News Archive: January 2011 - June 2011

A couple of new additions, catching up... a link to a nice video: "Kenneth Branagh Brings "Thor" to the Big Screen" on CBSNews.

And a video announcing Highlights of the Belfast Lyric Theatre’s New Season (The Telegraph, 2 May 2011) with Sean Foley at 2:39 mins.

(30 June, Thanks, Paula)

Hi Kenners... scraping in just a smidge sooner than the three weeks I claimed I would be back before (cough).

Some new news: My Week With Marilyn will be released on 4 November 2011. And to go with that, a "first review" of the film.

In 'blast from the past' territory: a review of the DVD/Blu-ray release of Rabbit-Proof Fence. And further back... a review of the Blu-ray edition of Much Ado About Nothing.

A bit of catch up on the visuals: photos from the Benefit Event at the Shakespeare Center in Los Angeles on 9 May, along with an article to remind you of what it was all about.

Another article about Life and Fate, coming in September. And a "career overview" article. And - yay! - a cover for the Cover Gallery.

And finally, from the "good works" department: Kenneth Branagh to Sponsor Windsor Fringe Festival.

That's it for now. Back at some point (hoping that being non-commital means soon!)
(26 June, thanks Jude)

Ken-fans! Sorry it's been ages (the saltmine and a wee sideline did me in) but I will try to catch up.

There are a couple of bits of new news, but I've only got one under control for today: a new project for Kenneth to look forward to! There are two articles about it: Kenneth Branagh to Star In Eight-Hour Radio 4 Adaptation of Russian Epic and Kenneth Branagh to Star in 'Life And Fate' on Radio 4. A perfect ending to the summer! (Assuming it will be available through Listen again)

There are tons of Thor related reviews and video links. I've got to work through them - for now, you can read six of them here (or linked out from the Thor page or Reading Room): one; two; three; four; five; and six.

There will be more, and sooner than in three weeks!
(5 June, thanks Jude, Renie)

Just a quickie (the salt mine is knocking me out, just when there is so much new stuff to put up, of course!). You can see a very lovely, long, online interview, from Making Of here. Enjoy!

More to come!
(11 May, thanks Emma)

Greetings 2B-ers. There is no way I can keep up with all the Thor stuff, so I will be serving it a bit at a time.

Today you will find an article, another article, and another (there are tons more to come). Then there are a couple of links to fun behind-the-scenes videos, one and two. And, the big photo finish: photos from a Thor screening in New York and photos from the Thor premiere in Los Angeles. KB is treading on fashion ground in LA, check out the suit and its accessories!

I'll be back!
(9 May, thanks Yvonne, Carole)

Okay, so clearly I am not heading in the right direction memory-wise... here is the other time-determined item which I forgot (!):

Christina Applegate, Kenneth Branagh, Faith Hill, Eric Idle, Arte Johnson, Eugene Levy, Tim McGraw, William Shatner, Martin Short, and Tracey Ullman will take part in a reading of Shakesepeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor", to be offered on Monday, May 9 at 8 pm at UCLA's Royce Hall. Ben Donenberg will direct the performance, which is part of the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles' Simply Shakespeare series and will raise money for the company's work.

The piece centers on the character of Falstaff, first seen in the Bard's Henry IV plays, and his lecherous designs on two married women.

Visit the Shakespeare Center website for ticket info.

More soon!
(same day, 7 May...)

Kenians! I am way behind, but working in it... in the meantime, here is time-sensitive news which I have already let wait too long:

Kenneth Branagh in Person! "Hamlet" in 70mm
Sunday, May 8, 5:00 pm
Aero Theatre
Santa Monica, CA

HAMLET, 1996, 242 min. Branagh updates Shakespeare's classic and presents it in all its unedited glory in this epic treatment, one of the last films to be shot in 70mm. Branagh shines in the title role but wisely surrounds himself with an astonishing supporting cast that includes Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, John Gielgud, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal!
Price: $11 general admission, $9 student/senior, and $7 American Cinematheque Members Phone: (323) 461-2020

Discussion following with Kenneth Branagh!

'Much Ado' and 'A Midwinter's Tale' will be shown on May 6th, 'Dead Again' and 'Henry V' will be shown on May 7th.

Sorry about this being so late, especially for anyone who might have gone to the films showings yesterday and today! More things (not time-sensitive!) to come.
(7 May, thanks Jude)

Very quick - I have some photos, and a couple of other articles, but for now I am posting a slew of reviews and articles relating to Thor. There are fifteen, too many to list here, so please visit the Thor page and you'll see them listed, in reverse chronological order.

More soon!
(2 May, thanks Virginia, Anne-Marie, Ralphe, Auriette, Jude, Paula)

Hi Kenners! I've been coding my head off and have just realised that I have to yak about all the stuff added to the site. And go to bed. So... as briefly as I can manage...

Tons of Thor stuff: the film premiered in Sydney, Australia today and you can already read three reviews. However, a spoiler alert goes along with them, so you may want to skip the reading. I can tell you that they are GOOD. I have also caught up with the articles that came along before the premiere, and for the sake of brevity (and because there are seven and it gets messy listing them here), I'll direct you to the Thor page, where they are all listed.

Also on that page you will find links to two sets of photos from the press conferences in Paris and London. You'll also find, last items under Online Media (don't know how to name that group), two links to footage from the premiere in Sydney.

And the catch-up from last time: the shockingly awful (in content, style, attitude, and all the rest) article which appeared while the editor at The Guardian was sleeping, and the follow-up article which endeavoured to take the egg off red faces. For a good time call... erm, no, read the comments at the bottom of the earlier opus.

And there was a nice article in The Sunday Times - for a pleasant finish.

More sometime soon!
(17 April, thanks Lyn, Emma, Ralphe, Jules, Renie, Eva, Pennie)

So "tomorrow if all goes well" turns out to be 22 days later... erk. But, hopefully "better late than never" applies.

Thor premieres in Australia this coming Sunday! Then it will open in Europe ten days later! There are eight more articles. They are listed in descending date order here: ♦KAPOW: Detailed Description Of Twenty Minutes Of Brand New Thor Footage Featuring Hawkeye Cameo And More!, ♦Idris Elba Praises Branagh's Casting, ♦ Ken: Thor Makes Wife Go Phwoar, ♦Adriana Barraza Cut From THOR's Final Product!, ♦CinemaCon: Paramount & Marvel Preview Thor & Captain America, ♦Branagh On Idris Elba's Thor Casting, and ♦Get Set for Thor, the Sex God Superhero. As you can see from some of the titles, amusing stuff.

There is also a nice "behind the scenes" short video which you can see here. There are also new TV spots and other promos, which are easy to find online (and probably soon on your television screen).

There is a new wee short article related to The Painkiller here. And you will find a peek into the past in the DVD review of Discovering Hamlet.

The finish is a nice article from The Sunday Times. It was preceeded by a rather appalling one in The Guardian which I will put up (we don't censor here) but which does not merit staying awake any later to code, heh heh. (So something to not-look-forward-to!)

Till next time!
(11 April, thanks Emma, Jude, Pennie)

Believe it or not, it's moi, back again with some new stuff. In random order...

Nice quote from Natalie Portman, from a longer article, snitched by many sources from Total Film:

She admitted to Total Film: "I loved Darren Aronofsky, and working with him was a deeply fulfilling experience, but I just showed up for Thor spent. I probably should have gone into rehab."

However, Portman stated that the opportunity to work with Thor director Kenneth Branagh was worth enduring such a stressful period.

She added: "I must have watched [Branagh's] "Much Ado About Nothing" about 500 times, I love that film so much.

"He was one of the first people I've met that I was excited about when I met them. When I worked with him, it exceeded my expectations."

Aawww... And from a longer interview with Anthony Hopkins:
You seem to have enjoyed your time making Thor
Yes, it might surprise you but it’s been one of the most positive experiences of my career. Of course, [director] Kenneth Branagh’s a lovely man, a fellow Celt. But everybody, from the cast along to the caterers, was wonderful.
And, coz they're all spilling the beans, here's Ray Stevenson, also from a longer article:
Moving into Thor, what can you tell us about your interpretation of Volstagg? We hear there was a fat suit involved.
Ray Stevenson: [Laughs.] Yeah. It’s Volstagg, with a big red beard, red hair, six-bladed battle ax—basically, he’s 1,000 pounds of fun. I made him sort of epicurean, as well, sort of like the dancing elephants in Fantasia. [Laughs.] He’s like on the tiptoes of his feet, and he’s always the life and the fun of the party.

How’d you get involved with that project?
Ray Stevenson: I’ve worked with [Thor director] Kenneth Branagh previously, many years ago. He just called me up and said, “I know that you’re a big strapping lad,” and all this other stuff, “but I just think you’d be great in this. We’re going to put you in a big fat suit, if you choose to do it. But it will never be dull.” And I thought, When else on Earth is somebody going to put that proposition on the table? So I said, “Absolutely! Where do I sign up for this fat suit?” [Laughs.]

He made you an offer you can’t refuse, huh? See what I did there—mafia reference? It all comes full circle.
Ray Stevenson: [Laughs.] Well done. It was such a fun film to work on, though. Just walking onto some of the Asgard sets, you’re expecting 100 lined-up dancers to come across this sort of black glass floor. There were these great big giant gilded ram heads, which were actually chimneys over a lava rock, fire pit. It was just insane. It was one of the biggest sets that I’ve ever been on. And then, of course, we went to New Mexico. Asgard lands on Earth, and, strangely enough, we land on America. [Laughs.] Like every other UFO in history. Go figure.

One of the biggest questions comic book fans have about Thor concerns Chris Hemsworth, and how he’ll play the character. Having worked next to him, how do you think he did?
Ray Stevenson: I think he’s great! He’s got that bit about a young male right on the cusp. Is he old enough? Is he responsible enough to take over the throne of Asgard, or is it all so far away from him still? It’s a really complex journey. Chris has such openness. I think he was an inspired choice for Thor—he’s going to be great. The fans should feel at ease.

And another little snip from Mr. Stevenson, from another interview:
Assuring that Volstagg won't be a one-time gig, Stevens said, "I’ve got a three picture deal." He went on talk about early negotiations for him to take on the role. "My agent said, 'people won’t recognize you.' And I said, 'I don’t give a damn! Who else is gonna give me a chance to put a big fatsuit on and ham it up?' And I said to Ken Branagh, 'I was nervous,' and he said, 'you can’t be too loud!' So I said, 'fine, I’ll dip my toe into the river of ham.' And he said, 'trust me, I’ve swam in that river many times. You enjoy that!'"
LOL! [I suspect that KB said swum not swam - or maybe not, maybe just me, warped from teaching inglese in a former life  :-) ]

So, as you can tell, the Thor scene is heating up. You can see 25 new photos, which will be used on trading cards, at

And the world premiere of Thor will be held in Australia on Sunday 17 April. You can read a short article here.

There is a short interview with Kenneth here. There are two new Thor posters, and there are four great new photos of KB in director mode on Thor.

And, changing route, with a look into the past and Hamlet, you can read an article, by Ken-Friend Ilaria, here.

I have a few more non-Thor items, but it will have to be another day (tomorrow if all goes well).
(20 March, thanks Carole, Lyn, Emma, Ilaria)

Kenners! New news again! From Variety, 3 March:

Branagh Directing; Nonfiction Book Centers on 1930s Powerhouse Rowing Team
By Rachel Abrams

The Weinstein Company has acquired film rights to "The Boys in the Boat," a nonfiction book proposal to be written by Daniel James Brown.
Kenneth Branagh will direct. The actor/helmer just wrapped production on "Thor" for Paramount. TWC production prexy Donna Gigliotti will produce with Judy Hofflund exec producing.
Book, set in the 1930s, centers around the U of Washington's powerhouse rowing team. Sources describe the project as a cross between "Seabiscuit" and "Chariots of Fire."
"The Boys in The Boat is an epic," Branagh said in a statement. "I was completely captivated by the characters, the era, and the dreams of a generation unfolding beautifully and dramatically."

It appears the book has not been written yet, though I assume a big cheque will speed things along... so no clear date announced at this time.

Here is a fun bit from a longer article about a certain Ellen Gray's relationship with PBS:

[...]  Beyond cable mission creep, here are a few of the other reasons I'll happily defend PBS until they pry the remote out of my cold, dead hands:

Kenneth Branagh. Look, we all have needs, and one of mine is to be able to see Branagh on my TV every so often.

PBS's Masterpiece, which has reclaimed its position as one of the most consistently dependable sources of excellent drama on television, met that need with six episodes of Wallander, Branagh's take on Swedish mystery writer Henning Mankell's melancholy detective.

If a commercial network were to hire Branagh, he'd probably have to sound American.

It wouldn't be the same.  [...]

Not only did Kenneth host the Shorts! event (featuring the Oscar-nominated films in the Animated and Live Action Short Film categories), he also received an award:

"Shorts International handed out several Visionary Awards, recognizing those individuals that embrace the medium's reputation for bucking the trend and contributing their considerable talents to innovative short movies that embody the category's best qualities. This year's recipients were "Visionary Actress" Melissa Leo; "Visionary Director" Kenneth Branagh and "Visionary Leader" June Foray".
You can see photos from the reception here. And there is a short account of the event here.

There is a new Thor poster here, and a banner here. The French Thor website is here, with a trailer with a few extra "scenes" (moments)(see Bande-annonce).

There is a nice photo with KB and part of the Thor cast, here and on the splash page (the ol' Compendium still has one of those :-)).

There is more and I will be back soon!
(9 March, thanks Jude, Emma, Robina)

Greetings Branaghiacs! There is now a Painkiller page... with not much on it, but I did manage to find another wee article, which you can read here.

There is a nice interview about Thor here, with a tiny hint that KB might be "in" Thor in some not-on-the-screen way. We've had voice-overs and newsreel announcers - yours to speculate what it might be this time.

There is also a fantastic new Thor trailer!

Roger Ebert posted a long review of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein from a Brazilian correspodent to the Chicago Sun-Times. Read it here, and the watch the film again. The original article (linked on the page) is loaded with screen caps - worth looking at. They will find their way here at some point.

And, the best for last, a lovely online interview with Kenneth, about the short films nominated at the Shorts! The 2010 Animated and Live Action Short Film event he hosted. I had the good fortune to see 'The Crush' at our local Irish film festival last year - it's wonderful that it has travelled so far.

That's it for today. There has been some housecleaning (which is never noticeable except to me, hahaha), with lots more to do, but also more news soon, I hope.
(20 February, thanks Caroline, Emma, Jude)

Kenians! We're back into when it rains it pours territory, and no complaints about that! (Except that there is never enough time, but that's the usual old refrain...). So just a few quick things:

There is another article announcing The Painkiller. Tickets are now on sale, this is the link for purchasing them online.

Meanwhile, at the other end of another continent, Kenneth has another gig, details on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website:

Actor, writer, director, producer and four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh will host "Shorts!" Branagh earned a nomination in the Live Action Short Film category for "Swan Song" (1992).

Oscar Week kicks off with “Shorts!,” featuring screenings of all the Oscar-nominated films in the Animated and Live Action Short Film categories, plus an onstage discussion with the filmmakers (schedules permitting). This popular event began in 1997 and has sold out every year since then.

Tickets will be available starting 1 February.

And a photo finish: KB at the Producers Guild Awards this past weekend.

There will be more!
(25 January, thanks Isabel, Emma, Carole)

Woo hoo! A proper update coming soon, but for today: GOOOOOOOOOOD NEWS!!!!!!

Kenneth Branagh Stars in Lyric Belfast’s Reopening Season

The Stage, 20 January 2011
By Alistair Smith

Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon are to star in the reopening season at the Lyric Theatre Belfast in new comedy 'The Painkiller'.

The play, which is by Francis Veber in a new adaptation by Sean Foley, will be produced by Branagh and Foley and will open on September 29, 2011. It is one of the highlights of the Lyric’s first season its new £18.1 million home.

Branagh and Foley first collaborated in 2001, with Hamish McColl, when their production of The Play What I Wrote won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy after its West End run.

Branagh said: “The Painkiller is a remarkable play. Sean Foley, the director, is a fantastic talent, familiar to Belfast audiences. When he showed me his modern adaptation of Francis Veber’s farce, I knew I wanted to be involved. It’s also a particular thrill to partner on stage with the brilliant Rob Brydon.

“I was lucky enough to begin my career with Graham Reid’s ‘Billy', in my home town of Belfast, exactly 30 years ago. I feel equally lucky to be back, and at the Lyric.”

I'm thinking the Ken-Friends will give tourism a wee boost during the run of the play (23 September to 16 October, includes previews).

I'll be back with more catch up (once I come back down to earth).
(20 January, thanks Jude, KB)

Greetings Kenners! A bit of catch up...

First the really good stuff: you can listen to a podcast of the complete 90 minute Times Talk with Kenneth, from 7 May 2009, here.

And then, a bunch more Thor articles: Comments from Stellan Skarsgard; Major THOR Spoilers Revealed!; THOR Spoilers Strike!; Kenneth Branagh Talks Thor, Says There Will Be "Nods" To Captain America; Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston on Fighting in Marvel's 'Thor'.

And two more photos from Comic-Con 2010.

There is more, and I'll be back!
(17 January, thanks Jude)

Okay - I should never promise to be back soon, it's a guarantee that it will not be so...

So... Happy New Year! (Where did the time go?!). There are a number of articles to catch up with, I'll just get a couple up today (and be back at some point within the year, hahahaha).

First, in oldish and ho-hum news White Supremacists Boycott 'Thor' Due to Skin Color Issue. Knock yourselves out, guys. And a newer article: Kenneth Branagh & Anthony Hopkins on THOR!.

The July to December 2010 news has moved to the New & Notes Archive.

You might have noticed a new photo on the splash page - a bigger version is here.

More to come...
(6 January, thanks Gina)