Kenneth Branagh Poster

Quotes (18)

  • I feel more Irish than English. I feel freer than British, more visceral, with a love of language. Shot through with fire in some way. That's why I resist being appropriated as the current repository of Shakespeare on the planet. That would mean I'm part of the English cultural elite, and I am utterly ill-fitted to be.
  • I think the best actors are the most generous, the kindest, the greatest people and at their worst they are vain, greedy and insecure.
  • I'm just a foul-mouthed Brit.
  • My definition of success is control.
  • Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world which offers fewer and fewer supports.
  • It's very strange that the people you love are often the people you're most cruel with.
  • There is some mysterious thing that goes on whereby, in the process of playing Shakespeare continuously, actors are surprised by the way the language actually acts on them.
  • Variety is very, very good. Going from medium to medium - if you get the chance to do it - from theater to television to film, which are all distinctly different, keeps me sharp. What works in one doesn't work in the other, and you have to be looking for the truth of the performance, whatever way that medium might demand.
  • [on being told he is to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II] I was very, very, very surprised and I was very touched. Michael Caine and Roger Moore, both of whom I've worked with, offered only the insight that it's handy to have the 'kneeling stool with the handle'. Roger Moore, who has a dodgy knee, was terrified on the way to the ceremony that, having knelt down, he wouldn't be kneeling back up again. You don't want to move suddenly while that sword's being wielded, I'm sure. I haven't read of [Her Majesty] having knicked someone on the ear just yet, but perhaps I'll be the first.
  • People often ask me, "Why do you keep doing Shakespeare?" Well, because it's meaningful to me. That to do it well - or even just to work on it - I find very life-enhancing. I don't have any kind of conventional religious belief and I find Shakespeare's a tremendous source of inspiration, because there's no situation that I've come up against that somehow hasn't been described in those plays. When I do work on it, it's like going back to some great piece of music. It is dramatic poetry, so each time you hear it, it reacts on you in a different, usually a richer, way. It's like a wonderful dog that gives you much more than you'll ever give it. There's unconditional love in there; he never lets you down and he's never sentimental; he's always bracing because he's so very, very realistic about families and love and all the normal human stuff.
  • [on Dead Again (1991)] I didn't set out do to something 180 degrees from Henry V (1989). I was trying to get a film of Thomas Hardy's "Return of the Native" made when the Dead Again script arrived out the blue and I simply couldn't put it down. Simple as that. It reminded me of the first sort of films that really made an impression on me. Immediately I was thinking of Dial M for Murder (1954), all those Hitchcock movies. The Welles stuff. Pictures I grew up watching on television. I've always loved Hitchcock and I re-viewed a lot of Hitchcock stuff in the early stages of preparing for Dead Again: Dial M for Murder (1954), Rebecca (1940), Notorious (1946) and Spellbound (1945). I wanted to remind myself of just how far he went because with Dead Again you certainly needed a lot of melodramatic Hitchcock approach to carry it off.
  • [observation, 1989] I don't go around saying, 'Hello. Did you know I'm the new Olivier [Laurence Olivier]?'
  • [on Frankenstein (1994)] People say to me in a slightly pitying way, "Were you interfered with on that movie?" To which I say, "No, it's my movie." It was bruising. I stopped reading the notices when I realised what was happening. I've had hostile reviews before, but these were very hurtful and personal. In a sense it was impossible for me to remain sane if I was to identify with any of that hostility. You can't do anything about people being irritated by you or what you are. But some people didn't like the movie and that's fair enough. I don't know what lesson one learns. De Niro gave a brave performance. I made the film I wanted to make and I'm very proud of it. In the end, all I do is make films and sometimes people don't like them. You can't worry about it or else you wouldn't get up in the morning. Our film was necessarily different from the traditional versions, and maybe people think there was a hubris in going up against the classics. We were trying to do Mary Shelley's book, which is different - Frankenstein has a more unfathomable motivation and the monster is more sweet-natured - and not necessarily better than the camp black-and-white movies that James Whale made with all that neck-bolted iconography.
  • [on In the Bleak Midwinter (1995)] I wanted to do something very small after Frankenstein, which was very big, and it felt good to work on a completely different scale. I didn't have to explain anything to anyone. I didn't have to talk about casting, didn't have to send rushes to America, didn't have to preview the movie. We made it, finished it and then we sold it. I like In the Bleak Midwinter as a title. I like the hymn from which it comes and I even like the word 'bleak'. It's a very bracing word, very authoritative.
  • [on Hamlet (1996)] It was very important personally for me to do this. Hamlet has been in my blood for such a long time, over half my life. I have strong feelings about how I see the character. I was compelled to do this, I could do it no other way. It's such a huge piece so the challenge of trying to do the genius of the writer justice - from the performances, to the sets, to the costumes, to the music - was simply irresistible. My drive was to offer it to people who want to understand it, and my challenge is to make the story and poetry work. For me this play sums up the process of living. I saw Derek Jacobi do it when I was 16 and I was so uplifted by the whole experience, and shocked and scared. Seeing Derek in Hamlet was the turning point for me. From that moment I knew I wanted to play the role. I was astonished by what a terrific thriller it was. It had everything - murder, violence, passion, a ghost. It was magnificent. Everything I looked at from that night on was more vibrant and in sharper colour. I find that my performance has changed, not only because I'm more familiar with the part but because I hope I've matured a little myself. When Derek directed me in 1988, I was a pretty hectic Hamlet. Now I think my performance has deepened as I've gotten a little older and hopefully a little wiser. Hamlet is a young man's play. If I hadn't made the film by age 35, I wouldn't have done it. This was the last point when I could fill the age requirement for Hamlet. In your roaring 20s, everything seems limitless. But when you reach your 30s, time ticks away. And after 35, you have to get on with things and it grips you. Our aim wasn't to make a long film, but an entertaining one, the way it should be made. By filming the entire play, you have Shakespeare's complete entertainment. It has something to say to all generations about politics, families, war, love affairs and the loss of a parent. I felt that when I started it, I had a much greater right to be making the film; that if I didn't know exactly what I was doing, I at least had much more information, much more knowledge, and a deal more experience, about playing the role, about Shakespeare, and about doing what I was still interested in doing.
  • Tromeo and Juliet (1996)? Body piercing, kinky sex, dismemberment the things that made Shakespeare great. Well they have a point and I'd be interested to see that.
  • [on taking up smoking at the age of 34, at a time when his career was in the doldrums] A daft late start on that one.
  • [October 2016] Two nights ago, I was watching Long Lost Family with Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall - that kind of thing I find very moving. I have a little Jack Russell dog who I just adore; he makes me cry, because he's just so there and loves life. And I love the month of May. I love it when that light hits this country and you see all that growth, all that possibility. I get that Seasonal Disorder thing, where I get very sad come mid-October when the nights draw in and I want to use every moment of the light that one can. So the arrival of May. That moves me a great deal...