When it comes to green living, Sir Kenneth Branagh admits, "That's Mrs. Branagh's department," but that's not to say he isn't concerned, and has done work on behalf of the environmental charity Arts for the Earth. "It's connected to Friends of the Earth. We've done several theater productions as a way of interesting people who are interested in the arts into having a look at the environment. It's a way through our access to audiences to have people look in a slightly different direction."
On Sept. 9, Branagh returns as Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in "Wallander III," the third installment of the PBS "Masterpiece Mystery!" series, based on Henning Mankell's novels. It kicks off with "An Event in Autumn," involving two cases: the death of a pregnant woman on a ferry and the discovery of remains from a long-ago murder in Wallander's garden. A fourth series is already in planning stages, adaptations of "The White Lioness," set in South Africa, and a two-parter based on "The Troubled Man," the ninth and last of the novels.
Also an executive producer on the series, Branagh enjoys wearing many hats, including director. Having recently directed "Thor," he's now doing the same on "Jack Ryan," starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and himself. "It's an origin story that allows us to understand how Jack Ryan, created by Tom Clancy — who is very much involved with this version — develops into a CIA analyst. So this is him before joining the CIA, and it's a very contemporary action thriller," he says.
Branagh has found that he learns "about acting in a different way through directing and that that element of performance is something that interests me very much — the visual, the oral, and the story content. There's a very profound sense of sort of creating something. It's different from acting, where you give yourself to the process differently if you're an actor in film, differently again if you're an actor in theater," he says, hoping to do more plays, including Shakespeare "sooner than later. But for me, it's all kind of connected to trying to have a passionate engagement with what you think is good work and what you think you can enjoy, tell a story with, and perhaps that might mean something or touch people in some way."