-> I first encountered Creator/{{Shakespeare}} when I was about fourteen years old, [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible and it really made no sense.]] I then went to see a play when I was fifteen years old, [[EurekaMoment and it changed my life.]]

Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is a British actor and director.

He is probably most widely known for his film versions of [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare's]] plays, which include ''Theatre/HenryV'' (1989), ''[[Film/MuchAdoAboutNothing1993 Much Ado About Nothing]]'' (1993), ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' (1996), ''Theatre/LovesLaboursLost'' (2000) and ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt'' (2006). Branagh adapted and directed all five, and starred in all but ''As You Like It''. ''Hamlet'' is notable for including every single line of the play, [[EpicMovie running slightly over four hours.]]

Other films in which Branagh has directed himself include ''Film/DeadAgain'', ''Film/PetersFriends'', ''Film/MaryShelleysFrankenstein'', and ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit''. Films in which other people have directed Branagh include Barry Sonnenfeld's ''Film/WildWildWest'', Frank Pierson's ''Film/{{Conspiracy}}'', Phillip Noyce's ''Film/RabbitProofFence'', Creator/ChrisColumbus's ''Film/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets'', Creator/WoodyAllen's ''Celebrity'', Creator/BryanSinger's ''Film/{{Valkyrie}}'', Oliver Parker's ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'', Joseph Sargent's ''Warm Springs'', and Simon Curtis's ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn''. (Oh, [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg and]] Creator/{{Dreamworks}}'s ''WesternAnimation/TheRoadToElDorado''.) Films Branagh has directed and not starred in include ''Film/InTheBleakMidwinter'', ''Theatre/TheMagicFlute'', the remake of ''Film/{{Sleuth}}'', and ''Film/{{Thor}}''.

His television credits include an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallander_%28British_TV_series%29#Awards award-winning performance]] as Kurt Wallander in the ''Series/{{Wallander}}'' series (2008-2012) based on the novels of Henning Mankell, as well as the TV-movie ''Film/{{Shackleton}}'' about Ernest Shackleton and the desperate journey of the 1914 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. He was also the narrator of the ''Series/WalkingWithDinosaurs'' series.

Granted knighthood by [[UsefulNotes/HMTheQueen Queen Elizabeth II]] in June 2012.

He played Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 2012 London UsefulNotes/OlympicGames opening ceremony.

!!Tropes associated with Kenneth Branagh include:

* AbilityOverAppearance: Invoked when he cast Idris Elba as Heimdall (see below).
* CareerResurrection: ''Film/{{Thor}}'' seems to have rejuvinated his directing career. He followed that up with ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit'' and ''{{Film/Cinderella 2015}}''. All three have been financial successes, and ''Cinderella'' in particular was a great critical success.
* CreatorKiller: ''Film/MaryShelleysFrankenstein'' '''nearly''' did this to Branagh's directing career. The film was such a huge bomb it was a while before Hollywood would trust him to helm another blockbuster (and made finding funding for ''Hamlet'' difficult). But he was still easily able to get plenty of acting jobs as well as directing the indie films he usually prefers.
* BlackVikings: Practically a trademark of his style. In ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing'', he cast Creator/DenzelWashington as the Prince of Castile; in ''Film/{{Thor}}'', it was Idris Elba as the Norse god Heimdall; and in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'', there was a black soldier in the Norwegian army. The black guard captain in ''Film/{{Cinderella 2015}}'' was considered by some to also be a case, though there's actually some historical justification there (at least as far as the film's time period can even be nailed down).
* LargeHam: ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn'', which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
* TheOner: a trademark of his.
* NiceHat: His Olympic Games role.
* ProductionPosse: Branagh's posse includes Creator/BrianBlessed, Richard Briers, Creator/DerekJacobi, Jimmy Yuill and (while they were married) Creator/EmmaThompson, as well as composer Patrick Doyle.
* PromotedFanboy: Branagh, reportedly, is a big-time ''ComicBook/TheMightyThor'' geek, and has been since childhood. One suspects his ear for Shakespeare was honed by the faux-Elizabethan dialogue of Marvel's Asgardians.
** Also Creator/WilliamShakespeare: Fell in love with the bard at an early age is now arguably considered the greatest translator of his works to the Big Screen.
** Had become such a fan of the ''Wallander'' novels, that he personally approached Henning Mankell at a Creator/IngmarBergman film festival in 2007, and asked if he could play the Swedish detective in Creator/{{The BBC}}'s adaptation.
** Branagh is also a fan of Laurence Olivier, and many have compared the two's career paths (as they both have successfully directed several Shakespeare adaptations). So, this made things humorous when Branagh was cast AS Olivier in ''Film/MyWeekWithMarilyn'', which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
** The Shakespeare play Branagh saw when he was 15 that changed his life was Creator/DerekJacobi in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''. Cut to 1989 and Branagh's cast his idol in ''Theatre/HenryV'' (1989), and like half the films Branagh directed after that. In 1990 Jacobi directed Branagh in a production of ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' inspired by Jacobi's version in the 1970s. Branagh's film version of ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' (1996) where Jacobi plays Claudius capitalises on the physical resemblance between them (their hair was dyed the same shade of Nordic blonde) and the theme of displacing a powerful father figure (obviously the antagonism is just in the film, they are friends in real life).
* RaceLift: He casts actors so blindly of their race that one suspects it's a deliberate habit. He does, however, cast ''really'' good actors, [[AbilityOverAppearance so it's not just some dumb, cheap stunt]].
** His most blatant example of this took place early in his career. In Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing he has Creator/DenzelWashington and Creator/KeanuReeves play brothers. Okay, half-brothers. Fair enough. One of them is the noble Duke that everyone respects and follows. The other is his bastard half-brother who is insulted over how everyone hates him because of his parentage and uses this as a justification to be the villain of the piece. The film is set in 19th century Europe. So who do you think plays the Duke and who plays the bastard? Wrong.
** His casting of Creator/IdrisElba as the Viking god Heimdall in ''{{Film/Thor}}'' generated quite a bit of controversy (Heimdall is described in sagas as the [[HilariousInHindsight 'whitest']] of the gods). However, after seeing Elba's performance, many reviewers commented that if racist idiots are getting upset about a black actor playing a fictional, supposedly-white character (and less worried about a guy who throws a magic hammer), ol' Kenny must be doing something right. Also 'whitest' is only one translation, it's more along the lines of purity rather than coloration. Besides, the gods can look however they want one presumes.
* RealMenLoveJesus: Became a devout Christian after hearing Laurence Olivier, one of his childhood heroes, reading the Bible. He remains so to this very day.
* RealLifeRelative:
** Branagh was married to Creator/EmmaThompson from 1989 to 1995. Count how many of his films feature her as his wife or love interest during that period. Interestingly, his one role in ''Film/HarryPotter'' (Gilderoy Lockhart ''Chamber of Secrets'') was right before her debut as Professor Trelawney (''Prisoner of Azkaban'').
** He was also with Creator/HelenaBonhamCarter from 1995 to 1999 (they supposedly first got together when working on ''Frankenstein'' in 1994) and subsequently cast her as well.
* WalkAndTalk: [[WebVideo/EchoChamber He did it first.]]

!!References to Kenneth Branagh in fiction:
* In ''Series/{{Blackadder}} Back and Forth'', a time-travelling Blackadder meets Creator/WilliamShakespeare and beats him up in retribution for providing the tools with which centuries of students have been tormented. He adds [[AndThisIsFor an extra blow specifically for]] "Ken Branagh's endless, uncut, four-hour version of ''Hamlet''".
-->'''Shakespeare:''' Who's Ken Branagh?\\
'''Blackadder:''' I'll tell him you said that. And ''I'' think he'll be very hurt.