News Archive: January 2013 - June 2013

Hi Kenners! A few updates. First, a great new photo and article related to Macbeth, which has its first preview this Wednesday, 3 July. There are also a couple of small articles from the Manchester Evening News (in which I've corrected all the typos and errors instead of writing [sic], hahaha) : here and here.

There is a digital project for Manchester being created in collaboration with Bruntwood and the Manchester International Festival. There will be the chance to win a pair of tickets for Macbeth. Click here for information and links.

The National Theatre Live series will be showing Macbeth in cinemas in the UK on 20 July. You can read a short article here. The website lists some locations in the United States for October and November, but so far none for Canada. Bah.

In other news... Casting continues for Cinderella with the addition of Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as the wicked step-sisters, and (cue memory lane) Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. The current release date for this movie is 13 March 2015. Finally, there was a short article with the good news that Patrick Doyle will be scoring the film.

So The Magic Flute was shown in many cinemas across the United States on 9 June. You can watch the live Q & A which Kenneth did for the occcasion here. There are also a couple of articles: here and here.

And finally, a nice little article on the launch of the Windsor Fringe Festival 2013, in particular the Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing. There's a fun photo linked in the article.

And that is it for today, and possibly for a little while since I am one of the extremely lucky duckies who will be seeing Macbeth in Manchester. I will be away from this virtual desk when the first reviews hit (I don't think I will have the patience for updates on the tablet :-)), so apologies ahead of time.

Till mid-July!
(30 June, thanks Renie, Carla, Emma, Jude)

Hey Kenians - very quick, just posted today : the MIF has 'liberated' about 100 extra tickets to various performances of Macbeth. They go on sale tomorrow - Thursday 13 June - at noon UK time. You can get information here.

As well, there will be a special fundraiser closing performance of Macbeth on 21 July. You pay a bit more but get a glass of champers and a signed program, on top of seeing the brilliant Mr. B. Information at the link above.

Good luck to all who try for tickets!
(12 June, thanks Maggie, Jane, Renie, Jude)

Back with two quick things: the full cast list for Macbeth has been announced. Here it is from the MIF Macbeth site:

The full cast is announced today for this interpretation of Shakespeare’s tragedy at Manchester International Festival 2013.

Alongside Kenneth Branagh in the title role and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, former Royal Shakespeare Company members Jimmy Yuill and John Shrapnel will play Banquo and Duncan.

Alexander Vlahos (Mordred in BBC’s Merlin) will play Malcolm, Norman Bowman (Finding Neverland; Guys & Dolls West End) will play Ross, Ray Fearon (Coronation Street; RSC Othello) will play Macduff and Rosalie Craig (NT Shed Table; Finding Neverland) will play Lady Macduff.

The weird sisters will be played by Laura Elsworthy (The Kitchen Sink), Anjana Vasan (RSC Much Ado About Nothing) and Charlie Cameron (The Addicted).

The cast also includes: Andy Apollo, David Annen, Elliot Balchin, Nari Blair, Steven Cree, Jordan Dean, Patrick Neil Doyle, Pip Pearce, Cody Green, Daniel Ings, Harry Lister-Smith, Stuart Neal, Harry Polden, Dominic Thornburn, Katie West and Benny Young.

Tickets are still available for the Macbeth Big Screen Relay on Sat 20 July.

And if you don't have a ticket for Macbeth and are an over-18 resident of the UK you can possible win a set of two tickets by way of the Guardian: click here for details and to enter.

If you are in Los Angeles on 2 June you'll have a rare opportunity to see Ken's Hamlet on the big screen (apparently in 70 mm) at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre as part of "Much Ado About Shakespeare: The Bard on Film". Info here.

And that's all for now!
(25 May)

Gaack! It's been a month! (Where does the time go, etc.) Thankfully there has not been a whole lot of new news, but I keep finding old items on the virtual desk.

In new news (for this site, but announced a couple of weeks ago), Cinderella and Prince Charming have been cast for the "live-action" Cinderella which Kenneth will direct. You can read an article which reveals the names of both, here.

Great news relating to an older film: The Magic Flute will be shown - finally - in cinemas in the United States. Unfortunately in a limited fashion, but if you happen to live in the right place and are free at the right time you can watch it on the big screen. Here is a blurb from a release (which you can find here with the list of theatres showing the film):

Continuing our tradition of offering exclusive and interactive filmmaker Q&As to arthouses across the country, this June we’re bringing multiple Oscar-nominated actor and director Kenneth Branagh into Emerging affiliated theatres via live webcast to mark the U.S. theatrical premiere of his film 'The Magic Flute'. This lost gem, which premiered at the Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals and had limited overseas runs, finally gets its overdue big-screen presentation stateside on Sunday, June 9th exclusively in participating Emerging locations. The premiere screening (at 3 pm ET/12pm PT) will be followed by a live webcast conversation with the director, Kenneth Branagh. Through Twitter, audiences everywhere will be encouraged to send him questions in real time.
You can also read an article from the Los Angeles Times about this event here.

Good works dept. - new: Kenneth is one of four actors who donated their services for Orchid Classics' CD featuring children's poetry together with pieces of classical music, in aid of the Lenny Trusler Children's Foundation. He reads The Duck and The Kangaroo by Edward Lear. The CD will be released in the UK on 3 June 2013. You can read the press release here and read the poem here.

Picking up an older article, missed at the time... from the late, great Roger Ebert, an article and interview from the Sleuth premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007: here.

Moving into Idle Speculation territory, here is a snippet from a longer column in the Telegraph, 9 May 2013:

Now Branagh has his eye on Olivier’s crown

Another day, another significant player in the theatre world signals that he will not be applying for Sir Nicholas Hytner’s job as the boss of the National Theatre.

“It’s not my turn yet,” says the self-deprecating Jamie Lloyd, who, after his success with James McAvoy in the title role of Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios, has just unveiled his production of Harold Pinter’s The Hothouse with Simon Russell Beale. “Maybe next time.”

The clever money now is on Sir Kenneth Branagh taking over the theatre. “There has been a discussion,” says my man at the giant carbuncle on the South Bank. “We were not turned away.”

The fact the National’s founding artistic director was Lord Olivier is unlikely to be lost on Sir Kenneth. Anyone who saw the actor in My Week With Marilyn will know how instinctive his empathy is with the great man.

On Wednesday, I disclosed how Danny Boyle, another favourite for the job, was not interested.

Are the bookies involved yet?   :-)

And from the What They Are Saying desk, from a longer interview with Simon Russell Beale:

‘When Ken Branagh was appearing as Hamlet at Stratford, he already had a big film and TV career under his belt. I went for a drink one day at The Dirty Duck and Pam, the legendary landlady, said to me: “Can you ask Ken why we never see him in here any more?”

‘So, the next day, I went in to his dressing room and said: “Pam, who you do not disobey, wants you to come to the pub.” He looked stricken. “But I can’t,” he said. “I’d walk in and I wouldn’t be able to get to the bar because I’d be stopped so often.” I wouldn’t want that level of fame.’

Finally, in January (I did say I was behind) Ken was on the Graham Norton show - much fun was had, as you might imagine. You can see official clips here (and, undoubtedly, unofficial ones on Youtube). There are also a few photos here. (With a small reminder that you can see a LOT of wonderful photos at The Kenneth Branagh Network).

That's all for now!
(20 May, thanks Nancy, Patricia, Jude, Vee)

2B-ers! Very quick to let you know that Ken has his Lady Macbeth! She will be played by Alex Kingston, whom you will know variously from 'Moll Flanders', 'ER', 'Dr. Who' and lots of other film and television work. You can read the first article to announce the news here.

More soon!
(21 April, thanks Jude, Patrizia)

Greetings Ken-keeners! Fun stuff happened this week: Kenneth presented an honorary Bafta Award to Queen Elizabeth on Thursday. You can read a couple of articles about the event here and here; there are a few photos here, and there is a lovely video here.

And if you want to know what Her Majesty said to Kenneth, Contact Music can tell us:
Sir Kenneth Branagh - The Things They Say: 3588121, 5 April 2013

"She said she had often seen these presented, and it was a thrill. She was amazed at how bright and polished it was and also how heavy it was." Sir Kenneth Branagh reveals Queen Elizabeth II was thrilled after he handed her an honorary British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award on Thursday (04Apr13) in recognition of her support for the industry.

It's been mostly quiet otherwise. It seems confirmed that Ken will direct Cinderella although we passed from "in talks to direct" to "will direct" without any real announcement article. Then there were innumerable articles speculating that Emma Watson would be taking the Cinderella role, but now we have a new article, suggesting three new names. We'll see where it goes from here...

Here are a few older things I found scattered on the virtual desk:

From an article from 17 February 2013 about the actress Karen David:

What else will we see you in?

I have a cameo in the new 'Jack Ryan' movie, which comes out later this year. I play FBI Agent Penn, a Michelle Rodriguez, tom boy, kind of character. Working with Kenneth Branagh was an amazing experience – a real actor’s director and probably the best masterclass in acting I’ve had! His attention to detail is impeccable. To prepare for my role, they put me through firearms weapons training for my scenes, which was, (pardon the pun, but there’s no other way of saying it), a mind blowing experience and one that I will never forget!

And this, from an article from 21 February 2013 about the Oscar Wilde: Honouring the Irish in Film event, held in Hollywood before the Oscars:
One of the reasons Spielberg turned up last year was the party's reputation for craic – unlike the plethora of formal, rictus-smile events around Oscar week that many feel obliged to attend. There is live music, whiskey and jokey ceremonies where non-Celts such as Abrams and Michelle Williams are declared honorary Irish. Speeches by Kenneth Branagh and the screenwriter John Logan brought the house down last year.
And then there's this, from an article from 12 September 2012:
A Monmouthshire film director, who was mentored by screen legend Sir Kenneth Branagh, has had his film nominated for a Welsh Bafta. Keri Collins’ short film 'Funday' is one of three to be shortlisted in the short form and animation category for the British Academy Cymru Awards.[...]

[...] The film-maker also received a message of congratulations from Branagh for his debut feature film 'Convenience', which he has just finished filming in Swansea. 'Convenience' stars Bafta winner Vicky McClure, Ray Panthaki, Adeel Akhtar and Austin Powers’ Verne Troyer. It even has a guest appearance by Mr Collin’s youngest son Charlie, when he was six weeks old.

The film is due to be finished by the end of the month and Mr Collins said he hopes his mentor will be able to make the premiere.

Written by Nicholas Horwood, 'Funday' is a comedy drama about a clown called Alan. The £500 self-funded short film had its premier last September at the Raindance Film Festival.

Mr Collins, 33, said: “That was a huge achievement and now a year later it’s up for a Bafta. It’s so nice for such a little film.” He said he was inspired by actor and film director Sir Kenneth Branagh, who became his mentor though the Guiding Lights scheme in 2008.

“I didn’t see him alot but I had a lot of e-mail contact with him. He read a lot of my scripts and gave me feedback,” he said.

Mr Collins was also invited to America to the set of the film Thor, which Sir Kenneth was directing. He said: “Being on the set of Thor, seeing how he directs actors, was really incredible. That was what I took most from him.

“It got me to do things with more ambition. Even though we hadn’t got the money of 'Thor', there were ways of doing 'Funday' ambitiously and giving more layers and style.”

More bits and bobs...

You can click here to see Ken's 10 choices for the Greatest Films Poll, with his comments, on the British Fim Institute website.

In December Kenneth read a poem on the BBC in honour of 'Sports Personality of the Year' 2012 - you can listen to it here.

And finally, a blast from the past: a newspaper article written about the Sundance Festival and In the Bleak Midwinter in January 1996, reposted by the author on his blog.

That's it for the moment!
(7 April, thanks, Stancy, Patricia, Jude)

Hello Kenians, a bit of catch-up. There have been a few articles related to the programme launch of the Manchester International Festival and you can read them here; here; here; and here.

There was also this snippet from a longer article:

Yesterday Kenneth Branagh was thanking Manchester – saying that he felt he had “come of age” the previous time he had performed Shakespeare in the city 25 years ago, the audience being so “generous, quick-witted and lively". He also thanked the city for having the determination and audacity, in the face of gloom and cuts, at the launch of its adventurous festival, to back to the hilt a biennial world-class arts extravaganza, which, among many notable headline acts has Branagh as lead in Macbeth (directed by Branagh and Emmy and Tony award-winning Rob Ashcroft). Tickets will be gold dust, but a big screen on the last night will enable an audience of 5,000 to view it.
There were two associated photos with Kenneth and you can see them here.

On a sad note, Richard Briers passed away on 17 February. From the press:

Sir Kenneth Branagh, who gave Briers a new lease of life in his later career in films such as Henry V, Peter’s Friends, Much Ado About Nothing and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: “Richard was a national treasure, a great actor and a wonderful man.

"He was greatly loved and will be deeply missed.”

John Sessions gave an interview to the Independent shortly after and here is a pertinent quote:
One way and another, it will be an emotional week for Sessions, who is mourning the loss of his friend Richard Briers. Rehearsal schedule permitting, he will be at this week's funeral. "I got the news on Monday night when I got home and turned on the computer. 'Richard Briers is dead.' It was a horrible way to find out." It was, "funnily enough", Sessions whom "Dickie" had to thank for his stage career taking off. Sessions was the link between Briers and Kenneth Branagh, who came to watch a play the pair were both in. "Ken came down to Chichester to see me [the two are chums from Rada days] and saw Dickie. Within a year or so, Dickie was playing Malvolio in Ken's Twelfth Night, and then he was in Much Ado. He was Bardolph in Henry V, and Polonius in Hamlet. So he did an awful lot with Ken."
A couple of excerpts from articles on the funeral:
Many of the mourners wrote tributes in a Book of Remembrance. Branagh wrote: “We love you, darling man. Thank you for being.”[...]

Speaking after the funeral, Branagh – who directed Briers in his 1997 production of Hamlet – said: “It was a beautiful service. I think Richard would have thought it was wonderful.”

You can see a tiny photo of Ken and Lindsay at the memorial here.

That's it for the moment.
(10 March, thanks Jude, Emma)

Greetings! Very quick - a new photo (oh, most promising!) has appeared on the Manchester International Festival website. You can also see it on the Macbeth page.

There will be a "one-off live relay [of the play] on a big screen in central Manchester" on 20 July at 8:30 pm. You can read about it and get tickets by checking out the MIF brochure here. I will post more information next time.

(28 February, thanks Isabel, Paula, Jude)

Hi Kenners, a quick sign of life.

The tickets for Macbeth sold out in not all that many minutes. I hope some of you were lucky. The festival posted this in their news section:

Tickets for the first three shows announced as part of MIF13 went on general sale today, and we are pleased that these events all experienced a high level of demand, with The xx In Residence and Macbeth selling out extremely quickly. We fully appreciate that some people may be disappointed that they have been unable to book tickets for these events. It is inevitable that due to demand, not everyone who wished to book today was able to.

Manchester International Festival supports artists to realise their vision. In collaborating with Kenneth Branagh on Macbeth, and The xx for their residency, we are working with artists whose visions depend upon creating an intimate atmosphere for smaller audiences. We are working closely with the creative team to find ways of bringing Macbeth to more people in Manchester during the Festival period.

Not sure what that means (perhaps nothing). Not extra tickets, I assume.

In other news... there is a no, in that Kenneth will not be directing the film version of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book. You can read about that here. And there is a maybe, in that Kenneth may be directing a new Disney film of Cinderella. You can read about that here.

The Birmingham Rep is celebrating its 100th birthday and Kenneth has said some nice words which you can read here.

Ongoing projects: there is a new article about Jack Ryan.

And finally, Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Kenneth Branagh, a nice reminder, although by no means everything.   :-)

That's it for today.
(17 February, thanks Jude, Toni, Pierpaolo, Jules)

Hi Kenians, more catch up...

First things first - there is now a Macbeth page (not being an actor, and not sitting in a theatre as it's written, the Compendium can use the actual title :-) ).

Oye, oye - the tickets go on sale for Manchester International Festival members on Thursday 31 January, and for the general public on Friday 1 February. There is a limit of 2 tickets per person. You can find the dates of performances on the Manchester International Festival website. Best of luck with your purchase!

Some comments collected lately from the "what they're saying" department:

From a longer interview with Richard Briers, 17 October 2012 :

You've been acting for 50 years now. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
Not really. I've always been one of the few lucky ones. I've always had an enormous amount of work. And of course, as you probably know, I suddenly stumbled into Kenneth Branagh and started doing all the Shakespeare stuff. The posh stuff. That was rather nice. It changed my entire life.

How did you meet Branagh? You've worked with him an awful lot.
Well, my daughter, Lucy Briers, adored him when she was a student, and used to follow him around and be very helpful to him. And then he went and did his season in Stratford and he did Henry V. And my daughter just adored him. She said: "Come and have a chat with him. He must remember you from The Good Life." We both went round to the stage door, had a very nice chat and from that came Malvolio in Twelfth Night in Hammersmith.

Were you disappointed that he didn't find a part for you in Thor?
I don't think there was anything there for me, really.

I don't know. You'd look quite good in a big helmet and a Nordic waistcoat.
Dressed up as some old ninny. Some extraordinary creature. But, no, he didn't ask. I'm rather hurt, actually.

From a longer interview with Keira Knightley, 19 September 2012 :
Keira Knightley has opened up about her role playing the title character's wife in the upcoming Jack Ryan. The Pirates of the Caribbean star revealed that the opportunity to work with her "hero" Kenneth Branagh is what attracted her to the project.

She told Collider: "I'm working with Kenneth Branagh who has been a hero of mine since I was about 6 or 7. Getting to be directed by him and act with him is something that I just thought, 'I want to do that'."

Knightley, who has not appeared in a Hollywood action film since the third entry in the Pirates series, also said that she felt it was time she made a Hollywood thriller. "I thought, 'I think I'd quite like to do something that's just entertainment'," she said. "Not just entertainment, but entertainment in that kind of Hollywood sort of run-around with explosions [vein].

"I've always loved thrillers. Thrillers are incredibly difficult to do which is why there's so few of them made now, and [the Jack Ryan films] have always been really good thrillers, so I sort of fancied that."

And an earlier variation on the theme with Keira Knightley, 13 September 2012 :
During the promotion of her latest film 'Anna Karenina' at the Toronto International Film Festival, Knightley discussed her motivation to get involved with Jack Ryan:

"I realized I'd spent five years doing films where I die at the end, and thought I should do something positive... It's pure entertainment. It's something I haven't done for a long time. This is running around a lot, but it's Ken Branagh, who's directing it, and playing the baddie.

"He's one of the main reasons I wanted to be an actress, I was so obsessed with his 'Henry V,' 'Much Ado About Nothing,' and 'Hamlet,' so the chance of working with him [was what drew me to the project], even though it's something that's nothing like that. He's also one of the most phenomenal stage actors I've ever seen, so I sort of just want to have a look at him."

From an article in The Independent, 12 August 2012, looking back and celebrating the Olympics :
Beyond our Ken?

After Wallander, we already knew he could do no wrong, but Kenneth Branagh won the Games's first gold as a late replacement for Mark Rylance, who was forced to withdraw from the opening ceremony following a bereavement. In the guise of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Belfast-born actor rose to the occasion magnificently, as he declaimed the keynote lines from 'The Tempest' that inspired the whole show: "Be not afear'd/The isle is full of noises..."

From a longer interview with Clark Gregg, 15 September 2012 :
Of course, having appeared in all the different Marvel movies so far, you’ve had an experience of a range of different directors. How do the directors compare?

"It’s funny, I always am aware of how completely different each one of them is and, at the same time, how there’s a similarity, kind of a thread. I thought Kenneth Branagh couldn’t be any more different than Jon Favreau [laughs]. You know, one guy’s from Queens, and the other guy, you know, is friends with the Queen. But as soon as I got on the set of 'Thor', I realised how similar they were. They both have this real passion and vision for the story, from very different angles. They’re both actors who really like actors and love to direct actors in a way that kind of brings actors to life. And they’re both really funny. I kind of felt like they were, you know, cousins from across the pond."

As well, a bit of catch up with articles: three relating to a set visit for Jack Ryan, not entirely dissimilar (but we do try to cover all the territory): Set Visit Preview: Kenneth Branagh Promises ‘Jack Ryan’ Will Have No Dutch Angles, Why Reboot Jack Ryan? and Preview: CS Visits the Set of Jack Ryan.

There is a new "old" interview with Ken regarding Thor which you can can watch here.

And finally, you can read a review of Kenneth's reading of The Man With the Golden Gun.

I hope to be back soon.
(26 January, thanks Trisha)

Happy New Year Ken-fans! I have taken advantage of a few extra days of holiday to tie up loose threads on the Comepndium and try to catch up. You'll see that the News & Notes from July to December 2012 has moved to the News & Notes Archive.

There is finally a "Jack Ryan" page (I'm going to have a fit when they finally actually reveal the title of the movie and it's some big long unrelated name). To date there have been more photos of the filming than articles or information about this project. Here are the three latest: Hollywood Comes to Hatfield | Hollywood Stars Kenneth Branagh and Chris Pine Film New Blockbuster Movie in Birkenhead and Kenneth Branagh and Chris Pine Bring Liverpool's Strand to Standstill With Dramatic Car Chase Filming.   You can see the latest gallery here.  And there is a special treat: NBC's Today Show aired a "behind the scenes of new Jack Ryan film" segment and you can see it here.

There are a cartload of articles, most of which emerged from the shuffle on the virtual desk (a.k.a. not terribly new)...

Regarding Wallander: Kenneth Branagh Still Figuring Out 'Wallander' | Wallander: Nordic Noir, Minus the Stieg Larsson Melodrama | Kenneth Branagh Revisits Nordic Noir as Somber Detective Kurt Wallander | Kenneth Branagh Brings ‘Wallander III’ to Life | Branagh Holds Off on Swedish Accent | Kenneth Branagh’s Wallander Leads Brooding Scandinavian Sleuths and Kenneth Branagh Returns to Wallander. There is also a special treat in this group: a video greeting recorded by Kenneth Branagh on the occasion of a crew screening of The Dogs of Riga.

There are a couple of reviews of Stars in Shorts, the gathering of short films featuring The Prodigal, which Kenneth was in (I will gather all the bits on this together at some point). Review 1 and review 2.

And there are a number of others: Sir Kenneth Branagh Speaks to NICVA on His Knighthood | Kenneth Branagh Supports Earth-friendly Charity and Branagh's Film Legacy Honoured.   I think I've listed them all, but you will find them all (with a small "new" sign) in the Reading Room.

Finally, for today (it's not the last thing I have but if I sit doing this a moment longer I'll atrophy :-) ), you can hear a wonderful long BBC2 interview with Ken, in two parts, here - Part 1 and here - Part 2.

I will be back soon with the things I had to leave out today!
(4 January, thanks Jude, Emma, Paula, Toni, Tediousoldfools)