The last time Kenneth Branagh turned up at a TCA event, he was promoting HBO’s “As You Like It,” a project that he directed and for which he provided the script adaptation from the original Shakespeare play. This time, however, he’s in front of the camera, starring as the titular character in “Wallander,” the “Masterpiece Mystery!” production based on Henning Mankell’s novels about Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander.
There have been plenty of “Wallander” films made in Sweden, but this is the first time the books have received an adaptation for an English-language audience, and given how many Wallander adventures there are (eight novels, several short stories), this has the potential to be a lengthy gig for Branagh.
But does he want such a gig?
“I’d certainly be very, very happy to make some more of them,” he said. “I get rather superstitious about assuming the audiences may want to watch it for years to come. I think that when we approached it, we were very aware of how many excellent detective stories there have been on television and that we had to really earn our right to be there. There are another seven books that could potentially be adapted. And I think we would very much like to and are very much looking forward to planning another three. But when we all met as a creative team just before Christmas and had a chance to sort of debrief after the screening of the three films in the UK, I think we were very thrilled with the reaction, which had been very positive, and very excited about that, but we did feel there was an enormous amount of work still do, excitingly to do, in terms of developing the character. So I think we’ll just…if we’re lucky and, as my mother would say, if God spares us, we’ll take the next three, if we can, and do them and hopefully learn from some of the things that we wanted to develop on this time. Whether that then develops into years to come remains to be seen.”
Branagh’s “Wallander” co-star, Tom Hiddleston (who plays Martinsson), showed his age when discussing how the two had worked together briefly in the 2001 TV production, “Conspiracy.”