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Kenneth Branagh Talks Live-Action ‘Cinderella’
Posted by Megs

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kenneth Branagh discusses his live-action version of Disney’s Cinderella. Kenneth is best known to Potter fans as Gilderoy Lockhart, but has had an enduring career in acting and directing.

Was making Cinderella something of a departure for you?

The fairy tale element was a surprise to me in that, although I’ve read them and enjoyed them, I didn’t ever think this was a subject I was likely to make a film about. But when you go back to the original source material, you become aware of how all-pervasive this Cinderella myth is. How many times do you read about “the Cinderella story,” the story of the underdog, the story of the ordinary human being, often subjected to cruelty and ignorance and neglect, who somehow triumphs?

How much did you deviate from the original Disney cartoon?

The animation actually took a number of liberties with the original story, which of course has been told and retold across every type of culture, with different names and even different types of cruelty. There are some in which the stepsisters cut their toes off in order to force their feet into the slipper. What we put front and center was a level of reality and psychological truth in the performances that would be surprising in the context of a fairy tale.

Did you feel much pressure when dealing with one of Disney’s prized characters?

Anybody who goes into the Disney world and takes on one of these live-action versions of an animated classic is always up against that kind of ancestry. But my entire filmmaking career and indeed my entire career has been in and around classics. Probably 90?percent of the stuff I make has inevitably been done before. … Whether it’s playing Hamlet, which has been on the go for 400 years, or pieces from the cinematic world that also have been essayed before, I feel released by that. What I think it confirms when people come back to the stories again is not that they’re tired, but that the themes and the stories and the character are ageless, and that they have a different kind of resonance for each passing generation.

Have you tried to modernize Cinderella for the current generation?

The first time we meet the grown-up Cinderella, she’s reading a book; she isn’t just scrubbing the steps. She’s already intellectually stimulated. And she makes a decision to try and understand the cruelty and the ignorance of her stepmother and stepsisters. We see a strength of character that is sort of a form of non­violent resistance. And she meets the prince way ahead of the ball, before she decides to fall for him. They get to know each other and the seeds of a romance are sewn in terms of equality. It’s not about a man rescuing a woman.

Filed Under: Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh Talks Cinderella with Oh My Disney
Posted by Megs

In a brand new interview with Oh My Disney, Kenneth Branagh discusses his latest project, Cinderella. The trailer was just released and may be watched below.

Oh My Disney: What do you what the audience to take away from the new trailer?
Kenneth Branagh: I wanted to let the audience feel that [with the movie] they were going to enter a very sumptuous, lavish world. It’s a new kind of fairy tale where the emotional development feels very real. In the trailer I wanted to show people that there would be a great, big, immersive world to go into and that it would be fun to spend some time there. It’s playful and complex; full of energy.

Oh My Disney: What drew you to this project?
Kenneth Branagh: I love contrast in my work and I love surprise and challenge. I had previously worked on Thor and then Jack Ryan. And then along comes a fairy tale, and trying to work out what made a classic like Cinderella resonate so deeply across hundreds and hundreds and of years, and across the movie landscape for decades and decades, was a revelation. I wanted to figure out how you make Cinderella in the 21st century.

Oh My Disney: Why do you think has Cinderella remained so popular?
Kenneth Branagh: Life can be pretty rough sometimes for everybody and it’s wonderful to be able to go to the ball, or have a moment where all of your troubles are put to the side, and you get to dress up, and dance, and maybe have a wonderful romance. Our alliance with the underdog tells us if you hang on, if you believe in courage and kindness, life really will work out for you.

Oh My Disney: One of the themes of the new film is courage. How did that inform Cinderella as a character?
Kenneth Branagh: I think that she learns to turn the other cheek with strength. She has no sense of self-pity, no sense of being a victim. She makes her own choices, She doesn’t indulge in her own pain or hardships. She looks at the world with compassion. I find her such good company because she’s so un-showy, and yet she’s so charismatic. I think she really knows herself.

Oh My Disney: Do you have any advice for fans who might want to break into the film industry and follow in your footsteps?
Kenneth Branagh: Don’t limit yourself or your imagination. Imagination is a big beautiful space in your heart in which to live. Dream big, dream happy, dream kind.

Filed Under: Kenneth Branagh
Video: Trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, Featuring Helena Bonham-Carter
Posted by Megs

The first full trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella has been released by Disney. Kenneth directs the film, starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter. The film will be released on March 13, 2015.

The story of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the death of her mother. Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an apprentice at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit (Richard Madden). Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand, and a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham-Carter) steps forward and — armed with a pumpkin and a few mice — changes Cinderella’s life forever.

Filed Under: Helena Bonham Carter, Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh Talks ‘Macbeth’ and His NYC Stage Debut with Playbill
Posted by Megs

In a new interview with Playbill, Kenneth Branagh (Lockhart in the Potter films) discusses his New York City stage debut in Macbeth as well as the location of the play, which is an old armory.

“I used to stay with friends on the Upper East Side,” recalled Sir Kenneth Branagh in a recent phone interview, “and I walked by the Park Avenue Armory regularly, always thinking, ‘Gosh, it looks like a castle from the outside, like a stronghold.’ So, when it was suggested to me, I knew it would be perfect for the idea we always wanted to do — to give people an environmental experience from the word go.”

That feeling, said Sir Ken, “in New York starts as soon as you approach the outside of the Armory, frankly. You’re already seeing something that takes up a whole city block that is martial and very massive, and it will be containing a play that will be at least those things, as well as being a thriller and a supernatural ghost story and something that deals with primal human motivations in a big, sort of loaded space.

“You are aware, especially in the way they have refurbished the Armory, of its history with New York regiments. People have gone to wars from that building and from those rooms, and they have returned from wars. It carries that sense of a martial history that is very human and very thick and well over a century old. Thus, the atmosphere that the play is unleashed in is particular potent at the Armory.”

The play, a little over two hours in length, will be running for three weeks beginning tomorrow, June 5th (previews begin tomorrow). Tickets and more information may be found here.

“We play it at absolute breakneck speed,” said the 53-year-old knight, “because the events of the play are partly explained by the whirlwind that Macbeth and the other characters are subjected to. We wanted that reflected in the pace of our production.

“Here, we go for a very primitive and primal approach to the play. First screen direction: thunder, lightning, and rain — that’s what we start with. We try to keep the play visually in Scotland in a cruel world where he who fights hardest and longest wins, where there is a sort of appetite for power expressed in very clannish kinds of ways. The politics is basic and crude, with so much of it to do with physical martial prowess. In a way, the play is partly about a move in Scotland from a primitive world into new Middle Ages where there’s more hierarchy, titles, and structure.

“But the world our Macbeth lives in is a little more dog-eat-dog savage, elemental, where you feel the sense of the travel these characters have to take to go around Scotland. You feel the heat. You feel the weather. You feel the desperation. You feel the savagery of it and where the motivations are very basic. When Macbeth has this brief opportunity to potentially seize power, you feel the nakedness of his ambition.”

Additionally, a video interview with the actor may be watched below:

Read the full interview over at Playbill.

Filed Under: Kenneth Branagh

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