Here’s another interview for my series on “The Reel Breakdown”:
Kenneth Branagh, 51, has been rocking both ends of the movie spectrum. He’s getting Oscar buzz — and a Golden Globe nomination — for playing actor-director Sir Laurence Olivier in the art-house hit “My Week With Marilyn” opposite Michelle Williams. It’s the story of the tensions on and off the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) as chronicled by lovesick production assistant Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne). And last summer, the Irish-born actor scored a global hit directing the Marvel comic blockbuster, “Thor.” He talked exclusively to Yahoo! Movies about Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe, and having a blast playing with gods — and Hollywood cash — on the set of “Thor.”
Thelma Adams: What are your impressions of Marilyn Monroe, the woman and the myth?
Kenneth Branagh: I didn’t know enough about her childhood to know that something that had happened there had produced this sadness. She always brought this extra bit of atmosphere, even when she was gushing and laughing. Was it the product of a tough childhood or emotional scarring? Or was it the sense of isolation when she was such an enormous movie star, while not getting consistent satisfaction from her personal life? I was always intrigued by that.
TA: What was your sense of Marilyn before you made the movie?
KB:The Marilyn I was most familiar with was from “Some Like It Hot“: angelic and fun and sexy and quite mature, less gushy than in the other movies. I so wanted to be in that cabin with Tony Curtis and Marilyn [when her character seduces his on a yacht]. It really carries a very strong sexual charge. It gets under the skin a bit. That was her very best to me. I just wondered about this sadness, and I was pretty sure Michelle Williams would bring it in.
TA: Obviously, Williams delivered. She’s also nominated for a Golden Globe. What do you think was her take on Marilyn?
KB: Williams was really smart to understand that the Marilyn we see in the film, who seems determined to prove that she is a great actress, arrives in England as an already fictional character, who is a woman named Marilyn, who is not Norma Jean, who doesn’t speak in that orgasmic whisper, or walk that exaggerated walk with her knees locked together. What I could see in Michelle’s eyes as I acted opposite her was Marilyn’s confusion. She presented a Marilyn who was really in search for herself — and she was looking in England to see if she could find the great actress, at the foot of the great actor. [Read on for the full interview]