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Josh Gad and Nonso Anozie on Working with Kenneth Branagh Again in Artemis Fowl

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Kenneth Branagh has assembled some of his frequent collaborators for his new Disney+ film Artemis Fowl, including the likes of Josh Gad (Murder on the Orient Express), Judi Dench (Henry V, Hamlet, All Is True) and Nonso Anozie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Cinderella). While on the set of Artemis Fowl in London, Branagh’s cast discussed what continues to bring them back to working with the director.Gad previously worked with Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express, which Branagh both directed and starred in. “Sir Kenneth Branagh is one of the greatest directors I’ve ever worked with, because he understands what it is to be an actor, so he can communicate directly to you in a way that is very familiar, in a way that speaks to both your strengths and your weaknesses,” said Gad. “There’s an understanding there, a shared common ground, that makes the process really relatable and easy and familiar.”

Watch a new clip for Artemis Fowl below:The biggest change for Gad between films was that Branagh was directing behind the camera, not in front of it. That, and the massive mustache Gad had to wear for his character Mulch Diggums, a giant (read: human-sized) dwarf. “There were a number of things that drew me to the project. Frankly, I’d always wanted to play in a world like this, a high-concept fantasy world,” said Gad. “It’s such a fun playground, very different than Orient Express, because, one, we didn’t have trolls or goblins in Orient Express — although that’s on the director’s cut, I believe. But the idea that all of this is practical. … There’s a giant puppet created by the War Horse guys, which I think is the coolest thing ever. And so to be able to interact with something like that, it’s so fun as an actor.”

Anozie first worked with Branagh in 2003’s National Theater production of David Mamet’s Edmond. Since that experience Branagh has pushed for Anozie to have a role in “anything you’re right for,” Anozie recalled, which led to roles in four of Branagh’s last five movies. In Artemis Fowl, he plays Domovoi Butler, the bodyguard and guardian of Ferdia Shaw’s titular Artemis Fowl.

“I think whatever you’re working on with Kenneth Branagh is gonna be hard work because he won’t stop shooting something until he gets exactly how he wants it. You have a clear idea of what he wants — the style of the piece; how, if you’re pushing outside of the barrier of how things should be, he’d prefer you to go bigger and come back rather than not get it at all,” Anozie said. “I think there’s more naturalism in [Artemis Fowl], even though we’re in the world of fairies. I think it’s a naturalistic style of acting.”

Dench, meanwhile, plays the head of the fairy police force LEPrecon, Commander Root. While Dench wasn’t available to interview on the set of Artemis Fowl, in the past she has had similar kind words to say about working with Branagh. As she told The Los Angeles Times during an interview for 2019’s All Is True, “I just run to work with him. With most directors you get to have a shorthand, but we had a shorthand very, very quickly. He can say something and I know what he means, and likewise. It’s just lovely to do it. I’ve directed him, been in plays with him, been directed by him – we’ve done a lot of things together. Ten or 11, I think. It’s lucky.”

Disney Plus Spotlight: June 2020

Artemis Fowl debuts on Disney+ on June 12. In addition to Gad, Anozie and Dench, Artemis Fowl stars Ferdia Shaw, Colin Farrell, Lara McDonnell, Miranda Raison and Hong Chau. For more on Artemis Fowl, here’s why Artemis Fowl is more of a superhero and less of a villain in the movie, and how Thor influenced Kenneth Branagh more than Harry Potter in his adaptation process. If you don’t have the streaming service, you can sign up for a free 14-day Disney+ trial.

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