Baz Bamigboye: Judi Dench Takes the Gran Prize in Kenneth Branagh's New Film

Daily Mail, 3 September 2020
By Baz Bamigboye

Kenneth Branagh is shooting a semi-autobiographical film inspired by his early childhood growing up in Northern Ireland surrounded by a large extended family.

And I can reveal that Judi Dench will portray his grandmother.

Ciaran Hinds plays Branagh’s grandfather. Dublin-born Outlander star Caitriona Balfe and Northern Ireland native Jamie Dornan (of The Fall and Fifty Shades fame) have been cast as Branagh’s parents.

Jude Hill has been chosen to play the young boy based on Branagh during his early years in Belfast amid the tumult of the late-1960s.

The film is not a straightforward biography of Branagh’s childhood, so at present Hill’s character isn’t called Kenneth. It is an ensemble piece.

The movie, called 'Belfast' (the actor was born in the north of the city), has started shooting, quietly, on locations in England; though there are plans for some scenes to be filmed in his home town.

Branagh has often spoken of the city that ‘shaped’ him, recalling how his parents, Frances and William, were related to half of Belfast ‘and I went to school with the other half’.

He visited his grandparents twice a week and, at the age of nine, felt the wrench when his dad, a joiner, and mum, who worked in a chip shop, moved to Reading, Berkshire, to escape The Troubles.

The award-winning director described the film, in the Belfast Telegraph, as a ‘very personal movie about a place and people I love’.

His 'Death On The Nile', in which he stars as Hercule Poirot — and also directs — is due for release this autumn.

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