What actor hasn't done Shakespeare that you think should? British or otherwise.
I don’t know about hasn’t. Denzel Washington was so good in Much Ado About Nothing that I’ve always wondered why he hasn’t done more (on film – he may well have done stage work I’m unaware of).
It can be hard to predict who would be good at it – like, the Josh Whedon Much Ado surprised me, because Clark Gregg, of all people, was really natural and comfortable with the language, which I would never have guessed.
There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, worse in theatre than having to listen to someone deliver Shakespeare who clearly doesn’t have the faintest clue what they are saying. I’d love to see Wendell Pierce (Bunk Moreland from the Wire) give it a try – he had some fairly baroque speeches to deliver in the Wire, and he has a fantastic speaking voice.
Shakespeare’s heroines tend to have a bit more…sass to them than the average romantic comedy character, which, combined with the cross-dressing, tends to scare ingenues off, I think. But someone like Saoirse Ronan could do a great Viola or Rosalind. There are also some fantastic parts for older women in the later plays… the problem is that they’re mostly supporting parts – Volumnia in Coriolanus or Paulina in The Winter’s Tale – and the plays are more obscure, so they don’t get adapted much. But I remember watching Slings and Arrows, and hearing Ellen deliver just a little of Paulina’s speech… and feeling genuine regret that we never got to see her do it for real.
The big one that has never been adapted is Antony and Cleopatra, which I would love to see done right. But I have this fear that it would be ruined.
I saw Harriet Walter play Cleopatra and she was sensational is the only word – but I think it’s important to note, Harriet Walter is not what most people would consider a beautiful woman. (I feel so mean writing that). She has a fabulous speaking voice, and she’s very distinctive looking, but not what people think of when they think of the sexy queen of the Nile.
I fear that they’d cast someone like Angelina Jolie or Marion Cottillard… someone who is traditionally sexy and obvious, when actually you need an actor with character to make the part come alive. (I have some admiration of Angelina Jolie’s causes, but I’ve always found her dull as ditchwater on-screen – she’s very beautiful and has a tonne of charisma… but there’s not much in the way of nuance. And I’ve never, ever seen her be funny). Rachel Weisz might be able to pull it off, but I don’t know…I think you want someone with a little more grit. Cleopatra has lived a life by the time we meet her in the play, and I’m struggling to think of an actress who has the facility with the language (which will largely be confined to native English speakers), and has the slightly earthy, womanly quality I’m thinking of. You don’t want someone in her twenties, or possibly even her thirties for that part. Christina Hendricks maybe? (She’s so far from being anyone’s image of Cleopatra as to be almost laughable, but she has some of the qualities I’m thinking of).