Kenneth Branaghactor, director, producer
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Having escaped the poverty of his childhood in Belfast, Branagh moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then went on to work in the Royal Shakespeare Company where he met his mentor, Derek Jacobi. He co-founded the Renaissance Theatre Company to offer a more intimate alternative to the larger RSC. Branagh is known to American audiences principally for bringing Shakespeare to films, receiving Oscar nominations for best actor and director of Henry V (1989) and for best adapted screenplay for Hamlet (1996), which he also directed and starred in. He brought Shakespeare to the masses with Much Ado About Nothing (1993), which was more commercially successful and co-starred his then-wife Emma Thompson. Branagh also appeared in an updated version of Shakespear's Love's Labour's Lost (2000). He has also undertaken non-theatrical roles in the noir flick Dead Again (1991), which he also directed, and John Grisham's The Gingerbread Man (1998).