Name at birth: Kenneth Charles BranaghKenneth Branagh was 29 years old when he became an instant Hollywood celebrity as the writer, director and star of the 1989 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V. Kenneth Branagh already was a star of the English stage, where he'd made a splash in the play Another Country (1981) and helped form the Renaissance Theatre Company (1987). Hailed as "the next Olivier," he was also known for his appearances on British television, including the movie A Month in the Country (1987) and the mini-series Fortunes of War (1987). Henry V was a box-office hit that brought Oscar nominations to Branagh for directing and acting. It was the first of several films he directed based on Shakespeare plays: Much Ado About Nothing (1993, with Denzel Washington), Othello (1995, starring Laurence Fishburne), Hamlet (1996, in which he also took the title role) and Love Labour's Lost (2000, with Alicia Silverstone). Success in that realm has overshadowed his otherwise unremarkable career as the director of films such as Dead Again (1991, with Branagh starring with his then-wife and frequent co-star Emma Thompson), Peter's Friends (1992), a film version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994, starring Robert De Niro) and the big-screen version of Thor (2011, starring Chris Hemsworth). Branagh never really became a dashing leading man of the silver screen, and many of his film roles have been as a reliable supporting player who can chew the scenery when needed. He has appeared in Woody Allen's film Celebrity (1998), in the TV movie Shackleton (2002, as Ernest Shackleton), in Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), in the TV movie Warm Springs (2005, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt), as Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), and as a slightly softer, more jowly Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011, winning him a second Oscar nomination for acting). Kenneth Branagh also starred on television from 2008 to 2015 as detective Kurt Wallander (based on the novels by Swedish writer Henning Mankell).
Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were married from 1989 to 1995… Branagh also directed the 2007 version of Sleuth, a movie that had been made in 1972 starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The new version starred Jude Law in the Michael Caine role and Caine himself in the Laurence Olivier role… Besides his acting nominations, Kenneth Branagh has also been Oscar-nominated as a writer (for his adapted screenplay for the 1995 film Hamlet) and for the 1992 live-action short film Swan Song (which he directed).