Name a celebrity or famous person you wish would take you out on a date
Teehee, this will surprise a lot of people, I’m sure but this is the guy….
Kenneth Branagh. I ADORE Kenneth Branagh, and I wish I could properly explain just what it is about this man that does it for me. But I can’t. I am, however, going to try!
I first came across Ken in Hamlet. I was at school and being forced to read Shakespeare which annoyed me greatly. Don’t get me wrong; I like Shakespeare. Even then I liked Shakespeare, but it wasn’t until well through my school career that I found teachers who were able to teach it without sucking all the joy out of it (Mr Callanan, Ms Hannah & Mrs Hardcastle thank you VERY much, you’re all awesome!). Romeo and Juliet I’ve only just managed to restore my relationship with. Fortunately, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello were done with much better teachers meaning I retained my love for them.
Anyway, I was trying to find something to make Romeo and Juliet easier to cope with and I found Hamlet instead. If you’re not familiar with this film adaptation, its a four hour monster of a film that Ken directed and stared in as the title role. It also starred the likes of Kate Winslet and Derek Jacobi (who I also really respect). But Ken, for this role had chopped his hair, bleached it to this really pale almost white blond and grown out a little moustache that peeped out from under his nose like a toothbrush. I loved it. I just took one look at him and fell in school girl love; never mind the play itself. I remember watching it to my mother’s despair because four hours really IS a long time to sit with your eyes glued to the TV set.
And then I found King Lear. Now… we were doing Othello in school, but this was around the time that I was listening to an audio adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (my favourite play) and I was trying to find more. It was a cheat really, to get through more Shakespeare without having to pick up the books. It worked really well and I can now rattle off massive chunks of that play with no effort at all. But I found King Lear at the local library and listened to it and heard John Gielgud as the sad king, along with Judi Dench as Goneril and Emma Thompson as Cordelia. I loved it. Seriously, if you can find this version to listen to, look it up, because its incredible. Bob Hoskins was in there too as Oswald. Robert Stephens was also in it playing the Lord of Cornwall, married to Regan (he’s another reason I looked up this play because he did such an amazing job of Aragorn in BBC’s radio version of The Lord Of The Rings).
But that was the second time I came across Kenneth Branagh and I just fell in love with his voice even worse than before. The opening scene of Act One, Scene Two is Edmund having a rant and I used to listen to it over and over and over again. So I started going out of my to find more things that he had done. I found Much Ado About Nothing, that he did again with Emma Thompson and I found Frankenstein, which I believe he directed. That starred himself along with Helena Bonham Carter and Robert De Nero (yummy cast!). But Othello was brilliant. I found that just in time for it to be useful at school. Laurence Fishburne did a marvellous job of the title role, but I was only really watching to see Ken play another Shakespearian antagonist. Iago was very, very well done.
And then I totally laid off Shakespeare for a little bit. Instead I turned to cartoon and found The Road To Eldarado in which he voices Miguel against Kevin Kline’s Tulio and Rosie Perez’s Chul. Awesome little feature cartoon from Dreamworks about two luckless con artists who end up inadvertently searching for the city of gold. Once again, Kenneth Branagh’s voice did wonderful things for me and seeing him play the sweet, funny and immature Miguel just made it better than ever. I still adore that film.
It was Dead Again, however, that made me really squee with glee. I think watching that film just proved to me that this was an actor who had been labelled incorrectly in my mind. If Eldarado didn’t do it, this film showed me that Ken was able to step away from Shakespeare and stretch himself as an actor, classically trained and very good at what he does. Because he plays two different roles in this film, I was able to see him carefully flit between one and the other and even thinking about it now makes my toes tingle. Nom.
We’ll not talk about Wild Wild West or Harry Potter. Yes, it was nice to see Ken on screen again, but those films are not his best moments. Wallender too, I hear is pretty good, though I’ve not managed to see any of them yet. There was something on BBC Four the other day, but that was the Swedish version and I didn’t feel like reading subtitles.
So there we are. I have just managed to through a whole bunch of films but I like, all with Kenneth Branagh in but that’s not why I want him for a date. The reason, actually, is rather silly:
In my early fan-girl days, I found the address of his fan club. So, a bit like with Michael Jackson, I picked up a pen and hand wrote a letter telling him about how much I admired his work and how it was helping me in school. I also remember telling him all about Silk Over Razor Blades (though at that time it was called To Be A Teenage Vampire) and telling him that his work was pushing me to keep going. Then I forgot about the letter.
Then… about two months later, I got a letter back. I couldn’t believe it! And yes… I know it was written by his PR people, or his secretary, but it was a direct response to the letter I had written, not some generic crap that’s sent out thirty times a day. ‘He’ wished me luck with school and with my novel and sent me an autographed photo! Yes… the photo is a actually postcard, but I don’t care. I still have it framed, to carefully preserve the marker pen and its on my bookcase upstairs now, almost pride of place. That is what makes me want to date just once; not so I can drool over him or gush about how amazing his work is, but just so I can tell him what it meant to a 16 year old fan, to receive a response back to a letter she wrote on a whim.
-_- I’m such a geek.
My 80 Post Challenge is brought to you with help from Tom Slatin’s 80 Journal Writing Prompts.