Michael Almereyda


Michael Almereyda’s (Hamlet) latest film adaptation of a work of William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, has a lot going for it on the surface. Not only does it feature all of the flowery language and intricate, twisting plot elements that one would associate with a work that was penned by the Bard, but it also features an extensive ensemble cast that’s full of familiar faces, and more action than you can shake a stick at. Almereyda has taken a pretty soap opera-heavy story about love and deceit, set in a world of ancient nobility, and plopped it right down in a modern drug war between a crew of corrupt cops and a gang of unruly bikers, he’s got big stars like Ethan Hawke, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Ed Harris, and a handful of others helping to bring it all to life, and he’s brought more car crashes, machine guns, and explosions to the table than anybody likely ever imagined they would see in an adaptation of a Shakespeare work. What’s not to like? Well, seeing as Cymbeline seems to be trying to be all things to all people, that lack of focus on a clear tone could result in there being quite a few things not to like. At least for the people who have to sell it to audiences.



The cast of Michael Almereyda’s latest modern update of a Shakespeare work, Cymbeline, keeps swelling with notable names. The casting story on this one started with the news that Ethan Hawke, who also starred in Almereyda’s 2000 version of Hamlet, would be lending his hand in an undisclosed role to this film as well, it kept going with the news that Ed Harris had been brought on to play the title character of the piece, King Cymbeline, and somewhere along the lines Penn Badgley and Milla Jovovich were brought on board as well. That’s a pretty solid lineup already, and Almereyda wasn’t event done yet. The latest casting news, from Screen Daily, is that two more notable names have just been brought on board to round out the cast. Said names are Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin and 21 Jump Street’s Dakota Johnson. Given the amount of actors already signed for this one and the fact that Shakespeare’s original story is kind of complex, figuring out who everybody is playing is something of a confusing endeavor. Let’s do our best to untangle the knot.



The best part of the 2000 Hamlet adaptation starring Ethan Hawke may have been seeing Bill Murray attempt Shakespeare and be brutally murdered for doing so. Yet the same creative team behind this previous Shakespeare retelling are at it again. Deadling reports that Hawke and Hamlet writer/director Michael Almereyda will be teaming up once more to put one of the Bard’s lesser-known works – “Cymbeline“- up on the big screen. And just like the previous Hamlet (see also: almost every other Shakespeare play put on film in the last twenty years), Cymbeline will place Shakespeare’s story in the present day. This will reportedly involve two lovers adrift in a sea of dirty cops battling Sons of Anarchy-style biker gangs, with a style not unlike ROMEO + JULIET. There’s no word yet on how this will tie into the actual plot of “Cymbeline,” which involves a king and his daughter, the latter marrying a common man against her father’s wishes. Also, the original play is considered to be somewhere between a comedy and a drama and, from the sound of it, this re-telling doesn’t seem like a laugh riot. But let’s not pass judgement just yet (even though it’s both easy and fun). Hawke has his share of Shakespeare experience – not only with Hamlet, but on the actual stage, having performed in both “Macbeth” and “The Winter’s Tale.” And hey, maybe Bill Murray will show up again. One can always hope.

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published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015
published: 01.26.2015

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