Just because Joel Coen‘s Macbeth had to shut down production temporarily doesn’t mean it isn’t still one of our most highly-anticipated films of…whenever it comes out now. Any updates on the filmmaker’s adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy—which is set to star Denzel Washington in the title role alongside Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth—is a good update.
Which is exactly what we got from both Coen and McDormand during an Instagram fundraiser [via The Film Stage], where the duo dove into the tone of the film, and how aging up the two leads changes the story’s dynamic. Here’s what McDormand said:
“In Joel’s adaptation, we are exploring the age of the characters and our adaptation the Macbeths are older. Both Denzel [Washington] and I are older than what is often cast as the Macbeths. We’re postmenopausal, we’re past childbearing age. So that puts a pressure on their ambition to have the crown. I think the most important distinction is that it is their last chance for glory…It puts a very specific time pressure on the characters, but also on the storytelling, which I think is the real brilliance of the adaptation that Joel has done. There’s a real suspense and a real ticking clock. The time is running out–not only for the characters, but also it propels the storytelling.”
Coen also noted that the Shakespeare play isn’t as outside his usual wheelhouse as you’d think. The story, which centers around a king and queen who ascended to the throne through murder and become consumed by paranoia as a result, is essentially a classic thriller, Coen says.
“Yes, [it can be considered a thriller]. I think that is something that I’ve always sort of felt when watching the play and also something that became more clear and more interesting to me as I was getting into it and doing the adaptation. It’s interesting how Shakespeare sort of pre-figured certain tropes in American thriller and crime literature that were common in the early part of the 20th century. Which just had to do with, in crime novels, a story centered around a husband and a wife who plotted a murder. So that’s something that Shakespeare is obviously doing in Macbeth that you see echoes of in crime fiction, in American anyway, in the early part of the 20th century. That kind of fiction I used to read as a kid. I thought it would be interesting to bring certain aspects of that to the production of the movie.”
Macbeth also stars Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling, and Ralph Ineson.