Kenneth Branagh talks to AwardsDaily TV about the complexity of Masterpiece’s Wallander and about finding the truth in portraying Alzheimer’s.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to talk to someone like Kenneth Branagh.
For those uninitiated in the world of talent interviews, you’re normally allotted around twenty minutes of their time. Sometimes you luck out, and you can talk that into 30 minutes. Sometimes more. Such was not the case with the extraordinarily talented – and extraordinary busy – Kenneth Branagh. Talking with Kenneth Branagh is akin to taking a master class in acting theory. The man is so rich, so full of tremendous insight into the craft of acting, that asking questions feels a bit like being in said class when you didn’t read the text the night before.
Still, Kenneth Branagh (or “Ken” as he graciously to me to call him) is an incredibly kind and professional person, extremely approachable despite his award-filled pedigree. His latest project, the final series of PBS’s Masterpiece presentation of Wallander which was based on the celebrated Swedish crime novels by Henning Mankell, is an engaging and intense journey into neo noir. Ranging in locales from sunny South Africa to the hazy grey of Sweden, Wallander is, at its heart, a brilliant character study of a man growing and changing as life continues to hand him difficult circumstances. Based on the final Wallander novel, The Troubled Man, which aired late May on PBS’s Masterpiece, sees Kenneth Branagh as title character Kurt Wallander struggle with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Needless to say, it’s a powerful and honest portrayal of someone suffering from the disease. It never falters or becomes melodramatic. Branagh’s turn feels real and true. I should know. My grandmother died from the disease.
Kenneth “Ken” Branagh talked to me about the challenge of finding the truth in Wallander’s circumstance and the overall acting choices he made to bring this celebrated character to the small screen one final time. He received an Emmy nomination for the role once before in 2009. Here’s hoping Emmy voters look beyond the noise of the awards season to embrace this quietly devastating series and Kenneth Branagh’s stellar work in it.