photo credit: merlot mommy
Interview with the Talented Kenneth Branagh, Cinderella Director
The talented Kenneth Branagh sat down with 25 bloggers to discuss his work on the Cinderella movie. Besides having boatloads of movie directing and acting talent, Sir Branagh is charming and quite funny. And he knows how to “wow” a room.
From the moment he entered, he turned on the charm “How is everybody this morning? Good. Who have you spoken to so far? Everyone? Oh, really. So I’m the last one in?” That definitely lightened the mood and we all sat back in our chairs. It felt as though we were speaking with an old friend and not a highly recognized and multi-talented director. At one point in the interview, he discussed Richard Madden’s tight trousers. Yes, he did. That should give you some insight into how much fun Kenneth Branagh is!
What brought you to this project?
“I think it was the surprise of being asked. I hadn’t long ago done Thor. And I did a film called Jack Ryan. And so a couple of quite boy-sy films. And being asked to do a girl’s film, if that’s not a stupid way of putting it. And a fairytale and such a famous one, and I remembered a of couple things from Cinderella. I loved the chase back from the palace at midnight. I really remember in the original animated film the stepmother coming out of the dark with two blazing green eyes, at which she’s lying in bed. Cinderella brings her some tea. So I remember it being a bit scary but very exciting and fun. And, I thought I was very aware also if you do a Disney film then you have a big responsibility. There’s gonna be a lot of kids seeing it for the first time. And they all know the story as well. I’ve never made a film where the lights go down and you realize that everybody from five to 95 knows what’s gonna happen next. So it’s not about what happens next. It’s about how you do what happens next. So that was very exciting.”
Tell us about the casting process.
Kenneth: “I had an idea of how Cinderella should be. But we knew, in my experience, it was gonna be like I made a film, Thor, which took a long time to find the beautiful and sexy Chris Hemsworth, now officially the sexiest man in the world. I thought, well, I have good taste then clearly. No, no. So, we knew that it would take a while and that you had to really feel that the character, the actor would, in this case, you just want to be with them. You know, you want to be in their company. Yeah, she had to be likeable. You needed to want to spend those 90 minutes or whatever with her. And because of the way we were slightly reimagining the character’s personality, that she needed to have, you know, a good sense of humor, a kinda what we were calling a kind of an approachable beauty, kindness and passion and strength and that could stand up in a scene with Miss Blanchett or Miss Bonham-Carter. And who also just had a kind of, a sort of simplicity without being, you know, sappy. So it was gonna take a long time. And I heard Lily James’ voice first. I thought, God, that’s a beautiful voice. And she was a beautiful girl. And then she was very patient across a lot of auditions and things. And eventually it just became clear that she was the one.”
What brought you to cast Richard?
Kenneth: “I thought that he had sort of, apart from very blue eyes, he had, and very tight trousers, but that was another–actually, they weren’t his own trousers. So I shouldn’t really, you know, he had, intelligence and wit. And also he relished the idea of how you might sort of play a gentleman. You know, he didn’t, he wasn’t striving hard to be, a certain modern kind of cool.
You know, I think both these actors, I love the idea that they- they were prepared to be uncynical in the film, and just sort of respond directly to each other and that a gallantry, a courtship, the desire to woo, to serve, to listen were things that he felt could be played very positively and would be very, very attractive and that in a way there was a natural disposition in the world of the piece that we presented for him to, to love her. And that he was able to do that and not see that as suddenly rendering him the love interest. It was a very powerful thing to be somebody listening, looking, and reacting, and trying to, with the screen time that he has, and I think it’s very touching and wonderful chemistry between them. And I think he was somebody I felt could do this thing we needed to do of having a man who earned Cinderella’s respect and love. Didn’t just get it because he had a big car.”
Side note: Richard had me at the eyes! I think the eyes & trousers were quite important. Doesn’t hurt that he is an AMAZING actor and fit the part of Prince Charming perfectly too!
What was your favorite iconic image???
Kenneth: All of those, but I felt very, very, secure in the world of Sandy Powell and her amazing talent with the costumes. And the
determination to be very inventive about all of those things. So the kind of balance between finding it, this sort of classical approach– you know, for instance, it sounds like a sort of simplistic question, but there was a big question about what color is that dress? Does it stay blue? The original was blue. What kind of blue? Does it, is it pink? Because the mother’s dress is pink. But should it stay pink in order to honor her mother? How much do we want to see a pink dress for that amount of time in the ballroom sequence? And what can we do with material? How can we, how magical can we make the material that is pink as opposed to blue or some other color? So those conversations were all had. And it just becomes, a stage-by-stage kind of process. And you felt quite a pressure with the slippers because, you’ve got ruby slippers. And you got other slippers in film history. And it was gonna be a big moment. Sandy’s work with Swarovski, to find this kind of multi-faceted thing, which also has a– it has a heaviness. It was incredibly heavy, the real thing, and a kind of, very sort of multi-faceted thing, I think was really, a stroke of genius. And when we saw it for the first time it was very gasp inducing when we saw the actual object on a plinth, that she presented it on. We just, we took a long time to look at the big expectation moments. And I guess Cinderella at the top of the stairs coming into the ball was a favorite moment of mine. Or actually even just walking from the coach up the steps and into the palace I think the sort of moment where she comes into her own.
Cinderella opens March 13, 2015. Frozen Fever, an adorable short plays right before the movie. Don’t be late!
Check out related Cinderella and Frozen Fever posts:
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Disclosure: I was provided with a trip to L.A. for this event including this makeover, plus airfare, meals, and lodging. No other compensation was provided. All opinions are 100% my own.