Born On This Day — December 10

Richard Attenborough & Branagh Making 'Hamlet' (1996)
Richard Attenborough and Kenneth Branagh making Hamlet (1996)

People often ask me, “Why do you keep doing Shakespeare?” Well, because it’s meaningful to me. That to do it well—or even just to work on it—I find very life-enhancing. I don’t have any kind of conventional religious belief and I find Shakespeare’s a tremendous source of inspiration, because there’s no situation that I’ve come up against that somehow hasn’t been described in those plays. When I do work on it, it’s like going back to some great piece of music. It is dramatic poetry, so each time you hear it, it reacts on you in a different, usually a richer, way. It’s like a wonderful dog that gives you much more than you’ll ever give it. There’s unconditional love in there; he never lets you down and he’s never sentimental; he’s always bracing because he’s so very, very realistic about families and love and all the normal human stuff.

—Kenneth Branagh