William Shakespeare's bloody tragedy Macbeth has been adapted countless times for both the stage and the screen - the most recent cinematic example being Rupert Goold's filmed version of his stage production, which starred Patrick Stewart in the title role. Another notable recent example is Geoffrey Wright's modern-day Australian gangster reinterpretation of the story, in which Sam Worthington played an underboss who usurps the "throne" of a Melbourne crime boss.
A new contender for the crown of Scotland is about to arrive, however, as Michael Fassbender is reportedly attached to play the lead in a new adaptation of Macbeth, which will be directed by Justin Kurzel (Snowtown) from a script by Toss Louiso and Jacob Koskoff.
Though there aren't any concrete details at the moment as to who will be playing Fassbender's counterpart, Lady Macbeth, the ScreenDaily article reports that "at least one Hollywood leading actress" is in talks for the role.
[UPDATE: ScreenDaily has revealed that the leading Hollywood actress they were referring to is Natalie Portman, and she's now signed on to play Lady Macbeth.]
The film is being produced by See Saw Films, the production company behind Steve McQueen's sex addiction drama Shame, which also starred Fassbender in the lead role; they also did Tom Hooper's King George VI biopic The King's Speech, which won four Oscars and was nominated for eight more.
Fassbender is currently filming X-Men: Days of Future Past and is also attached to play Thomas Wolfe in Max Perkins' biopic, Genius. Rumors surrounding a possible reprisal of his role in Prometheus for Ridley Scott's sequel are also developing as the director casts his net out for a new writer.
The actor has also started up his own production company, DMC Films, through which he will be producing and starring in an adaptation of popular video game franchise Assassin's Creed. News has gone a little quiet on this front since writer Michael Lesslie was brought on to write the screenplay a few months ago, and a lot is riding on Assassin's Creed getting off the ground and into production. The film will mark the feature debut of both DMC films and Ubisoft Motion Pictures - and at a press junket last year, Fassbender said that managing to successfully produce something through his new company was part of the reason for taking time off acting:
"I really wanted to make DMC, my production company, really work as opposed to just an idea and you’ve got to put a lot of time into that. So I really did focus energies in that, working with writers, finding the writers, and so now I go back to acting again."
Macbeth is expected to begin filming towards the end of this year, and the script is described as taking a "visceral" approach, particularly to the battle scenes, making it potentially comparable to Ralph Fiennes' recent modern adaptation of Coriolanus. Fassbender's involvement alone is enough to make this new version of a very old story worth watching, and apparently the script was sought after eagerly by several different sales outfits at Cannes before finally being picked up by See Saw and Film4.
Macbeth doesn't have a release date yet, though based on the production schedule it's lilely to arrive in late 2014/early 2015. We'll keep you updated as the project develops.