Hirsch to join long line of movie Hamlets

Posted by · 5:28 pm · June 3rd, 2009

Emile HirschWith three major film adaptations in the latest two decades alone, I wouldn’t have thought “Hamlet” was crying out for another big-screen treatment, but apparently I was wrong. (What’s wrong with Shakespeare’s other plays? Not too shabby, some of ’em.)

Anyway, news came yesterday that Catherine Hardwicke is to helm the latest outing for the Prince of Denmark, in a film being developed by the rapidly rising Overture Films. No word yet on whether the “Twilight” director’s involvement signals a tween-generation take on the Bard, though Overture has confirmed that the film will refashion as a “suspense thriller” set in contemporary America. (I guess because that 2000 thriller-ized American update with Ethan Hawke never happened? Help me out here.)

Emile Hirsch will be the latest thesp to step into the role, with Oscar-winning producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (“Milk,” “American Beauty”) boasting that he’ll be the first age-appropriate actor to play the role on film. Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner (“Philadelphia,” “The Painted Veil”) is handling script duties.

I can’t say the triple-H combo of Hardwicke, Hirsch and Hamlet has me salivating, but I’ll do my best to keep an open mind. Still, forgive me if I think this joins the mooted “Total Recall” remake as the week’s least necessary announcement. Press release extract after the jump.

“With its universal themes of death, revenge, love and even teen angst – the story of Hamlet is perhaps as timely and influential today as it was when it was written over 400 years ago,” said Overture Films CEO Chris McGurk and COO Danny Rosett. “Tremendous talent is on board in the form of Emile, Catherine and Ron and we are confident – particularly with Bruce and Dan guiding the project – that this has all the right ingredients to be something special.”

“This project was the brainchild of Emile Hirsch, who we had the pleasure of working with on ‘Milk’. Hamlet was in college when the story takes place, yet there hasn’t been a movie version with an appropriately-aged actor playing the role. Our goal is to present the story as a suspense thriller. We want to make it exciting and accessible for an audience today,” Jinks and Cohen said in a joint statement.

Hardwicke added, “I had a great time working with Emile on ‘Lords of Dogtown’, so when he suggested ‘Hamlet’, I was intrigued. We read the play aloud and when I heard Emile speaking Shakespeare’s amazing words, I was flooded with images. We edited the play tightly, making the words extremely accessible. In our version, we’re working hard to make ‘Hamlet’ a thrilling cinematic experience — the violent, intense, and romantic scenes that happen ‘off-stage’ in the play will be shown in vivid detail.”

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11 responses so far

  • 1 6-03-2009 at 5:41 pm

    Mr. F said...

    I would be excited if it wasn’t for Hardwicke’s involvement. The only movie of hers I’ve come close to liking is “Thirteen,” and that’s only for Evan Rachel Wood’s and Holly Hunter’s performances.

  • 2 6-03-2009 at 6:51 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Like Mr. Ford said. I would be also excited except for Hardwick. But again, Emile Hirsch is becoming one of the most interesting american young actors and Hollywood promises right now and Ron Nyswaner returns well in the underrated “The Painted Veil”. I hope the work of both men will shine…

  • 3 6-03-2009 at 7:04 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...


  • 4 6-03-2009 at 8:38 pm

    McGuff said...

    I’m always on board for Hirsch. Into the Wild was my #3 a couple years ago, and I’ve always loved Girl Next Door as a fun lil comedy. I wonder if Hardwicke has the guts to go all Baz “R+J” with this.

  • 5 6-04-2009 at 12:44 am

    Eunice said...

    You have a point, Guy. I’d want to see more movie adaptations of ‘Macbeth’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, and ‘As You Like It’, for example. But I don’t mind seeing another ‘Hamlet’, as long as it’s done well and with enough respect to the source material.

    Hirsch and Nyswaner have me excited for this. Emile Hirsch is gifted and is certainly one of those actors we have to watch, and I enjoyed the two Nyswaner movies mentioned above, especially because they were well-written.

    I also don’t know how material affects Hardwicke’s directing, if it does at all. “Twilight” is certainly no literary gem, and look at how that ended up. I hope this falls into better hands.

    Oh, and if they’re looking, all I have to say is this: Liev Schreiber for Laertes. I don’t care if he played it in the 2000 update with Ethan Hawke (which did happen, Guy, don’t worry), but you cannot find a better actor for the role.

    If we’re talking about movie adaptations of The Bard’s plays, what’s your opinion regarding Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet”, Guy?

  • 6 6-04-2009 at 1:28 am

    Chris said...

    “the violent, intense, and romantic scenes that happen ‘off-stage’ in the play will be shown in vivid detail.”


  • 7 6-04-2009 at 1:41 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chris: I think that’s code for as much PG-13 sex as Hardwicke can squeeze in. Um, yay.

    Eunice: Love Luhrmann, love “Romeo + Juliet.” I was 13 when it came out so I was squarely in the target market. I remember being sceptical before seeing it, but I was completely won over by the balls-out excess of it all.

  • 8 6-04-2009 at 6:14 am

    Glenn said...

    Eunice, try and find Jeffrey Wright’s (“Romper Stomper”) adaption of “Macbeth”. it is absolutely fucked up to its very core, which is why I got such a hoot out of it when others were calling it one of the worst movies ever made.

    And, hey, it stars Sam Worthington for a bit of current relevance (it’s a few years old by now).

  • 9 6-04-2009 at 7:59 am

    Eunice said...

    Guy: I’m going to have to see it one more time to get what you mean. Hey, maybe you guys could do a poll or an edition of The Lists based on this particular topic. Best Shakespeare adaptations, or something to that effect.

    Glenn: Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll check it out.

  • 10 6-04-2009 at 8:25 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Very good idea, Eunice. We’ll bear it in mind for when “The Tempest” rolls around.

  • 11 6-04-2009 at 2:58 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Best Shakespeare adaptation: “RAN.” Hands down.