Denzel Washington appears as Shakespeare’s consummate disciple. He played Othello in college, first came to prominence in an off-Broadway performance of Coriolanus, played as Richard III at the Public Theater in 1990, co-starred in Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation in 1993 A lot of noise for nothing and titled Julius Caesar on Broadway in 2005.
He’s now set to land a ninth Oscar nomination for taking on one of the bard’s most tragic figures, the lead role in Joel Coen. Macbeth’s tragedy.
The 67-year-old actor, however, made a startling admission in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment.
“I’ve never seen anyone else’s Macbeth,” said Washington (watch above), who lands praise for his singular, let’s call it Denzellian twist on the general convinced he’s destined to take the Scottish throne. “I had never seen him before. I had never seen the play. …there was a movie [he likely means 2015’s Macbeth with Michael Fassbender]. I saw that a bit. So I had no preconceived idea of what it should be, what I actually prefer.
“I wouldn’t want to see other interpretations because then you start thinking about what you wouldn’t do,” he continues. “You start with a negative. … It ruins your whole game.”
Macbeth’s tragedy also stars Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Harry Melling, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Kathryn Hunter, Moses Ingram and Sean Patrick Thomas—a multicultural ensemble that Hawkins (Straight outta Compton, up high) underlines is the most diverse he has seen in a Shakespeare performance.
“Growing up and I certainly haven’t seen anyone who looked like me do [Shakespeare],” he said. “And I love that we now have the opportunity to put something on screen, because I’m trying to think of another time when something on this scale, in terms of Shakespeare, was made on a film that looks like this, this has the diversity that it does. It’s kind of setting an example without having to preach it. It’s like, it’s just what we do. We are going to work. I like this.”
Macbeth’s tragedy now playing in select theaters and streaming worldwide on Apple TV+.
– Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Steve Michel
Watch the trailer: