Direct an act from Hamlet
I have selected Act 1 of Hamlet for my project. I do not wish to change any details in the original script itself but I would be approaching the script as a screenplay for a movie as I think that popular culture would benefit greatly from this Shakespearean classic. This means that my target audience would mainly be today’s youth.
My approach would be somewhat similar to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet in 1996 which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
The main difference is that I would like preserve another facet of Shakespeare’s old plays as they were performed during his time, and that is to have all the parts played by men. I believe that this would add novelty to the movie as this has yet to be done by any version of any Shakespearean play created for the cinema. Also, I think it would add a measure of academic value to the film, which is it would get a lot of attention from people who would inevitably want to relate the novelty to some social issue like gender which would definitely increase media mileage.
Act 1 of Hamlet has five main characters. These are King Hamlet (The Ghost): the late king of Denmark who had died two months ago, King Claudius: the late King Hamlet’s brother and successor, Queen Gertrude: widow of King Hamlet and remarried to Claudius following her husband’s demise, Prince Hamlet: a young college student who is the son of Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and Horatio: Hamlet’s best friend. For the starring role of Prince Hamlet, I will choose Matt Damon. Although he’s 36 years old, Matt can easily be made to look like he’s in his late 20s.
He is best known for his starring role as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac assassin on the run in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. I think that Damon’s dark persona that is incorporated in these two movies would play quite well for the part of Hamlet especially in his broodings regarding his father’s death. Matt’s stern disposition is also appropriate in his unflinching dialogue with the ghost of his father towards the end of the act. I want Hamlet to be strong, a bit dark and brooding, almost unkind. For the ghost of King Hamlet, I’ve selected Anthony Hopkins.
Hopkins has starred in the Hannibal Lecter series of movies from Silence of the Lambs in 1991 to Hannibal in 2001. His role was that of a deranged but brilliant surgeon who is a known and convicted murderer and cannibal. Hopkins also starred in the now classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992. Hopkins’ roles in these movies showed his capability for a cunning, merciless character that is what is needed for the part of the ghost of King Hamlet. I want the ghost to show utterly no remorse for what it would ask Hamlet to do. I want Hopkins’ imposing stare in digital ghostly fog effects that could scare an audience silly.
I also want a synergy of dark characters between him and Damon. I want the audience to see this dark demeanor as a resemblance from father to son. For Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertude, I want to use an actor who is a lot younger than either Hopkins or the actor who is to play King Claudius. Also, since I will be using a man to play Queen Gertrude, I find it necessary to pick one who has done the task several times before. Unfortunately, there seems to be no available actor in Hollywood to perform such a role. This leads me to seek out someone outside of tinsel town. Doing so found me the perfect specimen in the Philippines.
He is Eric Quizon. He is a Filipino actor in his mid-forties who has played the role of a beautiful gay man several times in their local cinema. He has even played one in an internationally acclaimed movie in 2000 about the Japanese occupation in his country during World War II which was entitled, Markova: Comfort Gay. Quizon has an excellent command of English and does look like a beautiful gay man so there would be no problem fitting him in as Queen Gertrude. He has also been nominated for several acting awards in his country and had even more a number of supporting actor awards in 1995 and 1998 so his acting is also pretty decent.
I want Gertrude to look beautiful. I want the audience who know she isn’t really a woman to gape in awe at how much she looks like one without any major make up or computer alterations. Plus I want people who do not know that she is a man to be struck silly when they find out. For King Claudius, I’ve selected Brian Cox. He’s a 60 year old veteran who’s played supporting roles in a lot of action films such as Desparate Measures, Manhunter, and Troy where he superbly played another villain, Agamemnon.
I also chose Cox because he has previously worked both with Damon and with Hopkins in The Bourne Supremacy and Hannibal respectively. I believe that this would make him serve as a bridge between the two actors in the early stages of filming. I want King Claudius to seem just as ruthless and cunning as his brother, and I think using someone who has played one of the most ruthless kings in classic literature is just the ticket. Finally, I want Jack Black to play Horatio. You just need to King Kong or The Jackal to know that this guy can keep a straight face but at the same time come off as funny looking to the audience.
I mean, I actually laughed a little when Bruce Willis’ psychotic character blew a crying Jack Black to bits in the second mentioned movie. I want that seriousness to leave a smile on the audience. I want them to ask “Is he serious? Or is he going to pull a rabbit out of his ass before he says another word? ”. The setting would be in modern day Denmark, where Hamlet’s father would actually be a big time tycoon. All the modern day details similar to Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet would apply to this film. I want the audience to be able to connect with the movie and at the same time appreciate how it was done in the old days.