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Interview with Director Kenneth Branagh: Cinderella in Theathers March 13th #CinderellaEvent

Disney provided me with an all expense paid trip to L.A. to attend the #CinderellaEvent in exchange for my coverage.  No other compensation is given and all opinions in my posts are 100% my own.  Disclosure Policy.
Photo- Jana Seitzer of
After having a few celebrity interviews under my belt, I have to admit, there are moments when I get butterflies before the talent walks into the room.  This was the case when I, along with 24 other bloggers, had the chance to interview Sir Kenneth Branagh and discuss his latest project; directing Cinderella. (In theaters March 13th!)

Best known for his Shakespearean projects, Sir Kenneth Branagh gallantly walked in and in true “Knight in Shining Armor” fashion, put all the butterflies at ease.  The first thing he did was inquire on us, stating, “How is everyone this morning?  Good?  Have you had a good time? Good, thank you, thank you. Great.”  What a gentleman.  The interview only went up from there.  He was entertaining, charismatic and handsome to boot!  Here are some snippets from the interview.


Photo- Disney
What brought you to this project?
I think it was the surprise of being asked. I hadn’t long ago done Thor and I did a film called Jack Ryan.  So, a couple of quite boy-sy films. And being asked to do a girl’s film, if that’s not a stupid way of putting it, and a fairytale and such a famous one.  I remembered a of couple things from Cinderella. I loved the chase back from the 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. I remember it being a bit scary 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. That was very exciting.


Photo- Disney
The casting process


I had an idea of how Cinderella should be.  We knew that it would take a while and that you had to really feel 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. And because of the way we were slightly re-imagining the character’s personality, she needed to have a good sense of humor, an approachable beauty, kindness, passion and strength.  And that she could stand up in a scene with Miss Blanchett or Miss Bonham-Carter.
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 and then she was a beautiful girl.  She was very patient across a lot of auditions and eventually it just became clear that she was the one.

Photo- Disney
What brought you to cast Richard Madden?
Apart from very blue eyes and very tight trousers? [LAUGHTER]  Actually, they weren’t his own trousers.  He had intelligence and wit.  Also, he relished the idea of how you might sort of play a gentleman.  He wasn’t striving hard to be a certain modern kind of cool.
I think both these actors, I love the idea that they were prepared to be uncynical in the film and just sort of respond directly to each other.  That a gallantry, a courtship, the desire to woo, to serve, to listen were things that he felt could be played very positively and would be very, very attractive.  In a way, there was a natural disposition in the world of the piece that we presented for him to love her.
He was able to do that and not see that as suddenly rendering him the love interest.  It was a very powerful thing to be somebody listening, looking, and reacting with the screen time that he has.  I think it’s very touching and wonderful chemistry between them.  He was somebody I felt could do this thing we needed to do, of having a man who earned Cinderella’s respect and love. 


 Were there sound bites from the original animation?


Well, you know what we did? It sounds a bit daft. But we scripted the entire mice story through the movie. 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 sped it would be in sort of mice squeak mode.
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.  There were a few little throw away remarks like that.  Although, sometimes you do stuff unconsciously. I don’t think that we went back and raided mice remarks from the original movie. But there is a secret mouse play and screenplay inside the movie.


Photo- Jana Seitzer of
Cinderella & Frozen Fever in theaters March 13, 2015.
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