Sunday, July 01, 2012

Shakespeare and me in The Observer

Today's Observer has a special section, Shakespeare and Me in which various actors and directors talk about the plays have effected them. There's plenty of Hamlet interest.

Simon Russell Beale: "I think it was the actor Paul Rhys who said to me: "Hamlet will change you", and I didn't believe him. He was right, though – it's the only part you can't hide behind – and you spend most of the time contemplating your death, which is quite hard to do when you're 40, not yet ancient."

Judi Dench: "I made my professional debut as Ophelia in 1957. I didn't know enough to be daunted by it at the time. I learnt an incredible amount from it. My notices were certainly daunting. You learn from them – you learn very soon. You just have to grit your teeth and get on and learn to do it better."

Alan Cumming: "It probably wasn't a great idea to play Hamlet opposite my ex-wife [Hilary Lyon] as Ophelia. We were coming towards the end of our marriage and I pretty much had a full-on breakdown after it. The play also dredged up some awful things with my father, and I realised there were a lot of unresolved issues in my life that I needed to deal with."

Michelle Dockery: "Anyone who's ever played Ophelia should all get together for a big group hug. I played Ophelia with John Simm at Sheffield and I began to suffer terrible insomnia in the same way that Hamlet does. It's such a tough part and Ophelia is a huge leap, especially in the end, when she descends into her madness."

But the whole thing's a pleasure and all available here.

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