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Hasta la vista, baby: Branagh brings back Boris in This England'

23/01/2023

Hasta la vista, baby: Branagh brings back Boris in This England' Prosthetics and a very good, very bad hairpiece': Kenneth Branagh's Boris Johnson transformation is something to behold in This England'.

by Cornelia Le Roux

23-01-2023 23:48

in Entertainment

Boris Johnson, left, and actor Kenneth Branagh playing the role of the former UK prime minister in This England'. Images: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP and Showmax/ Supplied

Boris Johnson may have stepped down as British prime minister with the cheeky words Hasta la vista, baby! after he was ousted as Tory leader, but he has returned in a different on-screen guise. Now streaming on Showmax, This England stars the 2022 Oscar winner Sir Kenneth Branagh (Belfast, Dunkirk) as Johnson with the help of heavy facial prosthetics, a barelling hunch and a very good, very bad hairpiece!

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According to Mail Online, a total of 42 complex prosthetic faces was especially made for Branagh. Makeup artist Vanessa White is quoted as stating:

There are so many pieces The only thing you see of Ken is his eyes and his chin, the rest is fake We had to tape him in, literally tape up the back of his neck, his head.

Kenneth Branagh, winner of the Writing (Original Screenplay) award for Belfast', poses backstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on 27 March 2022 in Hollywood, California. Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images/AFP ALSO READ: Oscars 2022: Complete list of winners from Hollywood's biggest night

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This England': Boris a life-changing part' for Branagh Co-written and directed by BAFTA winner Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, In This World), This England blends dramatisation with real documentary footage of the tumultuous first wave of COVID-19 in Britain that engulfed Johnson during his first months as prime minister.

As per Radio Times, Branagh confessed that playing Johnson in the Sky series was a life-changing part for him.

Star-studded cast and rave reviews

In their five-star review, The Evening Standard calls This England, splendid television, history distilled on screen, saying, Watch it and weep .

Times (UK) has already praised Kenneth Branagh's barrelling, air-punching, at times uncanny Boris Johnson impression, while bloated with pouchy prosthetics and fat pads as well as the series' heart-breaking authenticity .

As Gabriel Silver, Sky's director of drama, described it: This England is a broad and deep factual drama about those tasked to shepherd a nation through the crisis - exposing humanity at its most scared, neglectful, ingenious, desperate, and hopeful

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The rest of the cast includes Ophelia Lovibond (Minx) co-stars as Johnson's wife, Carrie Symonds, with award winner Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch, Industry, Andrew Parker Bowles in The Crown) as Matt Hancock. Emmy nominee Charles Dance (The Crown's Lord Mountbatten and Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones) steps in as newspaper editor Max Hastings in episode 1.

Ophelia Lovibond and Kenneth Branagh in a scene from This England'. Image: Supplied This England': Much bigger than Boris Johnson much bigger than the actor Winterbottom approached Branagh about the project in late 2020. Despite the show's scope, Johnson is central to the story, and the challenge to portray this hugely divisive public figure without taking sides, became one of Branagh's biggest challenges.

As the actor himself put it:

It doesn't matter whether we do or not, because people who love or hate Boris Johnson will probably find that this corresponds to exactly what they feel about him.

For some, it will glorify him; for others it will have libelled him. They'll see what they see. But certainly, in the doing of it, the goal was decidedly not to bring any additional spin or commentary on something that was much, much bigger than Boris Johnson certainly a zillion times bigger than any actor.

ALSO READ: British PM Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19

Kenneth Branagh as former UK prime minister Boris Johnson in This England'. Image: Supplied ALSO READ: SA group gives 120 000 meals to NHS and the vulnerable - but now they need our help

The pandemic world Branagh had the following to say about the vulnerable state of the world that inspired the gripping pandemic drama series,

In that early part of the pandemic, which was such a vulnerable moment for the world, we didn't know quite what was coming, how fast it was coming, how deadly it was, what the real existential threat was to our lives or to our economic futures.

Everyone felt that most people were doing the very best they could Although subsequently you might argue about whether that best was good enough, against the rush of events, much of it was reactive.

It was more about the cataclysmic effect of the rapidity, the ferocious rapidity at which things moved. We really weren't ready for the volatility, for the changing information and seeing that impact across the country, Branagh added

ALSO READ: 1.1m people infected with Covid-19 in England, daily cases top 60,000 for first time

From Branagh to Boris: Masterful combination of acting and makeup Just like Brendan Fraser, who transformed into the morbidly obese English teacher Charlie in The Whale with the heavy use of prosthetics, Branagh's physical transformation into Johnson took a combination of acting and extensive makeup.

Although they're of similar height, the actor explained that Johnson is a stockier individual than me, a sort of swift and, some would say, lumbering rugger forward. We all saw him take out that young schoolboy playing street rugby in Japan That's a sort of extreme example of a man who leans forward, who barrels rather. That's the impression you have he leads with the shoulders, head down.

Boris Jo
LINK: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/culture/entertainment/this-england-ken...
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