'I can't believe we did this': Frances McDormand chokes up with Denzel Washington over 'Tragedy of Macbeth'
NEW YORK - Did you really think “The Tragedy of Macbeth” was anything but awesome?
Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are at the forefront of their play in the terrifying new adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, written and directed by Joel Coen (made famous by Coen Brothers in his first theatrical appearance without brother Ethan).
The drama, which opens the New York Film Festival (from Friday to October 10th), pays homage to Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman: Shot in captivating black and white, the Oscar-worthy film does not try to hide this, and was performed almost exclusively on a sound stage , complete with labyrinthine castles and misty Scottish moors.
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Denzel Washington (left) and Frances McDormand star in Joel Coen's upcoming Shakespeare adaptation "The Tragedy of Macbeth".
Washington, of course, plays Macbeth, a tired general in the twilight of his life who, at the insistence of his wife, Lady Macbeth (McDormand), secretly plans to kill King Duncan (Brendan Gleeson) to wrest the Scottish throne. But with blood on his hands and an ever-increasing body of bodies, Macbeth soon becomes plagued with fear and guilt and gradually goes insane.
At 66, Washington is older than most actors usually cast as Macbeth, adding new shades of despair, anger and to the tormented character played on stage and on screen by Patrick Stewart, Kenneth Branagh and Michael Fassbender Gives regret. McDormand, 64, is similarly Vulcan but also finds unexpected tenderness and humor in the extremely loyal Lady Macbeth, who knows deep down that the murder of Duncan is her last chance to gain power.
"That's it. This is the last iteration (for them)," Washington said on Friday afternoon during a Q&A for journalists ahead of the film's world premiere that evening. "They were transgressed by kings and they want it. And we understand that."
Frances McDormand (left) and Denzel Washington attend a press conference on "The Tragedy of Macbeth", the opening film of the New York Film Festival.
Washington was joined by Coen, McDormand and co-stars Bertie Carvel, Moses Ingram and Harry Melling during the animated, sometimes emotional, panel. At one point, McDormand said she thought Shakespeare would be happy to see her adaptation. Minutes later her phone went off in the middle of the call.
"Is that Willy (Shakespeare) on the phone?" Washington joked and laughed when McDormand pulled an old clamshell phone out of her purse.
The three-time Oscar-winner for best actress, who picked up her latest trophy for Nomadland in April, previously played Lady Macbeth on stage at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, California in 2016. But she played the famous sleepwalking scene first the character as a 14-year-old in English class - a driving factor behind her desire to become an actress.
"I basically practiced and prepared for 50 years," said McDormand. “This is a perfect punctuation mark for me in many ways.
"When I hear our company talk - that's another thing from being an elder - I keep getting suffocated," McDormand continued. "I can't believe we did that ..." She paused and held back tears as Washington took her hand.
Washington, a two-time Oscar winner, is also a veteran Shakespeare. He appeared in the 1993 film "Much Ado About Nothing" and appeared on the New York stage in "Othello", "Richard III" and "Julius Caesar".
Returning to the bard now is "the ultimate challenge, it's the ultimate reward," Washington said. "I started here and want to end here."
"The Tragedy of Macbeth" has received almost constant reviews so far. It opens in theaters on December 25, before streaming on Apple TV + on January 14, 2022.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Frances McDormand talks to Denzel Washington about "Macbeth"
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