Kenneth Branagh Says Anthony Hopkins Inspired Him to Play Lawrence Olivier

Yahoo News, 5 May 2011
By Sandy Cohen

After 30 years in film as an actor and director, Kenneth Branagh is right where he should be.

As his latest directorial effort, "Thor," hits theatres Friday, the 50-year-old Branagh said his experience on both sides of the camera is lining up perfectly with his appetite, which inspires a new enthusiasm for each craft.

"It's like returning to when I was 16 and first did a school play and thought, 'Oh, this is what I should do. This is what I'm supposed to do,'" he said from a hotel suite where he was promoting the Marvel movie.

"Somehow I feel as though, at least for this little tiny moment in my life perhaps, I've landed back in some moment where I feel, if nothing else, it's right what I'm doing. For me," he said.

Branagh commanded a cast that included Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins in "Thor," a superhero epic that spans planets and otherworldly realms. Then, while editing and putting the finishing touches on the film, he stole away to play Lawrence Olivier opposite Michelle Williams' Marilyn Monroe in the indie flick "My Week With Marilyn."

Playing such a weighty role during "Thor" post-production "was something of a stretch, I have to tell you," Branagh said.

But Branagh said he delighted in the experience.

"I ran at it with a relish for acting which was borne out of partly, literally seeing Tony Hopkins at work, and the others, but also talking to Tony, who had worked with Olivier himself," Branagh said. "(He) knew him well, and had many war stories, many intimate observations of the way Olivier was, and that to some extent gave me the confidence to try and do it."

Branagh says that when he sees actors performing at their peak, he wants to act, and when he sees directors do beautiful work, he yearns to direct: "I realize now I have a lot of experience in both, and it's exciting to try and use it."

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