Name at birth: Kenneth Charles BranaghKenneth Branagh was 29 years old when he became an instant Hollywood celebrity as the writer, director and star of the 1989 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V. Kenneth Branagh already was a star of the English stage, where he'd made a splash in the play Another Country (1981) and helped form the Renaissance Theatre Company (1987). Hailed as "the next Olivier," he was also known for his appearances on British television, including the movie A Month in the Country (1987) and the mini-series Fortunes of War (1987). Henry V was a box-office hit that brought Oscar nominations to Branagh for directing and acting. It was the first of several films he directed based on Shakespeare plays: Much Ado About Nothing (1993, with Denzel Washington), Othello (1995, starring Laurence Fishburne), Hamlet (1996, in which he also took the title role and was nominated for an Oscar) and Love Labour's Lost (2000, with Alicia Silverstone). Success in the acting realm overshadowed his other career as the director of films such as Dead Again (1991, with Branagh starring with his then-wife and frequent co-star Emma Thompson), Peter's Friends (1992), a film version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994, starring Robert De Niro) and the big-screen version of Thor (2011, starring Chris Hemsworth). Now more character actor than leading man on the big screen, Branagh has appeared in Woody Allen's film Celebrity (1998); in the TV movie Shackleton (2002, as Ernest Shackleton); in the TV movie Warm Springs (2005, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt); in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002); in My Week with Marilyn (2011, winning him a second Oscar nomination for portraying Laurence Olivier); a British commander in Dunkirk (2017); a villain with a cartoon accent in Christopher Nolan's Tenet (2020); and as Hercule Poirot in 2022's Death on the Nile. Kenneth Branagh also starred in the television series Wallander from 2008 to 2015 as detective Kurt Wallander (based on the novels by Swedish writer Henning Mankell). Branagh's 2021 film Belfast was nominated for best picture, and he was nominated for best screenplay and best director.
Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were married from 1989 to 1995… Branagh also directed the 2007 version of Sleuth, a movie that had been made in 1972 starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The new version starred Jude Law in the Michael Caine role and Caine himself in the Laurence Olivier role… Branagh was nominated for an Oscar as best director of a short film in 1993, Swan Song, based on a play by Anton Chekhov.
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