Kenneth Branagh

Last updated on the 25 May 2024 by Maeve

Kenneth Branagh

Mini Biography

Born: 10 December 1960, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

Growing up in a working-class family, Kenneth Branagh discovered his passion for acting at an early age. Inspired by the performances of Laurence Olivier, he realised his calling and embarked on a path to pursue his dreams. Branagh attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and gained a solid foundation in the art of theatre.

Branagh’s breakthrough came in the 1980s when he formed the Renaissance Theatre Company, which aimed to bring classical theatre to a wider audience. His acclaimed stage productions of Shakespearean plays, such as “Henry V” and “Hamlet,” garnered critical acclaim and established him as a leading figure in British theatre. Branagh’s ability to bring Shakespeare’s words to life with depth and authenticity became his trademark.

His success on stage paved the way for a flourishing career in film. In 1989, Branagh made his directorial debut with the film adaptation of “Henry V,” which he also starred in. The film received widespread acclaim, earning him multiple award nominations, including Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Actor. This marked the beginning of Branagh’s reputation as a skilled director with a keen eye for storytelling.

Over the years, Branagh continued to deliver exceptional performances both in front of and behind the camera. He directed and starred in numerous adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, including “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993) and “Othello” (1995). His ability to balance the grandeur of the source material with modern sensibilities made these films accessible and enjoyable for audiences worldwide.

Branagh’s talent extended beyond Shakespearean works. He explored various genres and showcased his versatility as an actor and director. He directed and starred in the mystery-thriller “Dead Again” (1991) and the historical drama “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (1994). He also portrayed iconic characters such as Hercule Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) and Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week with Marilyn” (2011), earning critical acclaim for his performances.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Branagh’s personal life has been a subject of interest to many. He has been married and divorced twice, first to actress Emma Thompson and later to filmmaker Lindsay Brunnock. Branagh’s collaborations with Thompson, both on and off-screen, were highly regarded and showcased their undeniable chemistry as a creative duo.

Branagh’s contributions to the arts have been recognised with numerous awards and honours throughout his career. He has received five Academy Award nominations, three BAFTA Awards, and has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama and the community.


BAFTA award
WINNER | Film: Achievement in Direction for
Henry V (1990)  | Television: Leading Actor for Wallander (2010)  | Film: Outstanding British Film for Belfast (2022) 


Oscar award


WINNER | Best Original Screenplay for Belfast (2022)




Suggested viewing


Fortunes of War (1987)

Fortunes of War poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.8

Fortunes of War is a BBC television adaptation of Olivia Manning’s cycle of novels. Set during the early part of the Second World War, it follows Guy Pringle, an English Literature lecturer in Bucharest and his wife Harriet. Amidst the war’s turmoil, they encounter a diverse cast of characters while facing personal conflicts.

Top cast: Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Stephens, Rupert Graves, Ronald Pickup, Charles Kay, Alan Bennett, Ronald Hines.


This England (2022)

This England poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 6.7

A drama that chronicles the chaotic early days of new Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he confronts a rapidly escalating global pandemic. The story unfolds within the halls of government, following both political maneuvering and the human cost of the crisis, weaving together the perspectives of overwhelmed healthcare workers and everyday citizens struggling to survive.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Simon Paisley Day, Ophelia Lovibond, Andrew Buchan, Derek Barr, James Corrigan, Jimmy Livingstone, Simon Lowe.

Related to

Help (2021) poster


A Haunting in Venice (2023)

A Haunting in Venice

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.7

Set in post-World War II Venice, Agatha Christie’s iconic detective, Hercule Poirot, finds himself reluctantly drawn into a seance. However, the evening takes a sinister turn when a guest is brutally murdered. With his detective instincts still sharp, Poirot must step out of retirement and unravel the web of secrets to identify the cunning killer lurking among them. As the city of Venice becomes a backdrop for mystery, suspense, and deception, Poirot’s deductive prowess is put to the ultimate test.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Kelly Reilly, Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Emma Laird, Ali Khan, Jude Hill.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Shackleton (2002)


Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.6

“Shackleton”, directed by Charles Sturridge, tells the awe-inspiring true story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition. After their ship, Endurance, becomes trapped in ice, Shackleton and his crew face relentless hardships and unimaginable challenges in their quest for survival. Their remarkable journey showcases the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, John Grillo, Phoebe Nicholls, Eve Best, Mark Tandy, Mark Williams, Ian Mercer, Lorcan Cranitch, Kevin McNally.


Belfast (2021)

Belfast poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.3

“Belfast” is a heartfelt coming-of-age story set in the tumultuous 1960s. Young Buddy navigates his way through the challenges of growing up in a divided city, finding solace in his loving family and the power of music. It is a tale of resilience, love and finding hope in the midst of adversity.

Top cast: Jude Hill, Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, Lara McDonnell, Lewis McAskie, Gerard Horan.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Death on the Nile (2022)

Death on the Nile (2022)

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.3

In Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile”, detective Hercule Poirot finds himself aboard a luxurious Nile cruise when a young heiress is murdered. With a boat full of suspects and a tangle of motives, Poirot must unravel the truth behind the crime before the ship reaches its destination.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman, Armie Hammer, Emma Mackesy, Letitia Wright, Sophie Okonedo, Annette Bening.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Wallander (2008)

Wallander poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.8

Wallander is a Swedish detective series based on the novels by Henning Mankell. The story follows Kurt Wallander, a troubled and dedicated police inspector, as he solves complex crimes in the town of Ystad. With a brooding atmosphere and intense character development, Wallander delves into the dark underbelly of human nature.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Sarah Smart, Tom Hiddleston, Richard McCabe, Jeany Spark, David Warner, Sadie Shimmin, Tom Beard.


Henry V (1989)

Henry V (1989) 

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

In Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, the young king of England embarks on a campaign to reclaim the French throne. Despite being outnumbered, Henry V inspires his troops with rousing speeches and displays of leadership. The play explores themes of war, leadership and the complexities of national identity, culminating in the famous Battle of Agincourt.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, James Larkin, Paul Schofield, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench, Simon Shepherd, James Simmons.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Hamlet (1996)


Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.7

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Prince Hamlet of Denmark seeks revenge for his father’s murder by his uncle Claudius. Struggling with his own sanity and haunted by his father’s ghost, Hamlet contemplates life, death, and the nature of reality. The play delves into themes of betrayal, madness, and the consequences of inaction.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Richard Briers, Nicholas Farrell, Rufus Sewell, Reece Dinsdale, Timothy Spall.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.5

In Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”, renowned detective Hercule Poirot finds himself aboard the luxurious train when a passenger is found dead. With a limited pool of suspects and an intricate web of secrets, Poirot must unravel the truth behind the murder before the train reaches its destination.

Top cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucy Boynton, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Much Ado About Nothing

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.3

In Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” , a group of friends gathers at a Tuscan estate. The story revolves around two couples: Beatrice and Benedick, whose witty banter conceals their true feelings, and Hero and Claudio, whose love is threatened by malicious schemes. Through mistaken identities and comedic misunderstandings, the play explores themes of love, deception, and the power of language.

Top cast: Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Robert Sean Leonard, Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, Richard Briers, Imelda Staunton, Keanu Reeves, Michael Keaton.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh.


Wikipedia (full filmography as actor)


Wikipedia (full filmography as director)


Kenneth Branagh Gallery


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