Ian McKellen, the last of the great theatrical knights still at the center, revealed that he is fit and ready to take on the role of Hamlet – 50 years after he first played the youthful Dane.
“ I do Pilates three times a week, and I have a trainer twice a week – all long distances – so I’m pretty fit for the thriller that is Hamlet, ” said the 81-year-old during an exclusive interview on the line from East. -London.
McKellen will lead the summer season of Theater Royal Windsor, founded by owner Bill Kenwright and Artistic Director Sean Mathias, in Hamlet starting June 21st.
Ian McKellen, 81, revealed he is fighting fit and ready to take on the role of Hamlet
The actor will direct Theater Royal Windsor’s summer season in Hamlet from June 21. In the photo: McKellen and the cast of Hamlet during their rehearsal
Emmanuella Cole (left) and Francesca Annis (right) will star in production with McKellen this summer
By then, the government’s restrictions on social distance should be lifted, according to its roadmap from lockdown. Production has been postponed from last summer.
McKellen will play the Prince of Denmark for ten weeks – then take on the role of servant Firs in the company’s second production, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Adapted by Martin Sherman, it will run for seven weeks.
Francesca Annis will play Ranevskaya on that show, after first taking on the role of the Ghost in Hamlet.
The company also includes Jenny Seagrove (who will play Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother); Steven Berkoff (Polonius); Alis Wyn Davies (Ophelia) and Emmanuella Cole (Laertes).
“Age, gender, and color-blind casting!” Kenwright and Mathias declare proudly, ticking the boxes.
In the production, Jenny Seagrove (left) plays Hamlet’s mother Gertrude and Steven Berkoff (right) plays Polonius
Alis Wyn Davies (left) and Ben Allen (right) also star in Hamlet, which opens to the public from June 21.
The director urged the public to “ see if you can park your conditioners out front and go with them the whole ride. ”
He noted that McKellen will play the youngest person on the Shakespeare show – and the oldest in Chekhov.
McKellen told me ‘the game is so much younger than me [in Hamlet] is really just a downside of what I have done many times in my life, namely playing much older than me ‘.
When a young person plays an old person, “we don’t know what it’s like – but I DO remember what it’s like to be young!”
The troupe also includes actors Asif Khan (left) and Nick Howard-Brown (right)
Joining the Lord of The Rings star will be Llinos Daniel (left) and Ashley D. Gayle (right)
Missy Malek will join the cast for the production in which McKellen will play the Prince of Denmark for ten weeks
There is also topicality thanks to recent royal rulings. “Princes don’t have it easy, are they?” he said. ‘I wouldn’t push the parallel any further, but he just is [Hamlet’s] have to do with being royal. ‘
McKellen stressed, “I’m not going to try to make myself look young … that’s not the point.” And he joked that he is not the “first inappropriate person” to play Hamlet.
He saw Michael Redgrave play the role when he was 50. And Dame Judith Anderson was 72 when she explored Hamlet at Carnegie Hall in 1971.
To prepare, McKellen has polished his fencing. Luckily, Emmanuella Cole, who plays Laertes, is a prize fencer – and she can give me some tips. I hope’.
But even the more youthful thespians who’ve taken on the role of the Danish prince have said it’s like running a few marathons every night. And the 80-year-old admitted that he could be “absolutely exhausted” by the end of the flight.
He and Mathias have both done stitches when trimming the text; so the Windsor production lasts only two and a half hours, including an intermission. (Mathias said he hoped they wouldn’t be attacked by Shakespearean purists and “ sent to theater prison ” for their filleting.)
Plus, McKellen will be performing his Hamlet six times a week – “not the usual eight.”
Ian McKellen will take on the role of Hamlet 50 years after he first played the youthful Dane
The star (in The Lord Of The Rings, left, and the X-Men movies, right) admitted that his grown-up Hamlet would be ‘a curiosity’
The star, a lion of the theater and an idol for young audiences, admitted, thanks to his work in The Lord Of The Rings and X-Men films, that his grown-up Hamlet would be ‘a curiosity’.
“Some people will be interested,” he said. ‘And some people absolutely not. But I hope they aren’t put off by the fact that I’m a lot older than the usual Hamlet. They will understand the words, and they will be able to understand and identify with them. ‘
And then he smiled and said he saw it as an adventure. Keeps you fit, doesn’t it? And how else do you know you’re alive ?! ‘
Tickets will go on sale for TRW members today from 11am; and in the general sale (£ 25- £ 75) from 11am tomorrow. Contact theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk or call 01753 853888.
Downton’s guest list is growing
Actor Dominic West has joined the roll call of star names lining up for the movie’s sequel Downton Abbey, which will begin filming next month.
Script details are closely monitored, but I have been able to determine that West will play an aristocrat who arrives as the guest of Lord Grantham of Hugh Bonneville and his family.
My attempts to determine whether or not his character can grab a handkerchief with the clan upstairs (or the staff downstairs) came to nothing.
Actor Dominic West (left) and Imelda Staunton (right) star in the sequel to the movie Downton Abbey
But if he does, it certainly won’t concern Imelda Staunton – who also guest stars, following her performance in the 2019 film as Maud Bagshaw, the queen’s lady-in-waiting.
An affair would be tricky. Staunton will play our current monarch Elizabeth II in The Crown’s fifth season – which will also feature West as her son, Prince Charles.
Jim Carter, Staunton’s wife, will also star in the movie Downton 2; Play Carson the butler.
Dominic West in Johnny English Reborn (left) and in the crime drama Appropriate Adult (right)
Script details are closely monitored, but I have been able to determine that West will play an aristocrat who arrives as the guest of Lord Grantham of Hugh Bonneville and his family
This page will keep you updated on the Downton sequel since the first movie became a blockbuster two years ago.
Last month, I revealed that French acting legend Nathalie Baye will join the cast to play an old friend of Maggie Smith’s priceless widow Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley.
What a sight they will all be.