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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jude Law and Shakespeare


Should Jude Law do some new Shakespeare?


Sorry, that's a trick question -- he's doing Henry V this year at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

He is re-uniting with acclaimed director Michael Grandage who directed him in Hamlet in 2009 -- a production that played in London, on Broadway and even at Kronberg Castle, immortalized in Shakespeare's play as Elsinore.

Jude Law as Hamlet, 2009

It is exciting that Jude Law is doing Shakespeare again, and after many years on stage and screen, he is obviously developing a taste for Shakespeare. 

I found some brief clips of him when he was doing Hamlet, and I added them to the Shakespeare Solved YouTube channel. They are well worth watching, especially since there has unfortunately not been a DVD of this production.

I also found two video clips of his interview with Charlie Rose during the production in New York, and while they are a little bit longer, they are very interesting.


I especially liked the fact that Jude did some homework on Hamlet. He didn't just watch other previous versions of the play on DVD. He wanted to understand the original historical context in which Shakespeare wrote the play.

He read James Shapiro's excellent 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, which you should read if you have not already, it's so good.

Professor Shapiro writes about this critical year, the politics, the cultural changes, and how Shakespeare wrote several of his greatest works, like Henry V and Hamlet.

I respectfully disagree with Professor Shapiro about Hamlet.  I have found more persuasive evidence that it was written in 1601.

Jude also read Arthur McGee's The Elizabethan Hamlet, which discusses how the Elizabethans would have viewed the play. I found the book interesting, but I prefer Stephen Greenblatt's Hamlet in Purgatory.

He also read Michel de Montaigne's Essays which had an influence on Hamlet, especially on the soliloquies.

I do not know how often actors do so much homework in preparation for their performing Hamlet, but I would think that this was quite a great effort on Jude's part to find meaning in the play.

I should think that this has something to do with his wanting to do Henry V now, and I hope it is an indication that Jude will hopefully perform Shakespeare on stage for the rest of his life.

It could only enrich his already fascinating career.

I have watched just about every film of his, and I have many favorites. But I can't help but say that My Blueberry Nights is the one that sticks with me the most recently. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for Wong Kar Wai.

Jude Law in My Blueberry Nights

But I think it mostly has to do with Jude Law's unpretentious and vulnerable performance. He is quite good, and I highly recommend you watch it as soon as possible, if you haven't seen it yet.

So, what about Jude Law in some Solved Shakespeare?

I think he would be excellent!


I can easily imagine him as an Elizabethan, and I think he would be excellent as one of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's playing company.

I can imagine him as Henry Condell, one of the principal actors, and one of Shakespeare's greatest friends. I can also imagine him as Richard Burbage, who originated so many roles, and was arguably Shakespeare's closest friend.

But I can also imagine Jude as one of the courtiers to Elizabeth, like the Earl of Essex, who was so important in Shakespeare's life and was the real life inspiration for Henry V and Hamlet.

He would make a great Essex!

What do you think?

Cheers,



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