Kenneth Branagh Takes a Break
Entertainment Online, January
by Jeff Hayward
Kenneth Branagh has taken a break
from directing and returned to acting, with a role in Robert
Altman's thriller The Gingerbread Man.
The film, in which he plays a
southern lawyer, has just opened in America. His last directing
job was Hamlet in 1996. He says: "At the end of Hamlet I
was just pooped." The film ran for four hours, after all
- a trial for cast and audiences alike. "It's great to be
just a freelance actor again."
Belfast-born Branagh has ideas
for films he wants to direct, but there is nothing in the pipeline.
He says: "There's nothing that is leaping strongly enough
to the forefront of my mind.
"Certainly nothing that
would make me want to cope with the prospect of 12 to 18 months
of ongoing anxiety."
He has directed four movies and
says it's a draining job.
The Gingerbread Man (due for
UK release in May) was a battlefield of egos, he says, after
witnessing the power struggle between Altman and the Polygram
Polygram temporarily took control
of the movie from the maverick, award- winning director during
the post-production process. Altman finally wrested back control.
The clash between director and
studio riveted Hollywood - and Branagh.
Polygram was not at all happy
with Altman's darker version of the movie, adapted from the book
by John Grisham.
Branagh, adept at avoiding controversy,
says: "The strange thing about this power struggle is that
it sprang from a strong belief in the movie on both sides.
"Altman brings an unsettling,
strange atmosphere to the film - it's exciting to watch."
Branagh's Memphis lawyer is hired
by a southern woman to prevent her estranged husband from stalking
Branagh's future film projects
include Woody Allen's as-yet-untitled new movie, co-starring
Leonardo DiCaprio and Winona Ryder. Then he will be seen in the
melodrama The Proposition with Madeleine Stowe.
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