Sir Kenneth Branagh Has an [...]; Sir Kenneth Branagh Has Played Many of the Great Roles Penned by William Shakespeare, but in His New Film All Is True, He Finally Plays the Man Himself. He Talks to LAURA HARDING about Exploring the Bard's Later Years and Facing off against Dame Judi Dench

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), February 16, 2019 | Go to article overview

Sir Kenneth Branagh Has an [...]; Sir Kenneth Branagh Has Played Many of the Great Roles Penned by William Shakespeare, but in His New Film All Is True, He Finally Plays the Man Himself. He Talks to LAURA HARDING about Exploring the Bard's Later Years and Facing off against Dame Judi Dench


Sir Kenneth Branagh has an association with the work of Shakespeare that stretches back more than three decades FOR Sir Kenneth Branagh, it seems all roads lead to and from Shakespeare. Few actors of his fame have devoted so much of their life to the Bard's work, so it was perhaps inevitable that one day he would play the man himself.

And now the time has come, in his new film All Is True, which he has also directed.

"There has always been a fascination," he says, while leaning forward earnestly in an armchair.

"I have always read books about him, about alternative theories, and so 35 years or something into a career that has dealt a great deal with him, I'm playing him."

During that 35-year run, the 58-year-old has both directed and starred in numerous film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, including Henry V, for which he was nominated for Best Actor and Best Director at the Oscars, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost, As You Like It and countless more on stage, including Twelfth Night and Macbeth.

But rather than playing him in his heyday, when he was a young man at the height of his powers, the film focuses on the last years of his life, after a fire has destroyed the Globe Theatre and he returned to Stratford-upon-Avon.

"It felt particularly that the last three years of his life was relatively unexplored, at least in film," he explains.

"When researching that, there was a responsibility, given that we were never going to find out everything that really happened.

"We were going to have to take what you might call a Shakespearean approach," he laughs. "He took facts from the lives of the great, from Julius Caesar to kings of England and he filled in the gaps with imaginative speculation.

"So that is intimidating, but it is also an exciting creative departure point."

ON BIG SCREEN " Does his interest in alternative theories include the idea that Shakespeare might not have penned all the plays that bear his name, as perpetuated by actors such as Sir Mark Rylance and Sir Derek Jacobi?"For me it is all interesting," he replies. "All debate and all speculation is interesting about it.

"But I love actually making the man from Stratford the starting point, because we do have information in the public record about that.

"You can go visit a house that he lived in and you can go see where he was born and so, for me, this process was about returning to that source."

THe." And while that might make it sound like a classic 'great man' biopic, the film takes an unexpected turn to explore his strained relationship with his wife Anne Hathaway, played by Dame Judi Dench, and his two daughters."They are entirely unused to him being there regularly, he says. …

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Sir Kenneth Branagh Has an [...]; Sir Kenneth Branagh Has Played Many of the Great Roles Penned by William Shakespeare, but in His New Film All Is True, He Finally Plays the Man Himself. He Talks to LAURA HARDING about Exploring the Bard's Later Years and Facing off against Dame Judi Dench
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