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KENNETH BRANAGH (Lee Simon) was born in Belfast, Ireland and raised in Reading, England. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and, in 1982, shortly after leaving RADA, he made his West End theatre debut in Julian Mitchell's "Another Country" for which he won the Society of West End Theatre's Award for the "Most Promising Newcomer." His other notable theatre performances during that time include: Tennyson's 'Maude' in "The Madness" and Julian Mitchell's "Francis" as well as performances for the RSC: "Henry V," "Love's Labours Lost," "Hamlet."

In 1987, Branagh and actor David Parfitt founded the Renaissance Theatre Company for which he wrote and starred in "Public Enemy" and directed "Twelfth Night," "The Life of Napoleon," and "Napoleon, the American Story." Other productions from Renaissance during this period include: "Much Ado About Nothing," "As You Like It," "Look Back in Anger," "King Lear," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Kenneth Branagh took the international film community by surprise in 1988 with his debut as a film director on "Henry V," which he also adapted in addition to playing the title role. Branagh was subsequently invited to Hollywood to direct his next film, "Dead Again" in which he co-starred with Emma Thompson and where he played the dual roles of a gumshoe detective in contemporary Los Angeles and a European composer in the 1940s.'

Branagh next went on to co-produce, direct and star in the ensemble film "Peter's Friends" which won the Evening Standard Peter Sellers Award for Comedy in 1992. That same year, he co-produced, directed and starred in "Much Ado About Nothing" together with Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves and Emma Thompson, which went on to become the most profitable Shakespeare adaptation in over two decades.

In 1994, Branagh directed Robert DeNiro in "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" and the following year he wrote and directed another ensemble piece "In The Bleak Midwinter" (A Midwinter's Tale) with Joan Collins, John Sessions, Richard Briers and Celia Imrie amongst others. Kenneth Branagh's other film work includes: Oliver Parker's "Othello," "A Month in the Country," "High Sea son," "Swing Kids," "Hamlet" (which he also directed, produced, wrote and starred in), "The Gingerbread Man," and "The Proposition." He will next be seen starring in Danny Boyle's "Alien Love Triangle" and "Theory of Flight."

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