Kenneth Branagh has paid tribute to the late Stan Lee, hailing his “astonishing life force”.
Lee passed away on November 12 at the age of 95, with news of the Marvel mogul’s death prompting an array of tributes from across the entertainment world.
Branagh has now paid his own tribute to Lee in a small piece for Empire. The actor and filmmaker – who directed the 2011 MCU film Thor – recalled his memories of working with Lee on set in a touching tribute piece.
“The life force was astonishing, his concentration electric,” Branagh remembered. “He answered all my questions about him and the great Kirby, his collaborator of genius, and of course we talked about what Stan’s cameo would be in the new Thor movie. He wanted something Shakespearean. I told him he could do whatever he wanted, but as one of the great American originals, we might start with that.
“In the end, when it came to his role, Stan, as a crusty cowboy countryman, tried with frustration to drive a pick-up truck out of a crater, where it was attached to Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. I figured if anyone on Earth could shift that hammer who wasn’t a mythic Norseman, it would be Stan Lee. But even he couldn’t do it.
“Instead he brought the house down with a comic one-liner — channelling W.C. Fields crossed with P.T. Barnum — and left the car [see the cameo below].
“At the end of our day of work together he gave me a hug, said I should cast him as Hamlet, and that we’d make a fortune out of a new Danish comic,” Branagh added. “I started to tell him I’d think about it, but before I could finish the sentence, he’d been swept up in a massive crowd of admirers (that day’s crowd artists). He was danced away like Fred Astaire impersonating the Pied Piper.
“I assumed this day was being wiped from his mind even as we spoke, but at his car, he turned before getting in, stood tall on the footplate, above the crowds, and yelled back to me, ‘Hey, kid (he always called me kid), you, me and Billy Shakespeare — pretty good team, don’t you think?'”
Last week, Marvel boss Kevin Feige recounted his final-ever meeting with Stan Lee.