Director Kenneth Branagh is a force to be reckoned with, however he handles it with such style and of course it doesn’t hurt that he is quite handsome as well. While at the #CinderellaEvent we had the opportunity to sit down with him and chat about all things Cinderella. Check out some of the interview below:
Q: Tell us about the casting process.
Kenneth: I had an idea of how Cinderella should be. In my experience, it was gonna be like I made a film, Thor, which took a long time to find the beautiful and sexy Chris Hemsworth, now officially the sexiest man in the world. I thought, well, I have good taste then clearly. We knew that it would take a while and that you had to really feel that the character– the actor would, in this case, you just want to be with them. You know, you want to be in their company.
She had to be likeable. You needed to want to spend those 90 minutes or whatever with her. Because of the way we were slightly reimagining the character’s personality she needed to have a good sense of humor, a kinda what we were calling a kind of an approachable beauty, and kindness and passion and strength that could stand up in a scene with Miss Blanchett or Miss Bonham-Carter. A sort of simplicity without being, you know, sappy. It had to tick a lot of boxes. So it was gonna take a long time. I heard Lily James’ voice first. I thought, God, that’s a beautiful voice. Then she was a beautiful girl. She was very patient across a lot of auditions and things. Eventually it just became clear that she was the one.
Q: What was the most difficult scene to direct?
Kenneth: I think probably the ballroom sequence, because you knew that there would be so much expectation on it. You knew that practically speaking you were gonna have 500 people, half of whom were gonna be in corsets and that was gonna be a bit tricky. 500 people to the loo as well during the course of the day. Then get them back on set before wasting too much time. I knew that the dancing and then the sort of staging and the sense of our opulent it was and getting a sense of the glamour and the flamboyance of it was important. I wanted to take people to the ball. But I also knew that for me the scene was just as much about his hand on the small of her back in the beginning of that dance. So it was trying to keep that big large-scale ambitions with just wanting the human dynamic of the boy meets girl moment.
Q: What brought you to this project?
Kenneth: I think it was the surprise of being asked. I had long ago done Thor. I did a film called Jack Ryan. So a couple of quite boy-sy films. Being asked to do a girl’s film, if that’s not a stupid way of putting it. A fairytale and such a famous one, and I remembered a of couple things from Cinderella. I loved the chase back from the palace at midnight. I really remember in the original animated film the stepmother coming out of the dark with two blazing green eyes, at which she’s lying in bed. Cinderella brings her some tea. So I remember it being a bit scary and, but very exciting and fun. I was very aware also if you do a Disney film then you have a big responsibility. There’s gonna be a lot of kids seeing it for the first time and they all know the story as well. I’ve never made a film where the lights go down and you realize that everybody from five to 95 knows what’s gonna happen next. So it’s not about what happens next. It’s about how you do what happens next. So that was very exciting.
Q: Were there sound bites from the original animation?
Kenneth: No, well, you know what we did? It sounds a bit daft. We scripted the entire mice story through the movie. So Chris Weitz and I sat down, and we wrote words, dialogue for all four of the mice in every scene in which they appeared. Then we recorded them with actors a couple of different ways. Sometimes we made the actors say it very, very, very slowly so that when we then speeded it up to be in sort of mice squeak mode, you could just get a half a hint of what they say. So for instance Gus Gus at the end when he finally is persuaded that he shouldn’t eat the cheese and maybe he should jump on the back of the other three so they can open the window and they can hear Cinderella singing. He does something…..We do have a secret mouse play and screenplay inside the movie.
Q: It was refreshing to see Nonso Anozie in the movie.
Kenneth: Nonso is an actor who I worked with about 12 years ago in the theatre. He’d just come out of drama school. He’s a man mountain. He’s actually enormous, but a darling bloke. He’s a wonderful actor. He was also in my last film,Jack Ryan. I knew that he would play this kind of oak tree of a guy with a real twinkle in his eye. And also there’s very few people who can stand up to Cate Blanchett and say I’ll tell you what to do. Or I forbid it. Cate Blanchett actually turns around and looks rather scared. You know, so I knew that Nonso would be able to do that. He’s a big, good-hearted guy. He’s a wonderful actor.
Q: What was your favorite iconic image?
Kenneth: I felt very secure in the world of Sandy Powell and her amazing talent with the costumes. The determination to be very inventive about all of those things. So the kind of balance between finding this sort of classical approach–for instance, it sounds like a sort of simplistic question, but there was a big question about what color is that dress? You know, does it stay blue? The original was blue. What kind of blue? Is it pink? Because the mother’s dress is pink. Should it stay pink in order to honor her mother? How much do we want to see a pink dress for that amount of time in the ballroom sequence? What can we do with material? How magical can we make the material that is pink as opposed to blue or some other color? Those conversations were all had. It just becomes a stage-by-stage kind of process.
You felt quite a pressure with the slippers because,you’ve got ruby slippers. And you got other slippers in film history and it was gonna be a big moment. Sandy’s work with Swarovski, to find this kind of multi-faceted thing, which also has a heaviness. It was incredibly heavy, the real thing, and a very sort of multi-faceted thing, I think was really a stroke of genius. When we saw it for the first time it was very gasp inducing when we saw the actual object on a plinth that she presented it on. Actually even just walking from the coach up the steps and into the palace I think the sort of moment where she comes into her own.
REMEMBER Cinderella will waltz into theaters March 13, 2015
***Disclosure: I attended #CinderellaEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***