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Hopkins to play Lear

AnthonyHopkins.jpgYes Anthony Hopkins is returning to the big screen to play King Lear in a film version of the Shakespearean tragedy appearing with a pretty big cast.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts and Keira Knightley are reportedly going to be starring as Lear's daughters, and there are more big names to be announced. However the worrying thing about the production is the director, not Kenneth Branagh as you might expect, but a comedy director.

When I read the name Joshua Michael Stern as the director I didn't really know who they meant, until I checked IMDB. Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, and more in Swing Vote, and Neverwas starring Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, William Hurt, Alan Cumming and Vera Farmiga. Certainly a couple of films with big names, but the rest of his career seems to be comedy and lower budget films. Could this guy really be bringing us King Lear?

According to The Guardian he is.

"The one thing that I'm staying away from is stunt casting...so there won't be the American comedian, but there will be some really great actors playing smaller roles that will make a lot of sense."

You know I think he may actually be having a pop at Branagh there. However he goes on to offer some positive comments.

"I'm not very fond of the modern adaptations...It's pre-Roman, Celtic, very raw. It's a period in British history, from which Tolkien took a lot of his inspiration, where there were thatched-roof roundhouses and fortresses."

The other good thing is that filming is expected to be in Britain and/or Ireland, so at least they're not off to some east European country or New Zealand to film it, and he is promising to keep it true to the original story.

I'm not so sure that this will be that great. I think a lot of the excitement about Shakespeare in film these days are the updated adaptations, whether it be to this time period or somewhere between as we see Branagh make. A straight King Lear from Stern? Will it work?

It's certainly off to a good start casting Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts and Keira Knightley, Hopkins played King Lear on stage in 1987, and those leading ladies might do well in a Shakespearean play behind him - it'll certainly do Knightley and Paltrow (the only non-Brit among them) some good, and just reaffirm how good an actress Watts is.



IMHO, we do not need an updated cinematic Lear, as Scofield's (1971) and Holm (1998) remain the best, this is of course not meant to offend Sir Anthony Hopkins. I am guessing Cordelia (a thankless role) will be played by Knightley so it will not do her acting any good. Then Paltrow and Watts either as Goneril or Regan.

I am more interested to find out whose playing Edgar and Edmund. If you missed McKellen's Lear from RSC's last season, another stage version is still playing at the Shakespeare's Globe and I heard it's worth a visit.

I actually think a Branagh-esque (note I don't mean it has to be Branagh, but something inventive and respectful of the original text) would be superb to see on screen, anything else I don't think will be so good.

King Lear isn't exactly the strongest of Shakespearean stories and I can't see it being adapted to....oh hold on a minute. King Lear - a ruler exiled and hunted - who could that be in recent history?


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