KENNETH Branagh has made a huge impact on theatre and film during his career, often inspired by the greats of English literature.
Here’s what we know about the thespian and director, now wowing audiences with his facial foliage in Murder On The Orient Express…
Who is Kenneth Branagh, how old is he and what is his background?
Kenneth Branagh is an Olivier, Emmy and BAFTA Award winning actor and director of stage and screen.
Born in Belfast in December 1960, his family moved to Reading in England to escape the Troubles when Kenneth was nine, and he acquired Received Pronunciation at school to avoid bullying.
Kenneth, who is the middle of his parents’ three children, trained in his craft at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA).
His contemporaries included Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson and Fiona Shaw, and throughout the 1980s Kenneth performed in numerous stage productions.
Known for his Shakespeare roles, Kenneth went on to make a wide range of films and TV, including Disney reboots, Scandi crime drama remakes, Marvel blockbusters and WW2 epics.
As of 2015, the 56-year-old is also the president of RADA, taking over the position from Richard Attenborough.
He was knighted in 2012 for his services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland, shortly after appearing in the Olympics Opening Ceremony.
What are Kenneth Branagh’s biggest movies and TV shows?
Kenneth has appeared in dozens of blockbusters throughout his career and has directed 17 feature films.
After a couple of minor movie roles, Sir Ken first burst on to the big screen in his self-directed Shakespeare adaptation Henry V in 1989, also starring then-wife Emma Thompson.
He received two Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Director for his work on Henry V.
That success inspired Sir Ken to make a further four big screen Shakespeare adaptations – Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost.
He also directed and starred with Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and made a cameo in 2016 comedy Mindhorn.
Younger film fans would no doubt recognise him as Gilderoy Lockhart, the pompous Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
He has also appeared in My Week With Marilyn, Wild Wild West, Rabbit Proof Fence, Five Children & It and The Boat That Rocked.
In addition Sir Ken remade the movie Sleuth, directed his own movie version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and also was at the helm of Disney movies Thor and Cinderella.
On the small screen, Kenneth starred in Scandi crime drama adaptation Wallander as the lead character, troubled and weary detective Kurt Wallander.
What inspired Kenneth’s Murder On The Orient Express moustache?
Sir Kenneth’s big 2017 movie comeback is his directorial effort Murder On The Orient Express, following on from the 1974 version starring Albert Finney, and the book by Agatha Christie.
While the focus ought to be on Kenneth’s lead role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot – famously played on telly by David Suchet – his huge moustache has been a major talking point.
And Sir Ken has revealed it took him a whopping nine months to select the right style of facial hair for the part.
He told The Guardian: “We started with something thinner than Charlie Chaplin’s, then something that went up, that went down.
“We looked at famous moustaches in movies and paintings. The luxury as an actor… is that you can go back to the books and trawl for details.
“I loved [author Agatha] Christie’s phrasing – ‘the most magnificent moustaches in England’ – and I enjoyed the fact that the risk you were taking was that you would potentially produce the impact that the moustache has on characters in the novels, who often dismiss or ridicule Poirot, or are embarrassed by him.”
Aside from hysteria-inducing facial hair, the movie features a glittering all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer and Willem Dafoe.
Who did Kenneth play in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk?
In 2017 movie Dunkirk, Kenneth played Commander Bolton – who helps rescue the soldiers who were left in trouble in Dunkirk.
Considering nearly 70,000 British soldiers lost their lives during the 1940 Battle Of Dunkirk, when Allied troops were surrounded by the German army, fans were considerably moved by the film.
The event is considered a turning point in the defeat of the Germans in World War II, which ended in 1945.
Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles and James D’Arcy were among Kenneth’s co-stars in Christopher Nolan’s big screen depiction of the battle.
Is Kenneth single?
He is currently married to Lindsay Brunnock, a film art director he met while on set. They tied the knot in 2003.
Kenneth was previously married to Emma Thompson, with whom he had an eight year relationship and six year marriage between 1987 and 1995.
They divorced when Kenneth was revealed to be having an affair with Helena Bonham Carter, his co-star in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Carter and Branagh broke up in 1999 and she went on to marry Tim Burton.
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