Kenneth Branagh on his return to Shakespeare in the new film 'All Is True'

Branagh appears on "Popcorn with Peter Travers" to talk about the making of his new film.
22:02 | 05/10/19

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Transcript for Kenneth Branagh on his return to Shakespeare in the new film 'All Is True'
It is the story of William Shakespeare in his later years it stars my friend here Kenneth Branagh who also directed that god knows what an important. You know can I think it's kind of amazing we were talking a little bit before about. When I first encountered you which was you play. And Henry the fifth on screen. Which he directed as well started Oscar nomination for both. This was a Henry who was. Just deal with youth and vigor and with unity on the world and everything and it was. This rash vigorous approach to what experience and now you're playing Shakespeare himself in his later years. Making EL. Unusual and federal. And is a little so very privileged because the in Hawaii. In the fifth was a it was an amazing opportunity was the young actor and a sort of virgin film America. And reviews any possible Kazuo lots of other equally sources. Adventurous maverick figures in terms of the produces and also to other people who was taking accounts. Talking to the late great Sam Goldwyn junior. When we releasing that film and Americans thing. Cannot please please please I know I'm on. I'm twenty I'm nobody and nothing but it pleased economic to requests on the post of police could you include two names. One is Judi Dench. Who I promise you people will know about that student they will know about. And the Ottawa police as William Shakespeare without. Wouldn't it was would be here. Why credit the writer while Britain's traditional buy longer UA. But it was it the he'd just been concerned about what was gonna get people into that the its side note. Problem listening to a Smart money news news market but I suppose. The said that things. I like I keep some saying the same thank you to people like Judi Dench and stuff we've been through it journey through shakes. Many of these have you done with I mean are we but what about think of about eleven times. And she's directed me a couple of times directed. Who is the from a and a couple years ago we did fixed is by the witch's tail which was really a prelude to making this noble is true. Because she played Paul either a woman who speaks truth to power and she puts my character in the play loyalties of man. Who makes it stupid mistake good news church on failed as a result she puts it to the test puts into the sort and that sort of tense relationship. Became a sort of starting point for Ben Elton thinking about. How might Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare's relation be off to twenty years of him being the way customers. I missed the agent and coming back to face but. That's that. The whole crux of the story he's got this wife. Who he basically has neglected. Painfully. And two daughters and candidate against yes LD member he's dealing with but. I always hear we know nothing about what really happened in terms of what was going on Shakespeare's let them how does this come about that. You get to lay him in 1613. When he's basically retired after the old globe theater burned he's going home. Well we're Ben Nelson and I looked at the existing facts the facts as we knew that appear in the public record office and so you'll find that on on a day and in June of 1614 and my uncle John Lane stood up in the church holy trinity to construct but. And he called Shakespeare is dual thorough four and he said she had called Maria that she was. Sleeping with a with a man who was not a Huntsman. This is in public record quite clear it and everybody knew about it creates the sensation because Shakespeare it was a returning celebrity. And in the case of someone so creatively. Prolific to come back to a tiny town. And and a long way from London and and off to 37 plays and great success work out what to do we even. Let alone what to say. Two a wife divorces too as you say been neglected and you have if you think you've in terms of the plays that he wrote a gonna have plenty to say. About what he might or might not have. Donald said in in his terms he's got he's gonna come to terms with. How about sits in it would that the of this idea of what it's like. For a genius. To deal with a would rely was also in in the core of what we've Thomas Luka. Ben Elton who did this works on in a very humorous way yes yes yes yeah but that's it he's coming up. And people within who or year when you know. And I think what what what get one of the fascinating about Shakespeare's how elusive he is there are probably about 25 facts about him in the public record of his places he was things that happened. During the course his life but many people find to join. The idea of the fellow we present who may or may not have gone to drama school comes from a relatively low cost scenario in a small country town. And goes off into the world and can write plays about rove in Egypt and and it's in Lee and politics and religion and do so without having had the classical education without being. As it with a class collective genius who would Byron mad bad and dangerous and living a glamorous life of public both. And that's how great it does yeah but by some of that. But Shakespeare seems to go perhaps in exemplify what flew bit cold when he described the artistic life and said. You need to be bored to argue private life and revolutionary in new creative life. And you might argue that about Shakespeare but but that not that sort of conflict no tension. Between the ordinary man and the man capable of extraordinary. Creative output. To be used so touching at that point so Shakespearean because he often in his own place he pulls the rug from under the feet of ground that would put people. Saying you know what in the and year old in in the company. You'll that I need help at the end of your life you'll get a required to laugh fuel you gonna need to support that comes from very simple. Contact with human beings it isn't all about being used some grabbed queen nor came. Even if he writes very well about them he's genius I think he's writing about the VT community is always I have love yes. Isn't it yeah it's kind of amazing that in terms of film television whatever we don't really get that much. Yeah we really don't says. You why I'm watching this and I'm thinking OK here he's the he's coming home that Europe's coming off and nobody really we want it gets here everybody liked says. For really it out and also that they wore illiterates basically women just weren't taught. Yes I've saluted so so it allowed Ben Elton I think to give problem voice in the film to women who had not been listened to. I didn't matter to them that their father even then was lord it is as the poets of the age he is you know. Clear and present responsibilities. A parent and as a husband was something that they they challenge. And they challenge indeed as most. Family's experience even with the most high achieving rather rule father out there in the world being spectacular comeback here and in a kitchen table and you would just a member of that family and people unimpressed and attention. That you know cruises important one of the things I admire about Shakespeare is that. He does come back to stop but he does he does he just fess up you know he he he. He they stayed married and we investigate an ex school. The idea of what what what it meant when this is true in in Shakespeare's will. He left his wife his second best bed. Many people regard this is a great slight Norris now aboard a front we take a different view that it might have. That might actually be a layer of meaning in that it suggests perhaps it's. It's more than a friendly gesture by the beer loving gesture the title was originally the title of Henry the eighth. Correct yes it was an alternative title for what we believe was his he's lost play because it was the play that indeed. Again perhaps in fact that with a that resulted. At the end of act one scene four and June June 29 sixteenth team. They teams of play of pomp and pageantry they fired off a cannon and a spot went into the facts truth of the globe theater a copy went. Boat entirely to the ground and only one person suffered an injury was written about the local. Press is that would of the time such as it was this was somebody whose whose Boston have been done getting out pools of much hilarity but. To an off spousal three and a half thousand depending on what you believe. Got out but but that the a two was ruined. And title. That Shakespeare himself used regularly who which was one of irony oldest student who's to say how effective how accurate he could be about what happened backstage stage of the life and the eight. And other titles of his much ado about nothing as you like to twelfth night what you will. They offer this sort of Shakespearean shrug he looks that you need to be teases you that he did will be that we think they didn't what you thought we tell me what you think. So far so good my question of them are probably just like Pate went into I love women about your door like obviously don't like them is Constance of provocation. Teasing. He's not subtleties it is an area this area was that the first you refer you Belfast for. What was your first encounter with. Bizarrely actually memorably it was on television variety show circuit 1967. And it was Peter Sellers. Impersonating Laurence Olivier as we put. Reciting the lyrics from beautiful song hot days. Night. Could've been another thing that what he fed them if it's been a hot date night and by neglecting black about it in the hot days like that took it to be black and I'll. It looks like Salvador Dalis it meets of the Dolores Olivia is roots of the an amount percent of my god what the heck he's and in some explaining that it was like. Three layers of reference to this that playwright 400 use. 400 years ago but that was the beginning scratching the surface of wow this guy gets into while life somewhere that was me. And then we at school we will make to reach Shakespeare allowed it was the most painful process I couldn't. Would be meaningless to me. And then I went to see production revenues Judea with a thousand other kids a map and I that was why I mean we will wild. And the place stocks with a fight we source box coming away from the blades and we were it. We would definitely in the net this vision war don't lose Juliette. I think passed through puberty across the length about. I'm not a Catholic. I was gonna do this week fifty week you've done so much of Shakespeare you've spent so much of classics what we call classic that it seems few people Wednesday. It just hear your name that you would to the manor born yet that they're going to do the new Laurence Olivier immediately. And I think. The idea that you came to it that way you like we all wall at what. Watt when we're growing up when we're approaching puberty at whatever gets you and I don't find when I talk to people about it puberty is a major point. Of when you start to attach yourself to different things. People remembered the movie they saw. During that piers I agree absolutely it. And I found out two of the laws of fellow artists to. To keep people that it's been in film as well you'll constantly remaking the things that made a profound impact on you through your team's. I'll never forget the experience of creeping into the back of the rated film theaters two you. Seventy five's of these. But in the back who was elected eighteen certificate I was fifteen or something. To see dog day often. I I couldn't believe that movies will acting. Will films could be anything like this I just remember be wrapped his it was a I'm a great heist movie. I remember thinking what Charles Durning was just it was so real him outside on the street economy Alpa chino come out of that back but he was holding up and then. And then the bizarre nature of a conversation during Alpa chino Michael Sarazen. Where the chino tells him he's robbed the bank in order to pay for the sex change operation this is 1975. That Michael's presence car that is happening it was on the streets of new you'll. Filmed in is I didn't know that the film that a very sort of cinema that are tight weigh very much influence by French new wave and everything you Methodists find his. Didn't Cheney responded don't have volleys at its finest and all the way through to the most riveting did not play as they get mad about to get the play they're gonna make it they gonna make it of course. It's would've. Something happens. But. I mean if I was ever gonna be converted to the united the year of the power of cinema power performance power of directing. The crash the vibrancy of New York City. The the kind of the so. Revolutionary nature of medium like that you've is that in the doctor and the suburbs from in the subject to die in the suburbs like security and other. Men and women all over the world fighting their way to a movie replied it would have. But that experience along with Shakespeare the same time that was below in my mind. How do you finally get that had you make that move go knocking on the door thing. You know it's me. Are competitive flail big. Ignorance is split this ignorance is bliss as they said was that with what's at about the French revolution bliss was it. This was it in that belonged to be alive but to be young was very happen. And so. I think you know the great mystique about people assumed people let me of people of older Shakespeare's as somehow we have. Great intellectual cerebral qualities. Are much much simpler than that I I was bowled over in the case of Henry the fifth by. An amazing story and that I met somebody was equally passionate about bringing it to the screen in my operate produced a two maverick produces. And somehow we go to together at time when the British film industry was not really. Firing on all cylinders but by any means and we just didn't know how difficult it was we didn't know that. Didn't endless false starts we had we didn't know with two weeks ago when a very distinguished produces that to me this film will collapse. Within one week all it will be one week to 401 week off the principal photography. Begins a New York filled Korea will be destroy. But that it really low so it all over there. Weytman don't have an exact. There's nothing aptitude. And after look. But with with nothing to destroy the lot go ahead destroyed I didn't know what that means so who it doesn't look at you that the visas ranch today if and you should look at it if you had conceded. And of course I was remember you dragging Christian Bale crop about my goodness me he wasn't the Christian Bale we know all with Obama the niners no no he was a bit older. He had just how these amazing debut in Steven Spielberg's empire of the someone of the greatest or her child performances in mistress and I think so he was probably fourteen we've just talking a while ago about the impact in adolescence all of artistic experience or just life experience and I remember seeing Christian Bale sat behind. Judi Dench as she she tells the brilliant storage do wonderfully of mistress quickly describing the death hopeful stuff. And Jure net I so I sort kid. Witness. A great doctors and beautiful piece of work and actually have perhaps been transfixed I felt the source so Christian go from boy to man as an artist in that single thing. That's a great thing to what but let's. Look at your career as being we're talking about that Shakespeare that you done you know five or six films that you not just the six point. It's the idea I think this like discipline this is the seventh that isn't the play is what can you will turn around and you'll direct the war. You'll be your part of the marvel cinematic universe the MC year you do that you'll then say you know wanna do Cinderella. Now and next have been act and direct in their murder on the orient express. Is that something set out to do so that you're never of this one thing. I love going to the movies and I love surprise on why watch over Boston wide range of movies not an elected push myself as well also. When I'm made fool for instance it was big dudes model took a big counseled me it was a big sideways move. In in my create a big risk really because. You know it's making our films the book quite obscure that it was small audiences but things that were important to me. So it was a big thing for Kevin fighting to take on to Meehan for me it was a big adventure to go to that well but I knew that I probably had something different off. And in the case of that first full nudity all the things non interest and in performance and and all the things I'm on afraid of great big nasty drama about things that we kings and queens have always loved bringing them back to a sort of human place. With sort of meat and drink for something that had that great goals me. Running through it and you could bring somebody like Tony Hopkins and I don't remember. Kevin saying that in for that it was critically important that they had a film in the war that that. Planted in that aims to use the possibility of the fantastical. That that stock to the world it wasn't just. Roberts brilliant and he stopped content pre. World old Captain America but the time travel but something was generally. She genuinely fantastical. Stuff that they needed to be human so it was a great place for me to land. And then I got a chance subsequently because the people sort of trust me with those big budgets big. Begin a scale movies to. Unit to go into into other directions. And to me finding it's it's it's often finding. I think I guess from. But it's an interest in the classical idea like things that are both contemporary and traditional they continue to exist. Because this something that is connected to something ancient and mob was. But they still work because they could be totally alive in the year and now that would apply to something like Cinderella where the idea of a victim child. The running through this story was not something that was either acceptable helpful to send out into the universe but try to find somebody who could be empowered by kindness. What and and indeed empowered by forgiveness was quite a sort of subversive idea inside a movie like that. And then of course I love I love performance in the celebration on the when I first ought to go to movies in the late sixties with my firm lead to a big. All star movies that I loved going to see you didn't know why converted missing though it through but he. But when you suddenly put together a gallery of characters like we had a vote on New York express. Of this nominee actually dates again if you're thinking it can't get rid of Europe yes cheap. Real. But sad to see we've we've Johnny debt today Jack in the show five. That would mean itself is a kind of event he put him in a great plot by the Christie. And it gives you something unusual. In the league darkened room experience. The beginning of career you with the young Olivier that completely block anything in my he will eat with marrow. Where. It's just so strange and now you're playing Shakespeare. This one that you started your career and your film career. You feel that. You. The was so something very privileged about playing Shakespeare having. What so much with his material I feel I owe him a great huge huge huge debt on any for a Korea but also for. A soulless and an understanding in that kind of instruction. Intellectual moral philosophical that these play he's sort of present to you every time you work on the view. In dogs to buy just the consideration of what it takes to be a human being in the small of the launch weather that's teaching about kindness. Where it's teaching you about growing. We're about loss or about gratitude. He's been in the soul of the man has at least. He'd QE2 through the plays for me has been. And a constant source of all of of generous and compassionate. Companionship pull away through violent so it had to actually try and find a way to bring. What I think lies in in that created so. Two of this screen name bode him not for me it was a privilege and it was so something off it was very sort of pressures and I wanted to. I wanted to do my very best. And it. So that's pretty great so you know we end the show and fall all the time. Okay what do you wanna sing four part case you hate what his contribute should we do. Cole Porter should be view of Russia obviously that would be the perfect week. I expect that there OK brush up your Shakespeare is stopped quote to him now. Brush up your Shakespeare and the women you will allow the public can't say that it. We are now I know you I think so yeah okay that's what the I think he sold site today thank you so.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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