Characters?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet : One Thread
Hi Thanks for your help!
What kind of actors are cast in this film?
Part of a sucessful film depends on the director's casting choices. Are American accents distracting in this film?
Is an actor's race important?
Do you think the actors were well cast? What changes would you make
-- Chekeeta Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 12, 2003
What kind? Um ... the human kind?
American accents. Well that's up to you, but I don't find them so, nor the French one either. But then, I'm from Sydney and have seen some great Shakespeare done with Australian accents (sort of, 'Mates, roos and koalas, lend me your ears').
Actor's races. You mean for this play? None of the characters are said in the play to be of any particular race, so no. Of course, nationally speaking they're mostly supposed to be Danes and Norwegians, but that'd take a lot of fun out of a lot of actors' careers the world over.
Were the actors well cast? There seems to be a fairly widely held opinion that the role of Marcellus should have been cut before it was given to Jack Lemmon. I guess you could make changes if you wanted, but the film would be different: character interpretations would be different, relationships between characters would be different, direction, pace, action and reaction. It would all be different. Anyone wants to do that, he should just create a different film. Take the lord in Act V who comes to Hamlet and Horatio after Osric. Wasn't necessarily how I would cast the lord or direct the scene, but in Branagh's film it works great. That's a great beauty of this play, and of any good piece of theatrical writing. I don't think you should change the words, or the sense of the words; and you don't want just plain bad actors, nor ones that don't know what they're saying, but I don't think Branagh had any of those. But you take on something like Hamlet, or HAMLET, you can make it a bit your own, as well as the author's.
-- catherine england (email@example.com), March 13, 2003.
What kind of actors? Not sure what that means - the kind who like to act and then get paid for it, maybe?
American accents? There were American accents? Oh, Jack. Yeah, he WAS distracting. That's ok, he wasn't around much (thank goodness). What Ken saw in him, I don't know, but if it please the director....
Race? Nah. Who gives a rat about race?
Well cast? Well, I'll tell thee what - that was the damn finest Horatio ever played. R and G, you knew who they were and could tell them apart! Claudius? Splendid! Marcellus? Um, well, nothing's perfect....
Perhaps a more direct question is, "If you could recast Marcellus, which actor would you choose?"
-- Casey (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 2003.
IMHO, Catherine is right that the casting of Jack Lemmon was a disaster -- not for his American accent, but for the horribly stilted way he spoke the meter. (It's a shame because Lemmon can do great with other roles, such as in "Glenn Gary Glenn Ross.") I also have some (significantly smaller) reservations about the casting of Billy Crystal as the gravedigger in "Hamlet"; the American accent in Shakespeare does not bother me for the more formal, poetic lines (written in iambic pentameter, etc.), but I do get distracted when an American has to speak the Shakespearean working-man slang lines and doesn't havethe accent down. Otherwise I thought the casting for the film was just fantastic. Hard to think of a film with a better group of actors in it.
-- Chris Butler (email@example.com), April 28, 2003.
I agree with the observation that Jack Lemmon was terrible in this film. I think it very well may be the worst performance of his career save his acting in Out to Sea. Accents most certainly can be distracting. I would advise that it can be better for Americans to use their own accents instead of using unmastered English accents. I think that an actor can make a character work even if she or he is not of the expected race. I had no problem with Denzel Washington in Much Ado about Nothing for instance. To comment on Billy Crystal playing the grave digger, I think he did fine, but I think my favourite take on the gravedigger is Rick Moranis' spoof of the part in L.A. Story -- quite amusing. I like Kate Winslet in Branagh's Hamlet; she is far superior to Helena Bonham-Carter.
-- Catherine C. England (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 24, 2003.