Sir Kenneth Branagh might be better than anybody at telling the story of William Shakespeare.
His love of the English playwright first came to light in 1989 when he directed and starred in the film “Henry V,” receiving Oscar nods for both roles. Some 30 years later, Branagh is now starring as Shakespeare in his later years in the new film, “All is True.” Branagh told ABC News he feels privileged to have come full circle on Shakespeare.
“In a way 'Henry V' was an amazing opportunity to have as a young actor and as a sort of virgin filmmaker,” Branagh said in a recent appearance on “Popcorn with Peter Travers." "And it really was only possible because there were lots of other equally sorts of adventurous, maverick figures in terms of the producers and all sorts of other people who were taking a chance on me.”
He added, “I keep saying the same thank yous to people like Judi Dench who’ve stuck with me through a journey through Shakespeare.”
The two have worked together nearly a dozen times, with Dench both directing and starring beside him.
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“All Is True” looks at Shakespeare's life in retirement in 1613, after the renowned Globe Theatre was destroyed in a fire. Shakespeare was then forced to return to home to Stratford and his neglected family. Branagh said the film's writer, Ben Elton, looked through public records to find out what his life was like after returning home, and it was anything but easy.
“Shakespeare was a returning celebrity, and in the case of someone so creatively prolific, to come back to a tiny town, a long way from London, after 37 plays and a great success, work out what to do even, let alone what to say, to a wife and daughters who’ve been neglected, he’s got to come to terms with how that sits,” Branagh, 58, told Travers. “This idea of what it’s like for a genius to deal with ordinary life is also in the core of what we were trying to look at.”
"All Is True" hits theaters Friday.
Watch the full interview with Peter Travers and Kenneth Branagh in the video above.