Branagh Stole My Ideas For Shakespeare Movie of 'Much Ado About Nothing', Says Dame Judi
Dame Judi claims that Branagh stole her ideas for film version of a play; He directed Much Ado About Nothing five years later, which became a huge box office hit; Dame Judi also claims she does not like the experience of directing

Daily Mail, 11 April 2014
By Simon Cable

They are two of our most celebrated actors, notably for their Shakespearean roles. But it seems that Dame Judi Dench and Sir Kenneth Branagh haven’t always seen eye-to-eye over the Bard.

The 79-year-old actress has teased Sir Kenneth, 53, for refusing to take her advice when she was directing a stage version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' in which he appeared. She also claims that the actor and director stole her ideas for a film version of the play, which he directed five years later and which became a huge box office hit.

Dame Judi made her debut as a director in 1988 while working for Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company, which was touring Britain. She directed a version of 'Much Ado About Nothing', which was set in the Napoleonic era and starred Sir Kenneth and Samantha Bond as the lead characters Benedick and Beatrice.

However, she recalled: ‘They went to Brighton and I went down to see the show to give them notes if they needed any, which they did, and Ken Branagh left the theatre because he knew I was coming with the notes.’

She added: ‘Ken Branagh, he stole all my ideas for the film.’

The actress, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in 1998 film 'Shakespeare In Love', also revealed that she didn’t enjoy the experience of being a director. Speaking at a fundraising event in London for the Acting For Others charity, Dame Judi recalled her time working for the Renaissance Theatre Company, saying: ‘It was a bit lonely. It’s hideous as the actors gang up against you.’

Sir Kenneth’s film version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' was released in 1993 and starred the actor as Benedick with his then wife Emma Thompson as Beatrice alongside Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves and Kate Beckinsale. It went on to earn more than £20 million in worldwide box office sales, making it one of the most financially successful Shakespeare films ever released.

Sir Kenneth joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at 23 and in 1987 founded The Renaissance Theatre Company. He first found fame in the TV mini-series 'Fortunes Of War' in 1987 before going on to star in 'Henry V' and 'Frankenstein', which he also directed.

He has been nominated for five Oscars and won three Baftas. He was knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2012.

Dame Judi trained as a set designer before making her professional acting debut in 1957 in 'Hamlet' at the Old Vic. She made numerous appearances on stage before taking over the role of M in the James Bond films in 1995.

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