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Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth BranaghAKA Kenneth Charles Branagh

Born: 10-Dec-1960
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Gender: Male
Religion: Protestant
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor, Film Director

Nationality: Northern Ireland
Executive summary: British thespian

As a child in Northern Ireland, Kenneth Branagh was impressed by Burt Lancaster in The Birdman of Alcatraz. When he was ten years old, the Branaghs moved to England to escape the troubles, and in his new school young Kenneth "played the role" of an English boy, reverting to his Irish accent only at home. He was usually cast in the lead in school plays, and after watching 16-year-old Branagh's performance in a school production of Oh, What A Lovely War, his drama teacher pulled him aside. Branagh expected a word of encouragement or a bit of advice, but instead his teacher took a deep breath, and told him he should consider acting as his life's work.

He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he studied under Jonathan Pryce, and he was working regularly on British television even before graduating. He made his debut on the London stage in Another Country opposite Rupert Everett, winning a Best Newcomer award, then toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company. By his mid-20s Branagh was directing plays, staging them with his own Renaissance Theatre Company, and being acclaimed as London's next Olivier.

In his first film appearance, he starred as D. H. Lawrence in Coming Through. At the age of 28 he wrote his autobiography, Beginning, which struck some observers as a bit cocky, and in his first film as director, he starred as Shakespeare's Henry V. This was a direct challenge to Olivier's legacy, since Sir Lawrence had directed and starred in a critically acclaimed 1944 film of the play, but Branagh's version was just as well-received, and became an art-house hit.

He married Emma Thompson, then best known as a comedian, and took her to Hollywood, where they co-starred in Dead Again, a dark "date movie" that expanded Branagh's fame beyond snooty cinema and into the mainstream. Then, combining his art-house and Hollywood mojo, Branagh filmed another Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing, with an all-star cast, including Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, and Denzel Washington.

After that came Branagh's spin on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which has proven to be the unfortunate turning point in Branagh's career. With an unlikely Robert De Niro as the monster and Branagh as the mad scientist, the film is a thoughtful reimagining of the familiar story, but it bombed at the box office, and Branagh and Thompson divorced shortly thereafter. She has gone on to continued success, but Branagh's career has sputtered ever since.

He now works much more often as an actor than a director, including roles in the second Harry Potter film and Wild Wild West with Will Smith. As a director, his last film to draw more than modest praise and attention was another all-star Shakespeare film, the 1996 Hamlet, but its running time -- more than four hours, start to finish -- kept the film from drawing much business at the box office.

Branagh was romantically linked with actress Helena Bonham Carter for several years, after he had her character memorably decapitated in Frankenstein. Their relationship ended when Branagh was caught dating her friend, Lindsay Brunnock, whom Branaugh has since married.

Father: William Branagh (carpenter, b. 1930)
Mother: Frances Harper (homemaker, b. 1930)
Brother: William Branagh Jr. (b. 1955)
Sister: Joyce Branagh (stage director, b. 1970)
Wife: Emma Thompson (m. 20-Aug-1989, div. Oct-1995)
Girlfriend: Helena Bonham Carter (actress, dated 1994-99)
Girlfriend: Alicia Silverstone (1999, rumored)
Wife: Lindsay Brunnock (dated 1999-2003, m. 24-May-2003)

    High School: Meadway Comprehensive School, Reading
    University: Queen's University Belfast
    Conservatory: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

    British Film Institute Board Member
    Knighthood 2012 (Queen's Birthday Honours)

    All Is True (21-Dec-2018)
    Murder on the Orient Express (3-Nov-2017)
    Cinderella (13-Feb-2015)
    Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (15-Jan-2014)
    Thor (21-Apr-2011)
    Sleuth (30-Aug-2007)
    The Magic Flute (7-Sep-2006)
    As You Like It (1-Sep-2006)
    Love's Labour's Lost (14-Feb-2000)
    Hamlet (25-Dec-1996)
    In the Bleak Midwinter (10-Sep-1995)
    Frankenstein (4-Nov-1994)
    Much Ado About Nothing (7-May-1993)
    Peter's Friends (18-Sep-1992)
    Dead Again (23-Aug-1991)
    Henry V (8-Nov-1989)

    All Is True (21-Dec-2018)
    Murder on the Orient Express (3-Nov-2017)
    Dunkirk (13-Jul-2017)
    Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (15-Jan-2014)
    My Week with Marilyn (9-Oct-2011) · Sir Laurence Olivier
    With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (24-Jul-2010) · Himself
    Pirate Radio (1-Apr-2009) · Sir Alistair Dormandy
    Valkyrie (25-Dec-2008) · Maj. Gen. Henning von Tresckow
    Warm Springs (4-Apr-2005)
    Five Children and It (11-Sep-2004) · Uncle Albert
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (3-Nov-2002) · Gilderoy Lockhart
    Rabbit-Proof Fence (4-Feb-2002) · Mr. Neville
    Shackleton (2-Jan-2002)
    Conspiracy (19-May-2001)
    How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (16-Sep-2000) · Peter McGowan
    The Road to El Dorado (31-Mar-2000) · Miguel [VOICE]
    Love's Labour's Lost (14-Feb-2000) · Berowne
    Wild Wild West (30-Jun-1999) · Dr. Arliss Loveless
    Universal Horror (8-Oct-1998) · Narrator [VOICE]
    The Theory of Flight (11-Sep-1998) · Richard
    Celebrity (7-Sep-1998)
    The Proposition (27-Mar-1998) · Fr. Michael McKinnon
    The Gingerbread Man (23-Jan-1998) · Rick Magruder
    Hamlet (25-Dec-1996)
    Looking for Richard (5-Jul-1996) · Himself
    Othello (15-Dec-1995)
    Anne Frank Remembered (8-Jun-1995) [VOICE]
    Frankenstein (4-Nov-1994)
    Much Ado About Nothing (7-May-1993) · Benedick
    Peter's Friends (18-Sep-1992) · Andrew
    Dead Again (23-Aug-1991) · Roman Strauss
    Henry V (8-Nov-1989) · Henry V
    Look Back in Anger (1989)
    Fortunes of War (11-Oct-1987)
    A Month in the Country (27-Sep-1987) · James Moon
    High Season (Sep-1987) · Rick
    Coming Through (1985)
    To the Lighthouse (23-Mar-1983)

Author of books:
Beginning (1990)

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