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Kenneth Branagh terrified before big Olympics moment

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Jan 22, 2014 | 2:30pm EST

Newly-knighted Kenneth Branagh suffered sleepless nights after signing up to recite Shakespeare at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics - because he didn't get a script until the last minute. The actor/director was one of the stars of the big event, masterminded by Danny Boyle, but he admits he was overcome with terror as his moment loomed. He explains, "With three weeks to go, Danny Boyle gave me a call. I was honoured but then found out there was no autocue and it would be live in front of 1.25 billion people! Man, I went away and learned those lines. I'd wake up in the night saying them. Even the dog knew the lines!" But when it came to recite the lines from The Tempest, Branagh admits he was filled with patriotic pride. He tells U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "The thing that got me through was the feeling of camaraderie. You really felt like you were holding hands with everyone in the country. It was fantastic and one of the most incredible experiences." And he confesses he had a sneaky back-up plan - just in case he forgot the words: "I'd written the lines on the inside of the book I was carrying!"

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