Branagh, Kenneth, and Thompson, Emma

▪ 1994

      Who was the "better half" of the acting spouses Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh? That would have been hard to answer in 1993, a year in which both Britons accomplished big things in film. The sandy-haired Branagh popularized Shakespeare with Much Ado About Nothing, a film in which he served as screenwriter, director, and star. His main costar was Thompson, who played Beatrice to his Benedick, the thorn in his side and the throb in his heart. The breezy, colourful Much Ado won the praise of most critics and attracted an unusually large and diverse audience. Having achieved his third success in four years, Branagh was hailed as "a one-man British film industry" and appointed to the board of the British Film Institute.

      As for Thompson, she won an Academy Award for her work in Howards End as a pragmatic bohemian who befriends a dying woman and later marries her widower. The key element in this performance—and in her acclaimed work as a 1930s housekeeper in The Remains of the Day (1993)—was her strikingly large, pale blue eyes, through which she revealed more than her character could ever say. Despite her having achieved a prominence that rivaled her husband's, the couple's relationship remained—according to Thompson—one of "playful conflict."

      Branagh was born in troubled Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Dec. 10, 1960, but fled to London with his working-class parents nine years later. Forced to be English at school and Irish at home, the confused Branagh sought identity in acting. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and later, as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, wowed audiences with lead performances in Hamlet and Henry V. The film version of the latter earned him Oscar nominations for acting and directing. In 1989 he established his own Renaissance Theatre Company.

      Thompson was born in London on April 15, 1959, to actors Phyllida Law and Eric Thompson. Having a father who wore garishly checked suits and a mother who cleaned house wearing nothing at all, Thompson developed an appreciation for the ridiculous, and she parlayed it into comedy as part of the University of Cambridge's Footlights troupe. Soon after graduation she ventured into drama, distinguishing herself opposite an intriguing newcomer named Branagh in the BBC's "Fortunes of War" (1986). The two courted, clashed, and finally succumbed to marriage in 1989 after she played his queen-to-be in Henry V. They followed on with two more Branagh-directed films, the thriller Dead Again (1991), in which they played dual roles, and the sentimental comedy Peter's Friends (1992).

      Later, screen star Thompson wryly announced that "I don't have to work with my husband anymore. And I now sleep with my Oscar." But that did not faze Branagh, who planned to step out without her, starting with the title role in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (MICHAEL AMEDEO)

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thompson, Emma — born April 15, 1959, London, Eng. British actress and screenwriter. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she acted on stage and television and won acclaim in the miniseries Fortunes of War (1987). While married to Kenneth Branagh… …   Universalium

  • Branagh, Kenneth — ▪ British actor, director, and writer in full  Kenneth Charles Branagh   born December 10, 1960, Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K.       Irish born English stage and motion picture actor, director, and writer who is best known for his film… …   Universalium

  • Thompson, Emma —    b. 1959, London    Actress    Emma Thompson graduated straight from the Cambridge Footlights to the West End (Me and My Girl) and television, in Tutti Frutti (1987) and Thompson (1988), starring and written by herself. The BBC’s Fortunes of… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • Branagh, Kenneth —    b. 1960, Belfast    Actor and director    Branagh graduated from RADA with the gold medal, garnering work immediately in the West End and with the RSC. In 1985 he decided to create a smaller scale company which could be truer to the principle… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • Emma Thompson — Thompson in Paris at the César Awards 2009 Born 15 April 1959 (1959 04 15) (age 52) Paddington, London, England, Unite …   Wikipedia

  • Emma Thompson — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Emma Thompson Nacimiento 15 de abril de 1959 (50 años) Londres …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kenneth Brannagh — Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh au Roma Fiction Fest, en juillet 2009. Kenneth Charles Branagh, plus connu sous le nom de Kenneth Branagh, est un acteur et réalisateur britannique, né le 10 décembre 1960 à Belfast …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kenneth Charles Branagh — Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh au Roma Fiction Fest, en juillet 2009. Kenneth Charles Branagh, plus connu sous le nom de Kenneth Branagh, est un acteur et réalisateur britannique, né le 10 décembre 1960 à Belfast …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kenneth Charles Branagh — [ˈbɾænə] (* 10. Dezember 1960 in Belfast, Nordirland) ist ein britischer Schauspieler und Regisseur. Er wurde vor allem durch seine Shakespeare Verfilmungen bekannt. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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