Northern Ireland is lucky to have Kenneth Branagh as an ambassador

News Letter editorial of Saturday January 22 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

From Stephen Boyd to Liam Neeson, some Northern Ireland have found fame in Hollywood.

Ken Branagh is one of the most successful of them all. He has played lead roles in Shakespeare film adaptations, he has acted in blockbusters, and he has directed too. What a talent!

Branagh has talked about how he lost his Northern Irish accent as a child when his family moved to England when he was aged nine. But despite that normal child-like reaction to moving to a new life in a new location, Sir Ken’s enduring affection for the Province has never been in doubt.

He helped to make his name with a fine performance in the memorable 1980s BBC production of Graeme Reid’s ‘Billy’ Plays, set in Belfast.

While most of his career has been in England or America, Branagh has returned regularly to the place in which he spent his early childhood. He has been an unstinting supporter of the arts here, both during the tail end of the Troubles and in the years in which we have emerged from them.

Now Sir Ken has brought together top local acting talent including Ciaran Hinds and Jamie Dornan to tell a story based on his time in Belfast, as the violence flared. The film has been well received in the US — Stephen Colbert of the prime time Late Show said it was his best film of 2021.

We report today on its release here and how early audiences say they like it too. Northern Ireland is fortunate to have a great film maker, Branagh, as an ambassador.

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