Kenneth Branagh felt inspired to play Laurence Olivier in new film My Week With Marilyn thanks to a letter the acting legend sent him when he was a 20-year-old wannabe.
Branagh, who has received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of the great Brit in the movie, wrote to Olivier for help when he was struggling to play an old man in a play - and his hero replied.
Branagh recalls, "I was playing a character who was 60 years old and I didn't know how to do it and my single attempt to do so was to pour a lot of flour into my hair and walk a little bent, but every time I moved around, it was like I was in a snowstorm because the flour kept coming out.
"In those days, in a book called Who's Who in the Theater, actors enclosed their address... so I was able to write to his home address.
"He did respond. I'd said, 'Please, is there anything... a piece of music, a painting, a book, anything that inspired you?' And he said, 'Yes, and I'm not going to tell you any of it. My advice is to just have a bash and hope for the best.'"
The tip wasn't exactly what Branagh wanted at the time, but it became invaluable when he started preparing to play Olivier onscreen.
He explains, "I wrote that down and put it up on my dressing room mirror and every day when I tried the business of becoming him with a prosthetic chin piece and hair color and everything, I'd finally look in the mirror and I'd see this little handwritten note, saying: 'Remember, have a bash and hope for the best'."