Kenneth Branagh is celebrated as a 'wunderkind' of the British stage and one of his country's leading film figures. He was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland. He moved to England with his family at ten and began his love affair with Shakespeare, reading 25-cent paperback volumes of Shakespeare as an escape from the school bullies who made fun of him for his Irish accent. Branagh excelled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he won the Bancroft Gold Medal for his "Hamlet". He become a star of the acclaimed 1984 BBC trilogy "Too Late to Talk to Billy", "A Matter of Choice for Billy" and "A Coming to Terms for Billy" on British TV and he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at age 23, opening its season at Stratford as the youngest "Henry V" in the company's history. He also wrote and directed his first play, "Tell Me Honestly". Branagh supposed that the RSC is too large, so he founded the Renaissance Theatre Company with David Parfitt and Prince Charles as a royal patron. It broke up in 1994. He continued acting in high quality British TV ventures such as seven-part drama "Fortunes of War", where he acted for the first time with his future wife Emma Thompson. He travelled to the USA and played in a thriller, "Dead Again", in which he played a role again opposite Thompson. The film was a commercial success, but Branagh did not fall in love with Hollywood and returned home to make "Peter's Friends". In the same year Branagh also directed "Swan Song" that was an Oscar-nominated story based on Čechov novel. Branagh went back to his first love adapting "Much Ado About Nothing" with Thompson, Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves. The reviewers called him as a clever propagator of Shakespeare for modern movie audiences when he paved the way for movies as Baz Luhrmann's version of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Shakespeare in Love". Then he co-operated with Francis Ford Coppola and a major star Robert De Niro on Mary Shelley's ”Frankenstein”, where Kenneth played Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Critical and popular responses were less than enthusiastic for this somewhat especial conception of the classic novel. Therefore Branagh returned to Shakespeare. He won critical acclaim for his "Othello" and also won praise for writing and directing "A Midwinter's Tale". Branagh followed with his own big screen version of "Hamlet", that goes on in the 19th century. He chose many Hollywood stars e.g. Kate Winslet, Jack Lemmon.
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Kenneth Branagh biography
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