Six Shakespearean Actors With The Bitchingest Other Roles
Ateneo de Manila University
2 BS MGT
Six Shakespearean Actors With The
Bitchingest Other Roles
So, okay, let’s say you’re at a party. It’s pretty chill. You’re dressed up, you have a cold beer in one hand and you’re sitting on a comfy chair having a conversation with a reasonably attractive girl (or a boy if you’re a girl) and the topic of Shakespeare comes up, as it inevitably must. Fortunately, thanks to your sem spent in Dr. Judy Ick’s Transmedial Shakespeare class, you’re well-prepared. Things are going well; you’re discussing Shakespeare and movies when the conversation suddenly shuts down. GASP. You realize that you’ve run out of things to talk about. Wanting to keep things going though, and wanting to remain in the context of Shakespeare and movies because you know a lot about it, you say, “Hey did you know that Patrick Stewart played Claudius in the 1980 BBC Production depiction of Hamlet?”
Wrong move! Everyone knows that Patrick Stewart is an actor closely associated with Shakespeare, and an active member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The same goes for Leo DiCaprio as Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Kenneth Branagh as Henry V in, well, Henry V. In other words, they’re old news. To impress that girl (or boy if you’re a girl), you’ll have to look elsewhere. Fortunately for you, I have compiled here a list of six actors connected to Shakespeare with hella bitching roles in other movies.
6. Alfred Molina
He played Stephano in the 2010 remake of The Tempest. No news yet on when it’s coming out here in the Philippines, if at all, so I really can’t give my opinion on that. But he’s a pretty good actor, so I think it’s safe to say he did okay.
Alfred Molina is probably best known by most members of this generation (like me admittedly) as Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2. What, I ask you, qualifies as “bitching” if not having six mechanical arms attached to your back? Also, he totally let Spider-man go that one time.
I’m not sure, but I get the feeling that Caliban would have been a lot nicer to him if he’d kept his mechanical arms.
5. William Shatner
William Shatner was apparently trained as a Shakespearean actor. He was an active performer at the Stratford Festival of Canada when he was young and was a member of the cast of Henry V. One can only wonder if this Shakespearean training was what led to his (in)famous way of delivering lines, now called “Shatnerian”. Nowhere has this manner of speaking been more highlighted than in Shatner’s cover of The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. While it isn’t directly related to William Shakespeare, I guarantee you, it is something you WANT TO WATCH.
Again with the generation gap. People my age probably only know him as the funny, fat, semi-senile guy from Boston Legal, and that’s actually not so bad, because he’s hilarious in that role. For another whole generation though, he was the one and only Captain Kirk, taking Spock and the rest of the USS Enterprise “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”.
I think the Youtube video speaks for itself.
4. Sir Ian McKellan
… Pretty much everyone. In his prolific career as a Shakespearean actor and as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Ian McKellan has played a truckload of characters ranging from Romeo, to Iago, to Macbeth, to King Lear and so on. In fact, I don’t even know what he’s doing on this list.
Magneto! The undeniably bad ass Master of Magnetism from X-Men. Within the mythology of the film and comic series, Magneto is one of the most powerful mutants on Earth. Consider this: he can lift a freight train and throw it at your face. With his mind.
I think ANYTHING plus the powers of magnetism would have been pretty awesome.
3. Robbie Coltrane
Robbie Coltrane actually played the role of Falstaff in the version of Henry V mentioned above, acting alongside Kenneth Branagh. Falstaff has a bigger role in this film version than in the original theatrical version, which worked out quite well, giving his character a little more depth.
Rubeus Hagrid from the Harry Potter series. From Hagrid’s first moment on screen (see below), where he tells Harry that (spoiler!) he’s a wizard, to his last moment on screen, coming to a theater near you on July 15, there’s been no doubt that this character will live on in the hearts of children for a long, long time. But enough about that. Hagrid is a half-giant, stands head and shoulders above most other men and can tear you up into little bits and cook you in his cauldron, and then turn you into rock cakes and serve you to Harry, Ron and Hermione for tea–not that he would. Also, he has a pet dragon.
Given the personalities of Hagrid and Falstaff, both described as big, happy guys, I don’t think combining them would be a problem. Let’s put it this way– If the Hogwarts Drama Club (which I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about) decided to put on a production of Henry V, everyone would know who would be playing Falstaff.
2. Andrew Garfield
At the tender age of twentysomething, Andrew Garfield was already a member of the Royal Exchange theater, where he played Romeo in a 2005 production.
He’s freaking Spider-man!
Make that the NEW Spider-man. Garfield plays the titular role in the Columbia Pictures reboot of the franchise. In the movie, he’ll be playing Peter Parker back in high school, first learning how to develop his spider-powers. He also has a snazzy new costume.
Angsty teenager plus spider-powers? Nope, never heard of that before.
1. Russell Brand
He played Trinculo alongside #6’s Alfred Molina in the 2010 version of The Tempest. Reportedly, he didn’t do to well though, but that’s okay, because…
He’s Mr. Katy Perry. ‘Nuff said.
Now the question is, so what? So what if all of these actors are associated with Shakespeare? Personally, I believe it has something to do with what we discussed in class: how being associated with Shakespeare gives off a certain perception of being upper class and stuff. Look at the examples– Alfred Molina and Sir Ian McKellan (not to mention Kenneth Branagh and Patrick Stewart) are some of the oldest and most respected actors today, and they both have Shakespearean backgrounds. The same go
es for many other old actors with less bitching roles that I could have included in this list, like Glenn Close (Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians), Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins from the LOTR series),
Michael Gambon (Dumbledore from Harry Potter) and so on. But are they perceived as superior actors because of their Shakespearean background (i.e. bragging rights), or because they really are that good? I personally believe it’s the latter, because all of these actors and actresses really are actually good, but this doesn’t mean that Shakespearean roles don’t give some legitimacy to an actor.
Just take the last actor on the list as an example: Russell Brand. Previously just a stand-up comic, he broke into the big time with his role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and followed it up with Get Him to the Greek and Despicable Me. It’s evident that he’s started making a name for himself as an actor. So in line with that, it isn’t too hard to believe that he tried out for the part of Trinculo to add a Shakespeare to his resume. But of course, this is all speculation. We may never know.
I don’t own any of the pictures or videos included in this essay.