Pin It

Sir Laurence Olivier’s Advice to a Young Kenneth Branagh: “Have a bash and hope for the best”

Let’s be honest: what current actor would you pick to play fifty-year-old Sir Laurence Olivier in a movie?  There’s really only one logical choice to play such a significant Shakespearean actor: Kenneth Branagh, also fifty, who is likewise known for his Shakespearean roles. 

Branagh, who appears as Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, which chronicles a period during the time when Olivier was directing and co-starring with Marilyn Monroe in the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl

In an interview in The Star, Branagh talks about playing Olivier and working with Michelle Williams, who also immersed herself in her own role.

It’s important to note that the teenaged Branagh wrote Olivier for advice about a difficult role while going to acting school.  Olivier, however, replied not with technical advice but a note that said “have a bash and hope for the best.”  While acting as Olivier Branagh reflected on that advice, especially when in came to reenacting Olivier’s difficulties with dealing with Monroe on the set.  He explains, “I suppose what his simple remark belied was just the feeling one senses in his dealings with Marilyn, that sometimes you just have to do it.  Don’t talk about it or prepare it. That was one of the problems between them. He believed you show up and give it your best and your best ought to be good enough, and she (Marilyn) believed you didn’t show up until you were going to be superb.”  Ever the perfectionist, Branagh got into the role as one of his acting idols by not only listening to Olivier’s recordings while in the makeup chair (getting that perfect Olivier cleft chin, of course), but by visiting Olivier’s home at the time, where he lived with then-wife Vivian Leigh.  But perhaps the greatest perk was working with Michelle Williams, who — even more than Branagh — immersed herself in her role.  Branagh points out that in regard to Williams as Monroe, “It’s a very difficult role and one she arrived at having a master-class amount of detail. She was an encyclopedia.  Michelle is who I went to with all questions on Marilyn. She was the on-set research resource.”

Overall, Branagh was impressed by Williams’ transformation into Monroe.  He raves, “She immersed herself in everything to do with the technical: look, walk, sound of the voice. She seems, in any given scene where she was being Marilyn, to make this imaginative leap into her own actor’s estimation of what she thought the real Marilyn was. I admired her very much for how should could do everything people expected of her. She was immersed and very focused.”

My Week With Marilyn is now playing in limited release.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bryan-cranston-emmy-award-speech.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Emmy Award Speech: “I love to act. It is a passion of mine and I will do it until my last breath.”
The Emmy Awards weren’t the most exciting awards show this year but with Bryan Cranston winning for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Breaking Bad, we at least got to hear one heck of a fantastic acceptance speech. “I was a kid who always looked for the shortcut,” he said. “I did happen to stumble […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/audition-tapes-gerard-butler-aud.jpg
Audition Tapes: Gerard Butler Auditions for ‘Dracula 2000′
Check out Gerard Butler auditioning for the role of Dracula in the movie, Dracula 2000. The film, about a group of thieves who break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead find Dracula himself, also starred Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller and Nathan Fillion. Bulter has some sweet rock star hair, huh?  
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-matt-dillon-and-carla.jpg
Interview: Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino Talk ‘Wayward Pines’
FOX has a new limited-series that’s got a terrific cast and interesting premise. It’s called Wayward Pines and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Terrance Howard, Juliette Lewis, Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon. The show, whose pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is about a Secret Service agent (Dillon) goes to […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-wayward-pines-stars-ti.jpg
Interview: ‘Wayward Pines’ Stars Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon on the Show, Their Characters and More!
Griffin and Sossamonwere at Comic-Con where they sat in on some roundtable interviews to talk about the show.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-m-night-shyamalan-talk.jpg
Interview: M. Night Shyamalan Talks ‘Wayward Pines’ and Why He Expanded a Young Actors Role on the Show
I talked to Shyamalan at Comic-Con in a roundtable interview where he talked about the cast, what he learned from working in TV and how young actor Charlie Tahan started out with a small part but as the story grew, so did his role.