Kenneth Branagh is a British actor and director.
He is probably most widely known for his film versions of Shakespeare's plays, which include Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996), Loves Labours Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). Branagh adapted and directed all five, and starred in all but As You Like It. Hamlet is notable for including the whole play, running slightly over four hours.
Other films in which Branagh has directed himself include Dead Again, Peter's Friends, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Films in which other people have directed Branagh include Barry Sonnenfeld's Wild Wild West, Phillip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence, Chris Columbus's Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, Woody Allen's Celebrity, Oliver Parker's Othello, and Simon Curtis's My Week with Marilyn. (Oh, and DreamWorks's The Road to El Dorado.)
Tropes associated with Kenneth Branagh include:
- Black Vikings: Practically a trademark of his style. In Much Ado About Nothing, he cast Denzel Washington as the Prince of Castile; in Thor, it was Idris Elba as the Norse god Heimdall; and in Hamlet, there was a black soldier in the Swedish army.
- Common Knowledge: A lot of people assume Branagh directed Othello, since it's the only Shakespeare adaptation he's starred in that he didn't direct.
- Fake American: Fairly convincingly, in Celebrity and Dead Again; somewhat less so in Wild Wild West.
- Large Ham
- Production Posse: Branagh's posse includes Brian Blessed, Richard Briers, Derek Jacobi, Jimmy Yuill and (while they were married) Emma Thompson, as well as composer Patrick Doyle.
- Promoted Fanboy: Branagh, reportedly, is a big-time Thor geek, and has been since childhood. One suspects his ear for Shakespeare was honed by the faux-Elizabethan dialogue of Marvel's Asgardians.
- Real Life Relative: Branagh was married to Emma Thompson from 1989 to 1995. Count how many of his films feature her as his wife or love interest during that period. Interestingly, his one role in Harry Potter (Chamber of Secrets) was right before her debut (Prisoner of Azkaban).
- He was also with Helena Bonham Carter from 1995 to 1999 (they supposedly first got together when working on Frankenstein in 1994) and subsequently cast her as well.
- Race Lift: He casts actors so blindly of their race that one suspects it's a deliberate habit.
- Walk and Talk: He did it first.
References to Kenneth Branagh in fiction:
- In Blackadder Back and Forth, a time-travelling Blackadder meets William Shakespeare and beats him up in retribution for providing the tools with which centuries of students have been tormented. He adds an extra blow specifically for "Ken Branagh's endless, uncut, four-hour version of Hamlet".
Shakespeare: Who's Ken Branagh?