Well, we can do anything."'

As they did. Okay, put the hankies away, tell the local hunk to sign up for Thor and have a good week!
(22 February, thanks Nicola, Jude)

Back with a bit more....

Smooch alert!

Stars of the Silver Screen Donate Kisses to Celebrate Ten Years of MediCinema, Helping to Enhance Therapeutic Care for Patients in Hospitals Around the UK.

To mark our 10th Anniversary, MediCinema is auctioning the Healed With A Kiss collection. The collection contains over 50 original signed lip prints from some of the biggest names in film. Amongst the stars who have donated Healed With A Kiss lip prints are Keira Knightley, Ewan McGregor, Kate Winslet, John Travolta, Shirley MacLaine, Jeff Goldblum, Madonna...and many more.

Exclusive window displays, featuring copies of a selection of the kisses, will be unveiled in Fenwick Bond Street and Fenwick Newcastle during the lead up to Valentine’s Day 2009.

Auction Party
In April 2009, the complete Healed With A Kiss collection will be auctioned at our private Auction Party at The Movieum in London. The Healed With A Kiss Auction Party will offer you the opportunity to own these highly collectable film memorabilia and the chance to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the film industry. Hugh Edmeades, Christie’s International Auctioneer, will chair the auction in support of MediCinema.

For more information about the Auction Party please contact MediCinema on +44(0)20 7188 3697 or email
Proceeds from the Healed With A Kiss Auction will be donated to MediCinema (registered charity 1058197).

I cannot put up the image here but you must click here immediately to see Kenneth's kiss - your lips will part in a big grin! And, of course, you should bid if you can!

And after the love-fest, Shakesperian dissension... from The Guardian, 5 February 2009:

Shakespeare Hall of Fame is One Star Short
by Maev Kennedy

Judi Dench and Leonardo DiCaprio are in, David Tennant and Peggy Ashcroft are provoking furious argument, and Helen Mirren didn't even make the shortlist for the Shakespeare champions of all time - 13 names to fill a new hall of fame in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's visitor centre at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire.

The hall of fame, representing Shakespeare's status as one of the world's most read and performed authors, will embrace performers, directors and artists inspired by him and those who championed his work, such as Charles Dickens, who in 1847 led a campaign to make the half-timbered birthplace a national monument.

The roof over the bedroom where the glover's son was born in 1564 is propped up because there is a worrying crack in a chimney breast - but nothing has shaken the trust like the arguments over the hall of fame, with everyone from receptionists to librarians, guides, security staff and distinguished academics joining in.

Paul Edmundson, the head of learning at the trust, is pleased that first in is Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's friend and contemporary, who coined the phrase "the Swan of Avon" and wrote: "I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on this side of idolatory." He is disappointed that Simon Russell Beale, dubbed the greatest stage actor of his generation, and the 18th-century Edmund Kean, whose performances were described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as "reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning", have not made the shortlist - published today and bound to provoke more dissent. The lifelong rivalry between Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud continues, with only Olivier making the list.

The exhibition, due to open in time for St George's Day in April, anniversary of both Shakespeare's birth and death, is being created because after almost 30 years the old set-up was worn out by the volume of visitors - 700,000 last year, an estimated 24 million since 1847. It will incorporate treasures including a magnificent First Folio and the old Stratford market cross. Apart from entertaining visitors, the displays help to control the numbers crossing the garden to the small, fragile rooms of the birthplace itself.

The hall of fame will include Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa and three Americans: the black singer, actor and socialist Paul Robeson; the director Sam Wanamaker, who devoted the last decades of his life to replicating Shakespeare's Globe theatre at Bankside, London; and Leonardo DiCaprio for the performance in Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo+Juliet' which helped make him a star.

Only two women are definitely in, Victorian actress Ellen Terry and Dame Judi Dench, a leading supporter of the trust. Of the late 20th-century crop of admired Hamlets, only Kenneth Branagh made it - because of his full-text Shakespeare films and the Renaissance theatre company he co-founded. No place for Jonathan Pryce, whose 1980 Hamlet was called "definitive", or Daniel Day Lewis, who in 1989 collapsed on stage on the ghost's first appearance. David Tennant, this winter's kill-for ticket at the Royal Shakespeare Company, made the reserve list.

The hall of fame will have 13 names, the minimum number of players to perform any Shakespeare play. The trust has chosen 12, but Guardian readers are invited to vote online for the last name. Vote at

Bard's Company

Twelve candidates chosen by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for its new hall of fame:
Ben Jonson
David Garrick
Charles Dickens
Ellen Terry
Laurence Olivier
Judi Dench
Kenneth Branagh
Patrick Stewart
Leonardo DiCaprio
Akira Kurosawa
Sam Wanamaker
Paul Robeson

The 10 candidates for the final place:
Peter Brook
John Gielgud
Boris Pasternak
Sarah Siddons
Peggy Ashcroft
George Bernard Shaw
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Sarah Bernhardt
Virginia Woolf
David Tennant
• This article was amended on Thursday 5 February 2009. The stage actor and Star Trek star Patrick Stewart should not have been included in a list of Americans who have been chosen to appear in a hall of fame in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's visitor centre at Stratford-upon-Avon. He is British, born and raised in Yorkshire. This has been corrected.

From drama to opera... it seems that The Magic Flute will have a US distribution deal! Negotiations are in the early stages but there is talk of a small theatrical release and then later a TV release for Kenneth's film. It will be a low-scale independent release and there should be an official announcement soon. If it doesn't come to a cinema near you (all too likely, sigh) and you don't get the channel, there is always hope that a Region 1 DVD will be the logical follow-up. Keep 'em crossed!

A couple of short articles... more of that 'Ken is a Thor genius' talk (yes!) here, and a comment by Ken on Valkyrie here.

That's it for today, but I hope to be back soon!
(18 February, thanks Antoinette, Jude)

Greetings KB-keeners! A few news items, just to keep you up to date...

First, the good news: The winners of the Ninth Annual Theatregoers' Choice Awards have been announced and Kenneth Branagh has won the Best Actor for Ivanov. Michael Grandage won the Best Director award for Ivanov, and Ivanov won the award for Best Play Revival. The Donmar cleaned up in a number of other categories (woooo hooo!) - you can find the details at

Previously, we were in he wuz robbed! territory, with Himself being overlooked in the Olivier Award nominations. This led to a couple of lovely articles from The Times (might this call for a 'how the Times have changed' comment?  :-) )....

Comment from The Times, 4 February 2009

A Bow to Kenneth Branagh

Why has one of our greatest actors been denied an Olivier nomination?

There are two big-name omissions in the Olivier Award nominations for Best Actor. One is startling but understandable: David Tennant, for 'Hamlet', off stage for a significant amount of time with a bad back. However, it is an utter mystery, probably best explained by the vicissitudes of committee-based competition judging, that Kenneth Branagh has not made the final cut.

Branagh's performance as Ivanov in Michael Grandage's widely hailed Donmar revival was universally praised as career-defining. It was also one of the standout theatrical performances of the year. His performance has won Branagh Best Male Performance in the Critics' Circle Awards.

The lavish praise that his performance attracted was all the sweeter because for many years the 48-year-old actor was placed on a cartoonish coconut shy: alongside the likes of Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson, he was widely perceived, and mocked, as one of a generation of self-satisfied luvvies. His passion and his mannered performances attracted derision. If there was a personification of what an "actorrrr" was - self-involved, intense, dahhling this and dahhling that - it was Branagh. But, as his performance in 'Ivanov' showed, this personification obscured his artistry. He was subtle and understated, rather than grandstanding. He won more praise for his portrayal of Wallander in the BBC adaptation of Henning Mankell's detective novels: another quiet, powerful exposition of character. He has pulled out of directing Jude Law in 'Hamlet', citing film commitments, but remains "artistic associate" of the Donmar's West End residency of Wyndham's Theatre. Awards be damned, let's see him return for more curtain calls soon.

And another from The Times, 4 February 2009
By Ben Hoyle

David Tennant's Excuse was a Bad Back But Why Did Kenneth Branagh Miss Out on Awards?

It was Kenneth Branagh's comeback performance as a stage actor in the West End and he blew Fleet Street's grizzled critics away.

The next day's reviews for the Donmar Warehouse's revival of Chekhov's 'Ivanov' were stuffed with superlatives for his turn as a hard-drinking debtor facing up to a mid-life crisis.

The man, once hailed as a new Laurence Olivier, instantly became a front-runner for the theatre awards season. Yesterday, Branagh became a shock omission from the list of nominees for the Olivier Awards, Britain's most prestigious theatre prizes. His absence meant that the two most high-profile male leads missed out. David Tennant's ricked back prevented him from appearing on stage as Hamlet enough times to qualify for consideration.

Branagh, who won the Critics' Circle award last month for Best Male Performance, simply failed to make the cut. Benedict Nightingale wrote in The Times after 'Ivanov''s opening night in September last year that the actor "comes as close as an Englishman can to embodying the emotional blackness of a character Chekhov called 'purely Russian'". "Performance of the year? Without a doubt,"wrote Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail. "He may make it look easy but this is a world-class talent."

Both men were edged out by Derek Jacobi's Malvolio in 'Twelfth Night', by David Bradley and Michael Gambon in the late Harold Pinter's 'No Man's Land', and by Adam Godley in 'Rain Man' (he played the Dustin Hoffman role of the autistic savant brother).

Tennant, who shared the Critics' Circle award for Best Shakespearean Performance with Jacobi, would have been a prime contender had a slipped disc not restricted him to 11 London performances. The awards require at least 28 performances so that all the judges have a chance to see them.

Oliver Ford Davies, nominated for his Polonius in the same production, said that Tennant's omission was "a shame because his performance had deepened and become more subtle" after his acclaimed run as Hamlet in Stratford last summer.

And since the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards kind of passed us by (maybe because Kenneth could not attend due to Thor commitments) here is a short article from, 27 January 2009:
Donmar Turns Out in Force at Critics Awards

The Donmar Warehouse brigade was once again out in force today as the theatre dominated another awards ceremony, with four big wins at the 20th annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, announced today (27 January 2009) in the Delfont Mackintosh Room at the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre.

Margaret Tyzack and Derek Jacobi were on hand to collect awards for Best Actress and Best Shakespearean Performance in 'The Chalk Garden' and 'Twelfth Night', respectively, while their director - and Donmar artistic director – Michael Grandage picked up another Best Director prize for his work on 'The Chalk Garden' and 'Ivanov'.

'Ivanov'’s title star Kenneth Branagh was named Best Actor, but Branagh was absent due to film directing commitments in Los Angeles. When his 'Ivanov' fellow and friend Kevin R McNally collected the award, he read a message from Branagh that, he jokily pretended, began with the words: “I don’t deserve this, please give it to Kevin…”

Other company members from the Donmar’s three Critics’ Circle Award-winning productions – including Penelope Wilton, William Gaunt, Ron Cook and Guy Henry were also on hand to applaud their peers.

Aside from Branagh, the only other notable absentee amongst the winners was David Tennant, who shared the Best Shakespearean Performance accolade with Jacobi and is currently filming the next 'Doctor Who' series in Cardiff. Penny Downie, who played Gertrude in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of 'Hamlet', collected on his behalf as his “very proud mother from Elsinore”.

And further to Kevin McNally's acceptance speech, this from Mark Shenton's blog at The Stage
It was a theme picked up by Kenneth Branagh, in an acceptance speech that was delivered on his behalf by Kevin McNally, in which he said that though critics are sometimes thought of warily by theatre practitioners, he'd actually just signed a petition to restore a critic's job that had recently been lost. Though some in the audience wondered on whose behalf such an injunction was being made, it wasn't for a critic at home, but in LA where he is currently working.
I don't know who the critic is, but I'm sure someone out there does! (Presumably also the critic him/herself...).

This is only a part of what I wanted to post, but it's the dreaded Sunday night with its temptation to stay up too long and make lots of mistakes, so I will stop and try to continue tomorrow... if I am not too brain-dead. We're having a visit from the new Japanese consul at the workplace tomorrow, with lots of cool stuff to be laid out, a rare Japanese book from the 30s about Dutch architecture counter-pointed with a rare edition (in Japanese) of Bruno Taut's German book on Japanese architecture; and a visually gorgeous pairing of a late 19th century Japanese treatise on wood building and a monograph on Shigeru Ban, wood builder extraordinaire... (Apologies for this descent into archi-geekdom, but now and then I can't control myself and like to mix up all the stuff I love, the actors and the architects.) So back as soon as possible!
(15 February, thanks Sal, Jude)

Another quick sign of life! The salt mine has turned into a nuthouse, which, apart from the fact that these days one is glad to have a salt mine to go to, makes life even more "interesting" than usual... the only downside is the fried brain most evenings. So I'm trying for some quick updates, to at least keep you marginally in the loop (though you won't have ALL the news each time). So today we have....

Finally, a page for Thor, which basically only has a few articles. Two are new: Kenneth Branagh Talks Thor: Directing and Casting and "Thor" Movie Update: Kenneth Branagh Meets With Joe Quesada & Brian Bendis.

And we have a poster for The Boat That Rocked. Gotta love the owl-glasses!

There is some awards (and non-awards) news, but it will be the next time - SORRY! I will be back!
(4 February, thanks Pierpaolo, Patricia)

Hi kenners (check your German dictionary) of all things Ken! Another quick sign of life to point you to Ken's lovely thank you for this year's (well, last year's if you're dotting the "i's") fundraising effort: read it and learn abour the earlier projects here.

The page loads quickety-quick because the 2008 news has moved to the News & Notes Archive.

This is horribly short, lashings of apologies and many good intentions (if I win the lottery I promise I will update this sucker daily!). Hope to be back soon!
(25 January, thanks Jude)

Hey Branagholics! Just giving a sign of life, which I know is overdue (blame visiting rellies and the workplace turning itself on its head [and I don't even work in the financial sector :-)]. Anyway, a few things, just to keep us going...

You'll find a nice Wallander review here.

And speaking of Wallander, here is a short article from the Orlando Sentinel television blog, 7 January 2009:

Kenneth Branagh Finds a Role He Can Return to as Wallander in PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery!"
posted by halboedeker

Helen Mirren had Jane Tennison. Kenneth Branagh could have a comparable long-running role as Kurt Wallander on PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery!"

Three of the "Wallander" stories will air May 10, 17 and 31.

"I'd certainly be very, very happy to make some more of them," Branagh told me Wednesday. "When we approached it, we were very aware of how many excellent detective stories there have been on television and that we had to really earn our right to be there. There are another seven books that potentially could be adapted."

"Wallander" received raves on British television, and "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton announced that three more mysteries will be produced.

"Well, we'll do them," Branagh replied. "I'm so glad. Again, you said that out loud."

Branagh plays the troubled Swedish detective from Henning Mankell's novels. The detective has broken up with his wife and must deal with a health crisis, a disruptive daughter and a deteriorating father. Branagh said he liked the character's relative lack of vanity, his attempts to change, his vulnerability and a style that isn't macho.

So North Americans will be treated to Wallander in May!

There will be a Thor page at some point... really.... but in the meantime (cough) here's a little article from, 2 January 2009 which hints that Kenneth might have a part in the film as well as directing it.

How Thor Came to Earth
Plus, Director Branagh to Reportedly Act in Marvel Film As Well
by Jim Vejvoda

One of the big questions about how Marvel's God of Thunder would make his transition from the 'Thor' movie to 'The Avengers' has reportedly been answered.

According to IESB, rumor has it that "the character of Donald Blake has been added to the end of the script. Let me reiterate that he wasn't there before, the script was set entirely in the land of the Norse Gods. The introduction of the character is essential to how Marvel will tie 'Thor' into the 'Avengers' that is set in contemporary Tony Stark/Hulk time-frame. It explains how the actual 'Thor' film will be set in the ancient time of the Norse Gods and how they will subsequently bring the character into a modern time with Donald Blake discovering the magical Norse hammer Mjolnir and turning into Thor."

Marvel reminds us of the comic book history of the character of Dr. Donald Blake: "Thor chased a monster into the land of the Frost Giants, a breech of protocol that nearly sparked a war in all of Asgard. Odin had to teach Thor a lesson. He created a mortal body for him, one with a lame leg, and sent Thor, stripped of his powers and memories, to Earth. Thor arrived on the campus of New York State College of Medicine as Donald Blake. Blake proved to be the humble and patient man Odin had hoped for. He eventually graduated with top honors, gained a reputation as a caring family doctor and a brilliant surgeon, and opened a private practice in New York City. His nurse, Jane Foster, was equally caring and competent, and the two began to fall in love."

IESB adds that, in addition to directing 'Thor', Kenneth Branagh will play an unspecified supporting role in the film as well. Branagh previously acted and directed in films such as 'Henry V', 'Hamlet', 'Dead Again', and 'Much Ado About Nothing'.

There is also a cute clip on the site with Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp talking about Thor.

You can catch a comment from Ken, attending the pre-Golden Globes Bafta tea party (guess he didn't get to belt back the hard stuff with the rest of the tipsy gang at the actual awards event) at the BBC site here. You can see a couple of photos from this event here.

You can watch the trailer for The Boat That Rocked, on this site, here.

Back as soon as possible!
(15 January, thanks Catherine, Jude, Patticia)

Happy New Year to all you Kenians! A bit of catch-up finally... in no particular order...

A recent article about a issue of concern, from the Press Association, 15 December 2008:

Action Urged Over Illegal Downloads

Award-winning producers, directors and writers have called for action to tackle illegal downloads of films and TV shows which they say are threatening jobs.

Oscar nominated directors Sir Alan Parker, Mike Leigh and Kenneth Branagh are among the household names who have called on the Government to address the problem of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing and the widespread availability of illegal, free content via the internet. The group of more than 100 also includes 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' screenwriter Richard Curtis, 'Billy Elliot' director Stephen Daldry and 'The Fast Show' writer Charlie Higson.

The group of more than 100 called for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to assist rights owners in stamping out file-sharing over their networks.

The campaign is backed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta), the UK Film Council, the Cinema Exhibitors' Association, actors' union Equity, the Entertainment Retail Association, the Film Distributors' Association and the British Video Association. Callum MacDougall, the producer of this year's James Bond blockbuster 'Quantum of Solace', said: "This call for action comes from some of the talent behind Britain's much-loved films, but we make it not for our own benefit but in the interests of those involved in the creative process whose losses from online theft are proportionately much greater - this includes the technicians, the staff on set, those who work in cinemas and those on the high street who bring the enjoyment of film to millions."

Stephen Garrett, producer of the hit drama 'Spooks' and managing director of Kudos Productions, said: "There is never a right time to ignore anything that threatens jobs, but in an economic downturn it is somewhere between irresponsibility and insanity. The creative economy sustains more than 800,000 jobs, so it is critical that Government tackles illegal file-sharing now."

A Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) consultation on illicit P2P file-sharing finished at the end of October and it is due to report back soon. A BERR spokesman said: "We completely agree that piracy is a very important issue, which is why in July this year the Government brought together the film and music industries with the main UK Internet Service Providers to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) pledging to crack down on unlawful file sharing." The spokesman added: "We will also be publishing the interim Digital Britain Report early in the year which will also consider peer-to-peer file-sharing in the context of wider sectoral

You can watch an interview with Kenneth, about Valkyrie, here. You can see a cartload of photos from the film here. There are reviews on the Valkyrie page, and you can see photos from the premiere in New York and the premiere in Los Angeles. Some very nice photos with the ever more lovely Lindsay.

Here's the pertinent bit of a review of Wallander from Le Monde, 17 December 2008:

"Branagh is amazing when he moves with a natural nonchalance, when he talks hesitatingly and cuts his sentences in half as if words scared him. He is also amazing when he says nothing, just staring at you through the TV screen. Without a word he tells you about what he feels, about this despair of being a cop, this empathy which he can't help experiencing for the victims and which ruins his life. By his only presence the Irish actor outshines everything around him, so much that you even forget the weakness of the plots. You are just happy to see him."
You can see a few photos taken at the 2008 Evening Standard Awards here.

There is more, but the web-host is moving servers and apparently things may get mucky, so I'm rushing to get at least these few things up before tomorrow. More in a few days!
(1 January 2009, thanks Jude, Pierpaolo, Terry, Gina, Isabelle