Denzel Washington is in talks to star alongside Frances McDormand in a new adaptation of Macbeth directed by The Big Lebowski co-helmer Joel Coen. The famous Macbeth stands as one of William Shakespeare's darkest and most disturbing plays, with its story of a Scottish lord and his wife who murder their way to the throne, only to be haunted by the grim consequences of their deeds.
With its classic story of violence and madness, Macbeth has been wholeheartedly embraced by filmmakers over the decades. The legendary Orson Welles, who was himself a great stage performer before going into movies, adapted the play in 1948 with himself as the title character. Roman Polanski famously staged Macbeth as a film in 1971, just two years after the murder of his wife Sharon Tate, crafting one of the darkest and most violent versions of the play. More recently, the play was adapted by Justin Kurzel with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles.
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As reported by Deadline, Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers writing-directing team is set to tackle Shakespeare's Macbeth with his own adaptation, and he's enlisting some heavy-hitting acting talent to help him. Reportedly, Denzel Washington is in talks to tackle the lead role of Macbeth, with Frances McDormand set to play Lady Macbeth. Coen himself is writing the adaptation, with A24 ready to handle distribution.
The team of Coen, Washington and McDormand is certainly a juicy one for film fans. Working alongside his brother Ethan, Coen has snagged 15 Oscar nominations in his career, winning Best Director and Best Picture for 2008's No Country For Old Men, and snagging screenwriting awards for No Country and 1997's Fargo. Washington of course has also nabbed his fair share of gold, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1990 for Glory, and grabbing Best Actor in 2002 for Training Day. He also has a lot of prior experience with Shakespeare, having starred alongside Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in the 1993 film version of Much Ado About Nothing, while appearing in numerous Shakespeare plays on-stage including Coriolanus, Richard III and Julius Caesar. McDormand, who happens to be married to Coen, also has two Oscars, winning Best Actress for Fargo and for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2017.
The Coens obviously have been major players in movies for several decades now, tackling everything from heavy drama and comedy to musicals and Westerns, with their most recent effort coming in 2018 with the Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. However, this is the first time one of the Coens will be tackling Shakespeare. Whatever anxiety Coen might be feeling over diving into the realm of the Bard with Macbeth must be somewhat lessened by knowing he has two of the best and most acclaimed actors of their generation set to handle the story's two pivotal roles.