The Tragedy of Macbeth | Denzel Washington incarne Macbeth

(Los Angeles) Since its birth four centuries ago under the pen of Shakespeare, Macbeth has never been embodied by someone of the caliber of Denzel Washington.

The Oscar-winning actor, considered one of the greatest of his time, received for his role in The Tragedy of Macbeth, which premieres Friday on Apple TV+, nominations for most upcoming film awards.

He is 67 years old and the Lady Macbeth who gives him the counterpart is Frances McDormand, 64, which may seem a bit old to produce an heir to their kingdom. “They are tired, they are older,” Denzel Washington told AFP, explaining that the time that escapes plays a major role in this version, pushing them towards evil and madness.

“They are like this: ‘Our time has come. It is our due. Give it to us! “, he continues. “In an extreme situation, extreme measures. And the clock is ticking”.

The actor, who faces sword in hand enemies twice during the film, would he have interpreted this character differently twenty or thirty years ago?

“I probably would have been more physical. Without being limited by the state in which my knees are at this moment of my life! He smiles.

And of course Denzel Washington is black, as is 33-year-old Corey Hawkins, who plays his nemesis Macduff. Although totally anachronistic for a story supposed to take place in the XIe century in Scotland, this detail is anything but new for an adaptation of Macbeth. Orson Welles, for example, staged a version of the play in 1936 in which all the protagonists were black.

“Obviously we’re diverse and I think that’s a great thing,” Denzel Washington said during a press roundtable. “In my humble opinion, we shouldn’t even be at the point where we have to mention diversity as something special,” he notes.

“These young people — black, white, blue, green, whatever — are highly talented and skilled, that’s what they’re here for,” insists the actor.

“I can’t change this skin. I can’t change this hair. I can’t change that. But what I can do is be excellent where people didn’t expect me,” adds Corey Hawkins. “We didn’t think in terms of blacks and whites,” he says.

“A Fresh Eye”

Director Joel Coen chose to shoot his film in black and white, with an almost square aspect ratio that was used towards the end of silent cinema and minimal sound effects that give it the flavor of early Hollywood.

Many times, Macbeth has been adapted for the big screen, including by legendary directors like Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa (The Spider’s Castle) or Roman Polanski.

Denzel Washington swears he’s never seen any of these versions and even deliberately shunned them, to avoid having to think “damn, how the hell am I going to be better than this?” »

“I didn’t want it to affect what I was going to get out of it, so I came in with a fresh eye and my imagination,” explains the actor, whose Macbeth begins gently and subtly before descending into rage. ambition then madness.

Denzel Washington is not his first Shakespeare, however: he played “Julius Caesar” on Broadway and appeared in the film A lot of noise for nothing de Kenneth Branagh.

Corey Hawkins hopes that children from minorities will in turn want to rub shoulders with Shakespeare after seeing his eldest and the other black actors in the film. “It might pique their curiosity,” he says.

Because “yes, black people love Shakespeare. We probably love Shakespeare without even knowing it because there are plenty of references to Shakespeare in the songs and the culture we love.

“It belongs to us as much as to the others”, launches Corey Hawkins.

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