Sir Kenneth Branagh has spoken to the New York Post about playing Sir Laurence Olivier – the actor to whom Branagh has so often been compared – and co-star Michelle Williams, in My Week With Marilyn.
“I play Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, which we’ve finished and is out this autumn.
Marilyn is Marilyn Monroe. Michelle Williams plays her. It’s the true behind-the-scenes story of when Olivier directed Marilyn in The Prince and the Showgirl. We filmed in London’s Pinewood Studios, where more than 50 years earlier the movie had been actually shot.
This is a trip back in time and quite touching. Especially for me since I never expected to play Olivier. They dressed me in full rig-out. On the set, Michelle even called me ‘Sir.’
A script supervisor on that original movie who’d been close to Olivier watched our filming. Understand, she’d actually viewed first-hand the world’s then arguably greatest movie star and greatest director. Michelle had now gotten Marilyn down perfectly. The blond curls, slinky walk, everything. At one point, off to a side waiting, we suddenly turned around. There, backlit, was Michelle. This script supervisor gasped, ‘My God, it’s Marilyn!’ “
According to Films For Women, though, Branagh steals the show:
“Branagh is the surprise of the film. He’s wonderful as Laurence Olivier — just brilliant. Like Williams, he doesn’t look much like his real-life character but unlike her, he’s aided by superior writing. He also perfectly mimics Olivier’s facial mannerisms and voice and hamminess to the extent that you forget you’re looking at Branagh. He steals every scene he’s in and is the reason to see this movie…
Williams is an excellent actress but she’s miscast as Marilyn. Although lovely and luminous, she doesn’t have the right bombshell charisma, the traffic-stopping star wattage that made Monroe a celluloid icon. Not only that, the writing for Marilyn is trite and weak — she never comes across as anything but a cipher.”