In advance of next Monday’s announcement of the Olivier Awards nominations, comes the news that Kenneth Branagh is to be feted with the Special Award at the April 9 ceremony at Royal Albert Hall. This caps off his 35-year association with these top theater honors.
Back in 1982, he was named Best Newcomer. Since then, he has proven repeatedly that the jury made the right choice, having contended four times individually. And his recently formed theater company reaped eight bids at last year’s awards.
In making the announcement, Caro Newling, president of the organization responsible for the administration of the Olivier Awards, said, “The Society of London Theatre is delighted to formally celebrate Kenneth Branagh’s outstanding contribution to London theatre. Whether acting or directing, there is no greater advocate for our industry.”
Branagh has also earned five Oscar nominations over the years as both director and actor, including one for playing Laurence Olivier in “My Week with Marilyn.” Most recently, he helmed “Thor” and the Disney live-action remake of “Cinderella.” Up next, he both directs and stars in a remake of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Among those in that starry cast is Judi Dench, who won her seventh competitive Oliver last year for for her performance as Paulina in “The Winter’s Tale” opposite Branagh in his production of the Shakespearean play.
She previously prevailed in 1977 for “Macbeth,” 1980 for “Juno and the Paycock,” 1983 for “Pack of Lies,” 1987 for “Antony and Cleopatra,” 1995 for “A Little Night Music” and 1996 for “Absolute Hell.” And she was feted with the Special Award in 2004. Other past recipients of the Special Award include Ian McKellen and Stephen Sondheim.