Anthony Hopkins would call Kenneth Branagh "the general" when he came onto the set of Thor, Branagh's adaptation of the Marvel comic book about the Norse god superhero.
"Ken is such an engaging character, a wonderful actor and director," says Hopkins, who plays Thor's father, Odin. "He's one of those guys with the command about him but is a very human guy. He's a bloke, as they say in England, with a great sense of humor on the set."
Branagh, whose résumé includes numerous film versions of Shakespeare plays — Hamlet and Henry V among them — might seem an odd choice to take the helm of a big-budget, special effects-laden movie, but the director-actor says a desire to bring a certain "kind of detail to this movie was key."
"Indeed, everyone who welcomed me into that world and recommended that I should do the film said don't worry about visual effects, don't worry about the scale, don't worry about all those things that are relatively new to you," says Branagh, 50. Instead, they told him to "concentrate on story and character and performance, because that is what will make something like this distinct."
He says what attracted him to Thor was the family elements — something that is familiar in Shakespeare. "In this case," Branagh says, "it's a family that has a big public and epic connection to their universe; so their problems become everyone's problems. I've always been interested in that, whether in my work in the theater or film."
Thor retails for $29.99 or $44.99 Blu-ray.