The Story Behind Kenneth Branagh's Custom Shoes in 'My Week with Marilyn' (Exclusive Photos)
UPDATED: The Golden Globe-nominated actor wears the same George Cleverley footwear sported by the man he plays in the Weinstein Co. film, Laurence Olivier.
When it comes to historical accuracy, the shoes worn by Kenneth Branagh to play Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn couldn't get any more spot on. In the film, which focuses on the making of the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl starring Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, Branagh wears the same brand of shoes -- English bespoke maker George Cleverley -- originally loved by the legendary actor. And they are Branagh's own pair of shoes which coincidentally he'd had made years earlier and never worn, waiting until the right moment.
As he recently told Collider.com, his pal, actor Terence Stamp had said to him that before he turned 50 he should do something special and have a pair of shoes handmade for himself. Stamp recommended Cleverley, which has done shoes for the likes of Tom Hanks, Prince Charles, ICM’s Jeff Berg and Fox’s Bert Salke.
The process took about a year, measurements, then three months later looking at leathers, then three months later, discussing colors, with the pair of brown Oxford brogues arriving three months after that. "They felt like a pair of slippers. I said, 'Well, I've got the shoes, Terrence. It's cost me a small fortune. Now, I'm so terrified to use them, I don't know what to do with them.' He said, ‘Something will come up,' " Branagh told Collider.
Enter My Week with Marilyn. While Branagh was preparing for the role, the film's director, Simon Curtis, told the actor that Olivier had also worn shoes by the maker. "Olivier famously said that he liked to prepare from the outside in and that a key thing for him was shoes," said Branagh. Acting kismet. The shoes even won a close-up in the film (pictured below.)
Says the shoemaker’s CEO George Glasgow, Jr.: "We measured him at the Cleverley shop in London and I did the fitting with Kenneth in Beverly Hills personally. He was great to work with. A real gentleman."
Cleverley's London shop is located in the 19th-century Royal Arcade off Old Bond Street in the West End. It's West Coast outpost is located inside the Beverly Hills shoe retailer Leather Soul (479 Rodeo Drive). Cleverley’s Bespoke Gallery is located on the second floor of Leather Soul, while its ready-to-wear and semi-bespoke shoes ($850–$1,600) are sold on the ground floor. Every shoe is hand-made in England. Cleverley's original London workshop still houses a collection of lasts — a wooden form in a shape of a foot, used to make the shoes — used to make shoes for such Cleverley customers as David Beckham, the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, author Tom Wolfe and even Olivier. Pictured below are the lasts created from Branagh's measurements.
“The shoes that we made for Kenneth run at approximately $3,500. He was very pleased and we are making him more shoes now,” says Glasgow, who says the company is also currently making shoes for Mickey Rourke.