Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh returns to theaters this week with his new original movie Belfast, a tender black-and-white coming of age drama that he made in-between Disney movies Artemis Fowl and Death on the Nile. Inspired by his own life and growing up in the capital of Northern Ireland, Branagh tapped actor Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) to play the parents of Buddy, the young character that serves as his proxy in the story. Speaking with ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview, the pair revealed how the universal narrative of the movie and how its lead character saw his parents as a young person was something that spoke to both of them.
"I think by the time I finished the script I was in tears," Balfe said. "A lot to do with the fact that I've also left Ireland and thinking about the decisions that bring all of us to those things and you just feel so nostalgic. But I thought a lot about my own parents, my grandparents. I think Ken has done something really beautiful where he's made a very specific story about one family but it resonates in a very universal way."
Dornan added, "Caitriona and I have similar lives from sort of late teens to this point, similar trajectory in our careers. I too made a decision twenty years ago to leave Ireland and I remember how difficult that was but how necessary I felt it was to pursue what it was I wanted to pursue. Definitely that idea of, I remember being convinced that my dad was the strongest person in the world, he definitely wasn't, but you do put your parents on a pedestal if you're lucky enough to have a strong foundation like I was lucky enough to have. They were elevated, I'm not sure I saw them in the sort of matinee idol light maybe that Ken saw his, but I recognize seeing them as something higher and different from what your day to day is.
Written and directed by Branagh, Belfast is described as "the humorous, tender and intensely personal story of one boy's childhood during the tumult of the late 1960s in the city of Branagh's birth." Focus Features will debut the film on Friday, November 12. A description from the studio reads as follows:
"BELFAST is a movie straight from Branagh's own experience. A nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music and the formative magic of the movies remain."