Backstage Interview: WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Backstage Interview: WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

INTERVIEW WITH: Kenneth Branagh

FILM: "BELFAST"

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          Q.    Congratulations!  I am not a critic, but I really love the

                film.

          A.    Thank you.

 

          Q.    Can you talk about -- do you still have pains and emotions and

                issues stemming from what you experienced as a child growing up

                there?

                        And, also, I wanted to ask you, were you a fan of the

                film Roma that seemed to be a film that was also about another

                director's childhood memories growing up?

          A.    I have not seen Roma because when I first -- Alfonso Cuarón is

                a master filmmaker.  When I knew it that it was a childhood

                piece, I didn't want to see it because I didn't want to be

                either, you know, influenced or stopped, frankly, because he is

                a master, so I didn't want to see that.

                The film is really about the beginnings of understanding how to

                deal with the darkness of those days, which everybody had their

                own experience of, and as a 9-year-old and with a family that

                were trying to sort of shield us from it, it was to find as

                much joy and humor quickly.  Typical of the Irish, even in the

                darkest of situations.

                I think the thing that stayed with me was just the sense of how

                -- how much at that time I felt as though I knew who I was.  I

                had a very strong sense of who I was.  Making the film allowed

                me to return to that.

                My sister who is here tonight said, "This film has really outed

                you, hasn't it, as a kind of a working-class Belfast boy."

                And, yes, it has.  My brother is here as well.  That's where we

                come from.  And this was a way of not just acknowledging, but

                embracing everything about it, the dark and the light.

 

          Q.    Hi.  Thank you.

          A.    Hi.

 

          Q.    Ken, congratulations!

          A.    Thanks.

 

          Q.    What does this mean to you?  I mean, I've been following you

                for more years than I care to say.

          A.    Well, you know, we've grown up together.  It's as simple as

                that.  You were there in all the places lots of other people

                weren't in, you know, fringe theatres and the Birmingham Rep

                Studio when there's 100 people in.  And we had our first

                preview of "Much Ado About Nothing."  And Judi Dench came

                around after and said, "Watching you perform tonight is like

                watching a slow-motion car wreck, Ken."  I said, "Do you think

                I could do better?"  She said, "I think so.  I think so."

                People were kind enough to point out we were having ago.

                You know, it means -- it's -- it's very, very meaningful to me

                that as somebody who was in a small house watching a black and

                white television projecting images of academy awards to this

                working class family in the depth of Belfast to come -- to come

                and be here at the other end of that is really -- it is very

                meaningful.  It is very meaningful.  And, yeah, it's just

                great.  My family is here.  And that's a beautiful thing.  So

                yeah, it's really lovely.

 

          Q.    Will there be some cracks tonight, Ken?

          A.    Yes, there will be because Jamie Dornan -- the only thing we

                are going to really have to be careful about -- apologies in

                advance if this happens.  If Jamie Dornan sees a microphone and

                and if a fridge door opens, he is singing, Everlasting Love.

                It's as simple as that.

 

          Q.    Hi.

          A.    Hi.

 

          Q.    How are you?

          A.    I'm good.  Good to see you.

 

          Q.    I'm thrilled for you.  Congratulations!

          A.    Thank you.

 

          Q.    We were back last fall when the movie premiered.  We were

                talking about how this is the ultimate immigration movie and,

                you know, that a family has to make a decision about leaving

                their home and leaving their loved ones behind because there

                was terror going on around them.  We didn't realize back in

                November we would be in that exact situation now.

                        Have you thought about Belfast in terms of the Ukraine

                and the people who have had to leave?

          A.    What I've thought about is the -- is the -- what I would

                describe is the sort of miracle of what has happened in the

                north of Ireland over the lifetime of my generation.  So from

                30 years of dark and tragic trouble through 25 years of this

                very hard-earned very fragile piece which began with what we

                are struggling to see at the moment, which is the very, very

                difficult thing of trying to begin the process of

                understanding, first of all listening to, people with whom you

                profoundly disagree and finding a way to listen, understand,

                respect and possibly accept on the road to progress.  It's

                incredibly easy to say.  It is unbelievably hard to do.  And,

                yet, that is where progress is made.

                In the whole of Ireland there was a generation of people ready

                to do that.  And the example of the last 25 years as fragile as

                it remains is still a shining light in the darkness.  And it's

                one I would say we want to see shining as quickly as possible

                in other situations in the world where what seems to be the

                impossible can be possible.  And it is -- it is unbelievably

                difficult and unbelievably necessary and what I see across my

                lifetime is an incredible effort made that has been worth it,

                but please, God, situations in other parts of the world do not

                cost that amount of time to come to the same painful

                understanding that we need to talk, not fight.

                Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Oh, sorry.

 

          Q.    Hi, Ken.  Sorry to keep you from the party.

                I wanted to ask, it's a beautiful film about a memory.  You

                know, but a half a lifetime ago in 1990, you were first here as

                a nominee for directing and acting.  Do you have any memories

                from that night?  And have you thought about them at all this

                evening?

          A.    A man in a suit in a pair of dark glasses came up to me in the

                wings and tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around, and he

                said, "Hi, I'm Jack."  And I said, "You don't need to introduce

                yourself, Mr. Nicholson."  That is what I remember.  I remember

                being in the loo and sorting myself out, as it were, and

                looking to the left and right.  And Steve Martin was here, and

                Cuba Gooding, Jr. was there and realizing that it was an

                evening like tonight has that surreal quality to it.  I've had

                a lovely evening sitting next to Bradley Cooper, and we have

                had a lovely chat.  I had a chance to see Mr. Ford Copolla, who

                was a producer on our Frankenstein film 25 years ago.  The

                camaraderie that these evenings produced in unusual is very

                special.  So I remember that at that time, and I've had

                versions of that already happening again tonight, and that has

                been very lovely.

 

          Q.    Congratulations, sir.

          A.    Thank you very much.

 

          Q.    I will say congratulations.

          A.    Thank you, Mike.

 

          Q.    I was just wondering, how has it been to see young Jude Hill,

                you know, winning an award, enjoying the process and the awards

                season, and, you know, what can you say about him and the

                performance of you and just how it was to work with him?

          A.    He is a very special young fellow.  His parents are here

                tonight, Darryl and Shauneen.  They've done an amazing job with

                him and the two younger siblings.  They are a very, very nice

                family.  They encourage their kids to be open, funny, ask

                questions.

                The single beef I have with him is, you know, he supports

                Liverpool Football Club, and that meant directing him as an

                actor who had to play a role in supporting the Tottenham

                Hotspur Football Club was a challenge.  Although, I did say to

                him tonight, "Listen, if I can do this, then surely Tottenham

                Hotspur Football Club can be fourth place this season place and

                be in Europe next.  He disagreed with me, but I am backing me.

Acceptance speech transcripts for the 94th Academy Awards are created by a team of transcribers in real time and with minimal editing, for the benefit of the press on the night. They may contain omissions and errors, especially in the spelling of names. Clips of winner acceptance speeches may be found on oscar.com.

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