News Archive: July 2009 - December 2009

Second squeak-in before the year closes here, with a few nice goodies to slide you from 2009 to 2010...

New media stuff:

Be sure to listen to all three parts of the Wonderful Interview (not sure where it's from, but the interviewer is from Northern Ireland) - it's gold!

You can read a very short article about playing Wallander here and an interview about The Magic Flute here.

There is a new gallery of photos here from the filming of series two of Wallander.

And finally, if you are looking to start the year off with an investment in the entertainment world you should read this article.

Happy New Year to all!
(31 December, thanks Jude, tediousoldfools, Ilaria, Anna, Renie)

Happy holidays, Kenians! After squeaking in before the end of last month, I'm squeaking in before the end of the year.

In Wallander news, Kenneth has been nominated for a Golden Globe award in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. The awards will be televised (in all their tiddly glory) on NBC on 17 January 2010.

Meanwhile, even before that, UKers can tune into the second series of Wallander, which begins on 3 January. Read the BBC Press Release here. The release date for Wallander 2 on DVD in the UK is 8 February 2010; there will also be tie-in books.

If you hurry, you can listen to a BBC radio interview with Kenneth about playing Wallander here. It should be up until Monday 28 December.

Wallander is being televised down under and you can read a review here.

The hot iron in the fire at this point is Thor, which, as I have mentioned before, defeats me with millions of repeated four-sentence articles. Cast members keep getting added, the latest being Rene Russo, about whom you can read here. I did manage to find a few slightly more substantial items: Joe Quesada Says 'Thor' Movie Will Redefine The Superhero Genre, Stan Lee Confirms His 'Thor' Cameo and More From Stan Lee On His 'Thor' Cameo And Kenneth Branagh. Apparently rehearsals started in December; filming begins in January. One Brent Sprecher, on, posted this on 1 December:

Thor Movie Shrouded in Secrecy

Natalie Portman blames technology for the blanket of secrecy that surrounds Thor and other Marvel Studios movies! Ever wondered how Marvel Studios keeps such a tight lid on all of their super hero films in development? Well, according to actress Natalie Portman, who will be appearing as Jane Foster in the live-action adaptation of the popular Thor comic book, that's because Marvel operates like a black ops government agency!

"I think everyone has gotten more secretive just because of the preponderance of technology that can scam just about anything. It's like you don't get a script anymore that doesn't have watermarks that would identify you if you ever tried to leak anything. The Thor script is hard to read because it's on some weird colored paper and they have your name in huge letters across every page. And any time you get a phone call from Marvel, it doesn't come up as a normal number, it's like a five digit code. I've never seen that before. I've had phone calls from people in the government and they don't have that. Marvel's like some like crazy underground world."
Thor will be directed by Kenneth Branagh and is expected to begin shooting in January. Other actors rounding out the cast include Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Stuart Townsend, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba and Kat Dennings.

Thor opens May 20, 2011!


And here you can read a nice interview with KB, from an Italian magazine.

I have a couple more things which I will put up in the next couple of days - promise!
(26 December, thanks Nancy, Anna, Jude, Ilaria)

Hey 2Be-ans, I am squeezing in before the end of the month, just so I am not the usual sloth! There is Thor casting news, logically I guess, as the movie starts filming in January. Here are links to a bunch of articles, about the casting and other things, in order of appearance: Stan Lee On His 'Thor' Cameo And Meeting With Kenneth Branagh, 'Thor' Begins Set Construction, CUP O' JOE: Thor On Film, Back-Up Stories & More, Marvel's 'Thor' Assembles All-star Cast and Week in Geek: Kenneth Branagh's Thor is Coming Together.

And here is a short comment on one casting coup, by Andrew Mack, in Twitch, 16 November:

Tadanobu Asano to join Kenneth Branagh's 'Thor'!

Just tweeting with fellow writer James Marsh and he pointed me towards some very good news about Kenneth Branagh's upcoming Thor film. Japanese actor and darling of these pages Tadanobu Asano has joined his cast! Keen!

"Thor" helmer Kenneth Branagh has locked Stuart Townsend, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano to play Warrior's Three, a trio of Asgardian adventurers who fight alongside the Norse god in the Marvel Entertainment drama.

As I understand it from a filmmaking friend Tadanobu only commits to working in a set number of films each year so this is quite the achievement for Branagh. Well done sir.

And here's another casting comment, from Josh Grossberg on E!online, 23 November:
Natalie Portman's "Weird" Reason for Hooking Up With Thor

Natalie Portman knows from fanboys. First, there were the Star Wars prequels. Now, there's Thor. So what exactly attracts an Oscar-nominated actress to comic-book fare? A love of Norse mythology? Beefy blond guys twirling hammers? A potential franchise? Not quite.

"I just thought it sounded like a really weird idea 'cause Kenneth Branagh's directing it," Portman said during the weekend junket for her much more highbrow flick, Brothers. "And Ken Branagh doing Thor is super weird. I've got to do it."

She's in good company. Portman will star alongside Chris Hemsworth (as the hammer-wielding god of thunder), Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård and Stuart Townsend. Filming starts in January for a 2011 release.

And finally, a note in the "small world" and "how time flies" category: In one of the new 'Wallander' episodes KB has been working with Jack Ravenscroft, the son of Christopher Ravenscroft who played Montjoy the herald in 'Henry V' and who also worked with KB on stage in 'Twelfth Night' and 'Henry V' and on radio in 'Hamlet'. Nice!

Mini-photo-finish: another of the not-many photos of Kenneth wearing glasses and wearing a hat or hoodie, posing back in the day...

I'll be back in December (the month of you-know-who's birthday).
(30 November, thanks Virginia, Emily)

Branagholics... there's not enough to get drunk on, but here are a few drops...

The newest news is that Anthony Hopkins is replacing Brian Blessed in Thor. You can read the plain news here, and speculative commentary here. Meanwhile, the rumours about Jude Law and Robert De Niro having parts in the film have apparently been denied.

There is a new rumour about where some of the filming might take place. Devin D. O’Leary at, wrote on 29 October:

Make Mine Marvel

It looks like the next Hollywood film to shoot in our fair state might just be a big one. Rumors have been circulating for a few months that the next Marvel Comics superhero to hit the big screen, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s immortal thunder god Thor, may be doing some New Mexico location shooting. Details on the film, which is being directed by Shakespeare lover Kenneth Branagh, are still very much under wraps. But casting call sheets that were leaked on the Internet earlier this month described one of the main characters in a “small New Mexico town.” I think we’ve got that location covered. The film is scheduled to start shooting in January, with a proposed release date of May 2011. Among the cast — most of whom are still just rumored — are Jude Law, Stellan Skarsgård, Robert De Niro and Natalie Portman. Chris Hemsworth, who played Kirk’s doomed dad in the recent Star Trek film, is signed up to take on the title role. So if you see a few hammer-wielding Norse gods wandering around New Mexico in the next few months, don’t be shocked.

Speaking of locations, Wallander helped Ystad score the 2009 Grand Tourism Award in Sweden. Read about it here. There is another article relating to Wallander, which I missed earlier, here. And here is a snip relating to Ken from a short piece on Henning Mankell in The Guardian, 25 August 2009:
He revealed that Kenneth Branagh is currently in Sweden, shooting three more Wallander adaptations for the BBC. "He is good. What they are doing is very pure; they have come as close as anyone to classical drama, and that interests me a lot," said the author, who cites ancient Greek drama such as Euripides's Medea as the original crime stories.

Two actors have played Wallander on Swedish TV, and Mankell told us that Branagh had bumped into one of them on the street. "They talked a little, very politely," said Mankell drily, "and then went off in different directions."

The photos today all relate to Wallander. First, a photo of Kenneth and Rebecca Eaton at the Paley Center event. Then a new gallery of Wallander photos, and finally, a few new photos from the Wallander II shoot. Looking (thin and) good!

The very last drop is a quote from Kenneth about Robert Altman, cited in a review of Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, by Janet Maislin, 14 October 2009:

By contrast there is this from Kenneth Branagh vis-à-vis “The Gingerbread Man,” a late-life Altman fiasco: “His sensibility was a poetic one that tried to embrace within a passion for cinema the American tradition of moviemaking and to infuse that with the poetic, sometimes anarchic deconstruction of the traditional architecture of genre films.”
That's it for now. Maybe back soon (no more promises I cannot keep :-)).
(1 November, thanks Jane, Lyn)

Kensters! Just a quickie to let you know that there is an "open casting call" for Thor. This could mean you... you can read an article with details here. Ii includes some other info I found: the name of the casting agents and their address, and a "how to" blurb from the site with this information. Good luck!

(10 October, thanks Paula)

Hi Kenians! I should not have made the "back soon (yeah, yeah)" crack - I've just realised that it's been more than a month! Aaack! But I've been on holiday (not for the month, alas) and you haven't missed much, so I guess it's all good, as they say.

Whilst I was basking under bright lights far from Broadway, Wallander/Kenneth did not clean up at the Emmys, which was pretty much predicted - but there is always the next set of episodes and next year. And speaking of Wallander, Swedish media featured an interview with Kenneth, which you can listen to here (click on 'Kenneth Branagh'). You can hear a somewhat extended version of the same interview (without a couple of questions in Swedish, which I thought were fun - you learn Swedish by deducing the qurstion from the answer), courtesy of tediousoldfools, here.

Otherwise, there is some Thor news... New cast members have been announced: Jaimie Alexander and our very own Canuck (and Shakespeare interpreter of note and talent) Colm Feore. Jaimie Alexander is playing Sif, and "Feore's character is shrouded in mystery -- the studio isn't even sending the actors the script -- though it is known to be a villain". This sounds Woody-Allen-ish, but probably isn't. You can read the fuller blurb here. And Stellan Skarsgård has also been cast, also in a part he can't reveal. You'll remember that his oh-hello!-who-are-you?-would-you-like-to-come-in?-looking son had been auditioned for the part of Thor but unfortunately did not get the part (which did, however, go to another oh-hello!-who-are-you?-would-you-like-to-come-in? young man). Some of us older gels will be quite happy to see Stellan, though. :-) Read about it here.

You will find two more articles: one which confirms, in print, that oh-hello!-who-are-you?-would-you-like-to-come-in? Chris Hemsworth has been cast as Thor. And another which discusses the film's release date.

At some point when I wasn't paying attention, someone who was rejected by Mensa and likes things literal, changed the the title of The Boat That Rocked to Pirate Radio for the North American release of the film (takes me back to when they changed The Honest Courtesan to Dangerous Beauty for North American release, because the former sounded like a medical treatment - wretched film in any case, even though it brought my Rufus a lot of fans). There are new trailers on the official website and the release date is now 13 November. Yeesh.

There is a nice online interview relating to The Boat That Rocked, and more, which you can see here.

That's it for now kids! I will see if I can dig up any new photos...
(4 October, thanks Wenda, Ina, Emily, Jude, Sara)

Greetings Ken-fans! If you are looking for the news from earlier than July, you will find it in the News & Notes Archive. Meanwhile, after my usual way-longer-than-planned hiatus (I don't have any excuse except slothdom, alas) here are a few things...

Little Thor bits: it appears they have finally cast Thor, in the form of Chris Hemsworth. I think this happened a while ago, but there didn't seem to be any "statement" type announcements. There is a huge web of comic book information sites, which kinda/sorta all repeat the same news, but my head doesn't wrap around them very well, so I feel that the Compendium might not be on the ball here.

Anyhoooo... Nathalie Portman has also been cast and there is a wee article, with the kind of title I just love, here.

This is a small part of a much longer article at Comic Book Resouces, in interview with Kevin Feige about the slate of films at Marvel Studios:

How is “Thor” coming along and when does it start shooting?

Kenneth Branagh is great and we’ve got Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth and I can’t wait till next year when we bring all of those guys to Comic-Con. Natalie Portman is onboard, which we’ve mentioned. We are about halfway through prep and we start shooting in January.

Finally, what sold you on Chris Hemsworth as Thor? What made you say, “This is the God of Thunder?”

It’s one of those rare things that doesn’t happen often but people like me always say it so it probably sounds cliché. But we auditioned a lot of people. We did a lot of screen tests. We put a lot of people on video. One guy just kept popping out, it was Chris and you realized, regardless of what he’s saying or how he’s saying it, you’re engaged with him. It’s that movie star quality which I think he has. And, thankfully, he looks like Thor, which is a good combination.

It also seems that an attractive young lady named Diora Baird has auditioned for a role in the film - there will be more info if she gets cast, I assume.

Wallander articles are still turning up. There is a very nice little interview from a German paper, and a discussion about the Swedish and British series. There are also a whole slew of photos which you can see here.

There is a video from the Paley Centre/Times Talks event featuring Wallander here.

Random notes:

Warner Brothers is releasing Gone with the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray this on 17 November. New features include: 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year, new documentary about Hollywood's watershed year, narrated by Kenneth Branagh. This documentary shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) during this past July.

Also being released on Blu-ray on 13 October, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Click here to see the cover.

Back to TCM, this info from TV Week:

Kenneth Branagh, Martin Landau, and Bryan Singer to be Interviewed by TCM's new Series 'A Night at the Movies' Variety

A series of one-hour specials titled “A Night at the Movies” from DreamWorks Television will be launched by Turner Classic Movies, Daily Variety reports. Each special will take a look at a different film genre. Justin Falvey and Daryl Frank are executive producers. The specials will be aired on Friday nights beginning October 2.

In separate interviews Kenneth Branagh will discuss "Dead Again," Martin Landau will talk about the Alfred Hitchcock classic "North by Northwest’," and Bryan Singer will talk abou a cult favorite , Singer's “The Usual Suspects.” These are just a few of those interviewed for the series.

And the journalist Liz Jones showed that she didn't notice that Kurt Wallander wasn't leading a happy and healthy life with these lines from a weirdly pointless mid-life-ick article, in the Daily Mail, 1 August 2009:
"The worst thing, I find, about being 50 is when you come across a contemporary and realise with shock how ancient they are. I interviewed Kenneth Branagh while he was still at drama school: I remember I went to his awful flat in somewhere dingy like Isleworth.

I turned on the TV the other week to see him in 'Wallander' and was shocked, for there in front of me was an old man at the twilight of his career. Dear God, I thought, is that how I come across?"

Uhm, when you do a turn as Miss Marple, maybe yes.   :-)

And finally, if you haven't seen them, you can access the episodes of Thompson, a variety show from the 80s starring Emma Thompson and featuring Kenneth Branagh, on Youtube. Type in "kenneth branagh in thompson" and there they are. Tons of fun!

We finally have a photo finish! It's been a while but this will make up for the dearth of images lately... first, three photos from an undated photoshoot, then two more photos, presumably from the same shoot, and four photos used for Wallander promos in Germany.

That's it for today. Back soon (yeah, yeah)...
(23 August, thanks Lyn, Paula, Jude)

Kensterinas, just a very, very quick update (I've had a wee vacation and am madly trying to hold on to that relaxed feeling, ha!)...

The Ken-Friends 2009 Cookbook Raffle has been won by Heidi Weber. Congratulations!

The Emmy Award nominations have been announced, and guess which television drama has been nominated for a couple of awards...

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special:
Wallander: One Step Behind • PBS • A Left Bank Pictures/Yellow Bird/ TKBC/BBC series for WGBH Philip Martin, Director

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Wallander: One Step Behind • PBS • A Left Bank Pictures/Yellow Bird/ TKBC/BBC series for WGBH Kenneth Branagh, as Kurt Wallander

The Emmy Awards will be presented on 29 August 2009.

There is more but I will have to come back. Till soon!
(22 July, thanks Jude)

Very quick addition: you can see KB onstage at the RomaFictionFest here. Gotta love that Youtube, and deborahswain who put this up! Grazie!
(13 July, thanks Eva)

Hey Keen Kenians - here are a few links relating to the RomaFictionFest...

There is a video on the RomaFictionFest site, for some reason I can't see it, but it does seem to be there, the title is Riassunto video RomaFictionFest 10 luglio 2009. You can a video clip on a news channel here and another one here (curiously this one repeats, so you can catch whatever you missed without replaying :-)).

Meanwhile, a nice lady called Georgia has posted a number of photos she took at the event: you can see them here.

A "cut-out-all-the-extraneous-people-from-the-official-photo" version can be seen here.

And we'll end with an excerpt from an entertaining article about the Battersea Dogs Home, by Melissa Wareham in the MailOnline, 4 July 2009:

Kenneth Branagh once came to Battersea with his friend, the actor Derek Jacobi, and they were both charming. At the time, Kenneth lived with his retired mother. Their large house came with live-in staff and plenty of secure grounds for a dog to run around in.

He had fallen head over heels for a small, middle-aged Jack Russell cross. Her name was Suzy and although she was small, she was feisty. She came into Battersea as a stray, picked up in South-East London. We guessed the reason she was 'let go' was because of her cantankerous attitude towards other dogs.

The meeting between canine and human went swimmingly and he adored her. He gave her a treat and in return she brought him a squeaky pork chop. I felt as if I was watching a scene from Romeo And Juliet.

Suzy had met no other dogs while Kenneth was getting to know her but as he waited with her at reception to pay, our kennel manager and his bulldog, Bertie, walked past. It was as if little Suzy had changed into an Exocet missile. Her ears went right back, her bark sounded like a crazy mezzosoprano screech, and she jumped around in all directions on the end of the lead like a kangaroo on crack.

Kenneth went pale, I thought Derek Jacobi was going to faint.

I gave the poor man the option of changing his mind or at least deferring until we had carried out further tests on Suzy's personality disorder. But in true 'the show must go on' style, and once he was over the initial shock, Kenneth said he, too, had days like that and he thought Suzy and he would get along famously.

A few months later, Kenneth appeared on the front cover of Battersea's quarterly magazine, Paws. He was in full costume on the set of his latest film, Shackleton, proudly holding an impeccably behaved Suzy.

Aaawwww.... there is a photo of Kenneth and Suzie in the article (and here) and here's a look back at a cute drawing of Suzie for a charity auction in 2006.

Photo finish: the RomaFictionFest has a great 10 Days to War photo up: here it is.

That's it for the moment - back soon, I hope!
(12 July, thanks Jude)