Branagh lands a new deal with FDR film role

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The Independent Online

The Americans have turned to the British actor Kenneth Branagh to play the part of one of their greatest presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt.

The Americans have turned to the British actor Kenneth Branagh to play the part of
one of their greatest presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt.

The classical actor now known to millions of children as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter will step into the former president's shoes for a television movie being made
by the US channel HBO,
producer of dramas such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

Although Roosevelt is best known for steering his country to recovery after the 1929 Wall Street crash and as a wartime leader, it is understood the film will focus on the years before he was elected to the White House in 1932.

Production is due to begin in the autumn, The Hollywood Reporter newspaper said yesterday, with the film due
to be shown in the US early next year.

It will not be the first time Branagh has adopted an American accent. He was credited with a credible stab in Woody Allen's film Celebrity as well as in movies such as The Gingerbread Man and Dead Again.

Roosevelt, who was born in 1882, entered politics in 1910, winning election to the New York Senate. President Woodrow Wilson made him assistant secretary of the navy and he was the Democrat nominee for vice-president in 1920. But disaster struck in 1921, when he was 39. He contracted polio and only recovered the use of his legs through indomitable courage.

Yet he went on to be elected the 32nd American president in November 1932 at the height of the Depression. In his first 100 days, he proposed and Congress enacted the "New Deal", a dramatic recovery programme to get the nation working and provide relief to those who werre unemployed.

He went on to serve four terms as president, playing a significant role in plans for the establishment of the United Nations at the end of the war. But his health deteriorated
and he died in April 1945 at
his home in Warm Springs, Georgia, from a brain haemorrhage.

Kenneth Branagh, the Belfast-born, Rada-trained thespian once acclaimed as the natural successor to Laurence Olivier, has enjoyed a busy schedule recently. He appeared on the London stage last year for the first time in a decade in David Mamet's play Edmond. He also appeared in the Australian movie Rabbit-Proof Fence and is scheduled for a role in the forthcoming Mission: Impossible 3.

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