In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

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  • Nov 8, 1989
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Cast & Crew

  • Derek JacobiActor

    Preeminent British classical actor of the first post-Olivier generation, Derek Jacobi was knighted in 1994 for his services to the theatre, and, in fact, is only the second to enjoy the honor of holding TWO knighthoods, Danish and English (Olivier was the other). Modest and unassuming in nature, Jacobi's firm place in theatre history centers around his fearless display of his characters' more unappealing aspects, their great flaws, eccentricities and, more often than not, their primal torment. Jacobi was born in Leytonstone, London, England, the only child of Alfred George Jacobi, a department store manager, and Daisy Gertrude (Masters) Jacobi, a secretary. His paternal great-grandfather was German (from Hoxter, Germany). His interest in drama began while quite young. He made his debut at age six in the local library drama group production of "The Prince and the Swineherd" in which he appeared as both the title characters. In his teens he attended Leyton County High School and eventually joined the school's drama club ("The Players of Leyton"). Derek portrayed Hamlet at the English National Youth Theatre prior to receiving his high school diploma, and earned a scholarship to the University of Cambridge, where he initially studied history before focusing completely on the stage. A standout role as Edward II at Cambridge led to an invite by the Birmingham Repertory in 1960 following college graduation. He made an immediate impression wherein his Henry VIII (both in 1960) just happened to catch the interest of Olivier himself, who took him the talented actor under his wing. Derek became one of the eight founding members of Olivier's National Theatre Company and gradually rose in stature with performances in "The Royal Hunt of the Sun," "Othello" (as Cassio) and in "Hay Fever", among others. He also made appearances at the Chichester Festival and the Old Vic. It was Olivier who provided Derek his film debut, recreating his stage role of Cassio in Olivier's acclaimed cinematic version of Othello (1965). Olivier subsequently cast Derek in his own filmed presentation of Chekhov's Three Sisters (1970). On TV Derek was in celebrated company playing Don John in Much Ado About Nothing (1967) alongside Maggie Smith and then-husband Robert Stephens; Derek had played the role earlier at the Chichester Festival in 1965. After eight eventful years at the National Theatre, which included such sterling roles as Touchstone in "As You Like It", Jacobi left the company in 1971 in order to attract other mediums. He continued his dominance on stage as Ivanov, Richard III, Pericles and Orestes (in "Electra"), but his huge breakthrough would occur on TV. Coming into his own with quality support work in Man of Straw (1972), The Strauss Family (1972) and especially the series The Pallisers (1974) in which he played the ineffectual Lord Fawn, Derek's magnificence was presented front and center in the epic BBC series I, Claudius (1976). His stammering, weak-minded Emperor Claudius was considered a work of genius and won, among other honors, the BAFTA award. Although he was accomplished in The Day of the Jackal (1973) and The Odessa File (1974), films would place a distant third throughout his career. Stage and TV, however, would continue to illustrate his classical icon status. Derek took his Hamlet on a successful world tour throughout England, Egypt, Sweden, Australia, Japan and China; in some of the afore-mentioned countries he was the first actor to perform the role in English. TV audiences relished his performances as Richard II (1978) and, of course Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980). After making his Broadway bow in "The Suicide" in 1980, Derek suffered from an alarming two-year spell of stage fright. He returned, however, and toured as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company (1982-1985) with award-winning results. During this period he collected Broadway's Tony Award for his Benedick in "Much Ado about Nothing"; earned the coveted Olivier, Drama League and Helen Hayes awards for his Cyrano de Bergerac; and earned equal acclaim for his Prospero in "The Tempest" and Peer Gynt. In 1986, he finally made his West End debut in "Breaking the Code" for which he won another Helen Hayes trophy; the play was then brought to Broadway. For the rest of the 80s and 90s, he laid stage claim to such historical figures as Lord Byron, Edmund Kean and Thomas Becket. On TV he found resounding success (and an Emmy nomination) as Adolf Hitler in Inside the Third Reich (1982), and finally took home the coveted Emmy opposite Anthony Hopkins in the WWII drama The Tenth Man (1988). He won a second Emmy in an unlikely fashion by spoofing his classical prowess on an episode of "Frasier" (his first guest performance on American TV), in which he played the unsubtle and resoundingly bad Shakespearean actor Jackson Hedley. Kenneth Branagh was greatly influenced by mentor Jacobi and their own association would include Branagh's films Henry V (1989), Dead Again (1991), and Hamlet (1996), the latter playing Claudius to Branagh's Great Dane. Derek also directed Branagh in the actor's Renaissance Theatre Company's production of "Hamlet". In the 1990s Derek returned to the Chichester Festival, this time as artistic director, and made a fine showing in the title role of Uncle Vanya (1996). More heralded work of late include profound portrayals of the anguished titular painter in Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998), the role of Gracchus in the popular, Oscar-winning film Gladiator (2000), and sterling performances in such films as Two Men Went to War (2002), Bye Bye Blackbird (2005), The Riddle (2007), Endgame (2009), The King's Speech (2010), Jail Caesar (2012), and as the King in Cinderella (2015). Continuing to mesmerize on the stage, he has turned in superb performances in "Uncle Vanya" (2000), Friedrich Schiller's "Don Carlos" (2005), _A Voyage 'Round My Father (2006), "Twelfth Night" (2009) and the title role in "King Lear" (2010). On the British TV series front, he has commanded more recent attention in the title role of a crusading monk in the mystery series Mystery!: Cadfael (1994), as Lord Pirrie in Titanic: Blood and Steel (2012), as Alan in Last Tango in Halifax (2012), and as Stuart Bixby in Vicious (2013). He and his life-time companion of three decades, Richard Clifford, filed as domestic partners in England in 2006. Clifford, a fine classical actor and producer in his own right, has shared movie time with Jacobi in Little Dorrit (1987), Henry V (1989), and the TV version of Cyrano de Bergerac (1985).
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  • Kenneth BranaghActor

    Kenneth Charles Branagh was born on December 10, 1960, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to parents William Branagh, a plumber and carpenter, and Frances (Harper), both born in 1930. He has two siblings, William Branagh, Jr. (born 1955) and Joyce Branagh (born 1970). When he was nine, his family escaped The Troubles by moving to Reading, Berkshire, England. At 23, Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he took on starring roles in "Henry V" and "Romeo and Juliet". He soon found the RSC too large and impersonal and formed his own, the Renaissance Theatre Company, which now counts Prince Charles as one of its royal patrons. At 29, he directed Henry V (1989), where he also co-starred with his then-wife, Emma Thompson. The film brought him Best Actor and Best Director Oscar nominations. In 1993, he brought Shakespeare to mainstream audiences again with his hit adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (1993), which featured an all-star cast that included, among others, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton and Keanu Reeves. At 30, he published his autobiography and, at 34, he directed and starred as "Victor Frankenstein" in the big-budget adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), with Robert De Niro as the monster himself. In 1996, Branagh wrote, directed and starred in a lavish adaptation of Hamlet (1996). His superb film acting work also includes a wide range of roles such as in Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Valkyrie (2008) and his stunning portrayal of Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011), where once again he offered a great performance that was also nominated for an Academy Award.
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  • Simon ShepherdActor

  • Judi DenchActor

    Dame Judi Dench was born Judith Olivia Dench in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and at Old Vic Theatre. She is a ten-time BAFTA winner including Best Actress in a Comedy Series for A Fine Romance (1981) in which she appeared with her husband, Michael Williams, and Best Supporting Actress in A Handful of Dust (1988) and A Room with a View (1985). She received an ACE award for her performance in the television series Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill (1985). She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1970, a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1988 and a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in 2005.
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  • Paul ScofieldActor

  • Robbie ColtraneActor

    Robbie Coltrane, one of Britain's most popular comedians who was head of debating society at school and won prizes for his art, is now a film star who played in two James Bond films and in the "Harry Potter" franchise. Coltrane was born Anthony Robert McMillan on March 30, 1950, in Rutherglen, a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. His mother, Jean Ross (Howie), was a teacher and pianist. His father, Ian Baxter McMillan, was a general surgeon who also worked for police pathology. Young Robbie was fond of art, music, films and cars. He was a voracious reader of his dad's books on medicine and crime. At age 12 he made his acting debut on stage at Glenalmond College, delivering rants from "Henry V". At that time he was fascinated with Marlon Brando and Orson Welles. He attended Glasgow Art School, majoring in drawing, painting and film, then studied art at Edinburgh's Moray House College of Education for a year. In 1973 he made a documentary titled "Young Mental Health", which was voted Film Of The Year by the Scottish Education Council. At that time Robbie took the name Coltrane, due to his love of jazz, and began a career of a stand-up comedian at night clubs, at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as an actor with Edinburgh's renowned Traverse Theatre. In 1980 Coltrane made his debut on television as "Border Guard" in BBC's mini-series The Lost Tribe (1980), then made his big screen debut as a limousine driver in Death Watch (1980). In 1981 he appeared in his first leading role as Detective Fritz Langley in Subway Riders (1981), by famed underground director Amos Poe. He became a well-known face through appearances in The Comic Strip series, then in Alfresco (1983) and Comic Strip movies The Supergrass (1985) and The Pope Must Diet (1991), among other films. At that time Coltrane had a drinking problem, downing as much as a bottle of whiskey a day. In 1986 he flew to a clinic in Mexico and was treated for obesity. In 1987 his partner for 15 years, Robin Paine, left him for good, leaving her portrait in Coltrane's barn. In 1988 Coltrane met then 18-year-old Rhona Gemmell in a pub. They married and had a son, Spencer, and a daughter, Alice. His career took off during the early 1990s with the leading role as Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, a forensic psychologist, in the popular TV series Cracker (1993). He made such a good performance as Valentin Zukovsky, a KGB man turned St. Petersburg mafia lord, in GoldenEye (1995) the producers called him back for the same character in The World Is Not Enough (1999). Then Coltrane hit another lucrative franchise; he was personally selected by J.K. Rowling as her choice to play half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in the 'Harry Potter' films. In early 1990s Coltrane wrote an autobiography, "Coltrane in a Cadillac", and also starred in the eponymous TV series, Coltrane in a Cadillac (1993), in which he indulges his passion for vintage cars and tells with great humor about his 4000-mile journey across America from Los Angeles to New York. In 2003 he separated from his wife. His interests outside of his acting profession has been reading books, and rebuilding and collecting vintage cars. Robbie Coltrane resides in a converted farmhouse in Stirlingshire, Scotland, UK.
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  • Richard BriersActor

  • Robert StephensActor

  • Alec McCowenActor

  • Brian BlessedActor

    Boisterous British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. A giant of a man accompanied by an eloquent wit and booming, operatic voice, Brian was born in 1936 and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe in South Yorkshire. His father was a miner who wanted a better life for his son; Brian lost three uncles in the pit. At a young age, he displayed an acute talent for acting in school productions, but also had a penchant for boxing, a direction that would be short-lived. Working various blue-collar jobs from undertaker's assistant to plasterer, Brian managed to attend the Bristol Old Vic and was off and running. He has lent his musical talents to several productions - from playing "Old Deuteronomy" in "Cats" to "The Baron" in the more recent "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". In the 1970s, he began appearing more and more on-camera with both classical and contemporary performances. In costumed television movies, he has played "Porthos" in The Three Musketeers (1966) and The Further Adventures of the Musketeers (1967), "Augustus" in I, Claudius (1976), and "Long John Silver" in Return to Treasure Island (1986) and has been a part of various reenactments including Catherine the Great (1995), Lady Chatterley (1993), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983) and Kidnapped (1995). On film, he has appeared in robust support in several William Shakespeare adaptations, including Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and Macbeth (1997). He is married to British actress Hildegard Neil, who made an appearance with him in Macbeth (1997). More recently, he appeared in Oliver Stone's epic-scale Alexander (2004) and in Kenneth Branagh's film version of William Shakespeare's As You Like It (2006).
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