EXCLUSIVE: Watch Cast and Crew Talk About Ken Branagh's Latest Film, Out in Cinemas on February 8
Mirror, 24 January 2018
From Hamlet to Henry V, from Benedick to Berowne, Kenneth Branagh is known for his often captivating leading man performances be they on stage or screen.
And now, he is taking a turn as the Bard behind the characters - William Shakespeare himself - in his latest directorial effort, 'All Is True'.
As our exclusive featurette shows, the transformation is as much physical as it is cerebral.
Of his performance Judi Dench, who plays the role of Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, says of Branagh that he "is more like Shakespeare than anyone I've ever seen playing Shakespeare", and there were many factors that went into making that happen.
"In playing him, one was to stand for many hours in front of the what's called the Chandos portrait," says Branagh.
"Evidence would suggest that's it's - of all the images of Shakespeare we have, it's the nearest account we think we have to how Shakespeare looked.
"I was going to try and provide the inside, and our brilliant make-up team were going to try and provide the outside."
Branagh's resemblance to Shakespeare is uncanny, and that's thanks in no small part to the make-up and prosthetics team behind his look.
Vanessa White, the make-up and hair designer, described the hour-and-a-half daily process. which involved prosthetics and one-use only beards, as a 'dance'.
"One of the things Ken asked me was how quickly could we do this. You just have to get it on right in the morning in that one-and-a-half hours.
"We help each other; I put the beard on, he'll stick one side I'll stick the other side. I help him with the prosthetic, he helps me with the wig, it's just a dance that we do."
There was one noticeable absence from the usual collection of appearance-altering accouterments, however, as Ken Branagh decided to opt for the natural look when it came to a particular facial feature.
"Beyond that quite sort of transformative make-up for the whole look, was the decision not to use contact lenses, to go with my own blue eyes, because I wanted to get two things - the way he looked, but then the way he seemed to feel."
And once the process is complete? "He races off, gets into costume and then he goes and directs."
Although an old hand at simultaneously starring and directing in a film, to be able to find a balance between your two roles is no mean feat, and one which constantly impresses his co-stars.
Kathryn Wilder, who plays William's daughter Judith, says of Branagh on set: ""He has this amazing ability to be completely in character and suddenly just switches out.
"William Shakespeare's just giving you notes."
Ian McKellen, who plays Henry Wriothesley in the film - Shakespeare's patron and oft thought inspiration for several of his sonnets - and no stranger to the world of Shakespeare, having just finished a highly successful run of King Lear in the West End, backs up that notion.
"The curiosity of this is the man sitting opposite you is Ken Branagh, but is also William Shakespeare."
And when it comes to curiosity, we as an audience are equally as curious about the man behind the words.
While we all know of his plays, many are unaware of Shakespeare's life away from the limelight; of his wife and their children, or the personal tragedies they suffered - enter All Is True, front and (stage) centre.
The film is set in 1613, by which time Shakespeare is already acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age.
But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and a devastated Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family.
Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father.
His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.
With a stellar cast and a man at the helm who arguably knows the source material better than most, 'All Is True' looks set to be a film fans of the Bard won't want to miss.
All Is True will be in UK cinemas from February 8.