Belfast: Kenneth Branagh, Cast on Everlasting Love

Jamie Dornan (left) stars as "Pa" and Caitriona Balfe (right) stars as "Ma" in director Kenneth Branagh's BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Photo credit: Rob Youngson / Focus Features

During a Critics Choice Association press conference for Belfast, Kenneth Branagh, Caitríona Balfe, and Jamie Dornan discussed “Everlasting Love.”

While this question wasn’t answered by newcomer Jude Hill, both he and Ciarán Hinds were also in attendance. Hinds briefly chimes in about why he didn’t show up for the scene in question.

The press conference, moderated by Scott Mantz, was exclusive to Critics Choice Association members attending in person or virtually. Prior to the press conference the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures played host to the LA premiere and Filmmaker Celebration. I recently wrote about the experience on my recently launched Substack.

What follows below is both video from the press conference and a clip of the sequence in the film. Focus Features is platforming Belfast in theaters starting today.

Can you talk about the process in filming the “Everlasting Love” sequence on set?

Kenneth Branagh: Well, I can just briefly say that Aletta [Collins], our choreographer, was involved but I essentially handed it over to the brilliant, beautiful Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan. So tell us, how was it? I know you rehearsed a lot.

Caitríona Balfe: Well, we had to go.

Jamie Dornan: Well, go—

Caitríona Balfe: I would venture to say neither Jamie or I are natural dancers. Maybe Jamie more than me. No, it was—I mean, beautiful choreography by Aletta. We were shooting a lot of the time in a heatwave so there was many sweaty, sweaty sessions of dance rehearsals where we were learning this choreography in 35 Celsius. But I think it comes at such an important part in the story and for Ma and Pa, for these two characters, it’s really where the stress is on their marriage and sort of come to a height. I think it really needed this moment for them to remember the foundation of love that they have for each other and I think that’s what’s the most powerful thing in that scene is. You see that despite all the things that are happening around them, these are two people who love each other so purely. And then, of course, the wonderful singing by Jamie Dornan.

Jamie Dornan: Well, listen, I tell you, what was a godsend that day was the vocal I recorded for it we did after. We did it after production so I wasn’t having to sing live. It wasn’t like Les Miserables or whatever, where they’re all singing live. I don’t think I would have survived the day if I had to do that. It was hard enough trying to lip sync in time on the day and deal with the dance moves and all the emotion that was wrapped up in that moment. I agree with Katrina in terms of the release of it, I feel it comes at a time in that movie where you’ve been through so many difficult moments. Suddenly, there’s this joyous release and it’s vitally important and to see it through his eyes. That day was filled with terror, really fear. But I was just getting so much back from this one and from everyone that was—obviously, Ciarán was like the only one who wasn’t with us that day.

Ciarán Hinds: I couldn’t be bothered turning up.

Jamie Dornan: He wouldn’t even lie in the coffin. It was really strange (Ciarán makes arm movements). But it did—it felt like bar Ciarán, the whole gang were there and it was very special. It’ll be a day—I’ll never forget that day.

Kenneth Branagh: You remember when we were talking about what was underneath it as well? I remember what came to mind was a volume of poetry by D. H. Lawrence. It was a series of short poems that were written after he eloped with Frieda Weekly. She had children; she left her children. It couldn’t have been more difficult. There’s very simple but beautiful—at least to my mind—volume that they wrote. I remember talking to you about this, about what should this look be when she looks back to Pa and the title of the volume was Look! We Have Come Through. And for me, that was what—yes, it was a pop song that they danced to but it was about you know what? I think we got through this next bit. Look, we have come through.

What was great about these two was you could have them in a sweaty chapel for four weeks rehearsing but also talk about notes like that. They could do both—they do all the jiggling and juggling—but I really think there’s a couple of looks in there between the pair of them that goes so deep in terms of understanding that it matches what—it isn’t just as a word, the power of cheap music, as some people would put it. It’s just a connection to the depth of the relationship and it was lovely to have actors who were responsive to both things.

Belfast is now playing in theaters.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.