I live in New York. I am a comedian, writer and actor. My day job is blogging for VH1.com. I write about the silly things celebrities and pop stars do, so you know...God's work.
You may have seen my writing on many other reputable websites (McSweeney's, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, xojane.com, The Hairpin, Splitsider, The FW, etc.). I also write crazy blogs about Game of Thrones, Magneto and Jeff Goldblum.
Life's weird, right?
Y’all better torrent and watch this—but watch it AFTER at least one other Shakespeare Uncovered episodes for the context—because it is ridiculous, absurd, disturbing and hilarious.
The BBC knew he was dumb. The whole episode is him trying to figure out what he would do if he were to play MacBeth. So he watches film versions first…like before he gets to the text. Then, he’s like, “Oh! I need to see where MacBeth lived!” So he goes to FUCKING SCOTLAND just to stand around, look at Birnam Wood and say stuff like, “Whoa, this is creepy even in the daytime!”
Then, he goes to the text. He goes to an older British actor friend for one-on-one mentoring, because he literally says to this actor, “I don’t know what these words mean!” Which is fine, but then the actor friend is like, “Okay…so…this is the beginning of Act 2, so MacBeth is at this point in the story,” and then the camera zooms in on Ethan Hawke’s confused face of confusion.
I repeat, the directors and producers of the special ZOOMED in, from across the room, Ethan Hawke’s dumb face trying to grasp the play.
There’s a part where he watches the Sleep No More cast play the parts without words and says, “Oh, you know Shakespeare is more powerful without the language because I don’t have to struggle with not knowing what the words mean,” and the Sleep No Morecast smiles and nods at this man who claims Shakespeare is better without the Shakespeare. They continue to smile and nod as he muses out loud that physicality in acting can actually tell you a lot about character and relationship. Like this grown man who has been professionally acting his entire life is finally discovering that acting is more than just memorizing lines, and they have to smile politely and nod. It’s hilariously awkward.
Finally, they let him look at a First Folio and he thumbs through it without gloves muttering, “I’m going to straight my favorite speech,” but he can’t find it in the text, because he clearly doesn’t know where in the text it even is. The pages are numbered and marked with Acts and Scenes, and he still can’t find it. So, his sweaty, coffee scented (he carries a coffee cup around through most of the episode) fingers are all over a fucking First Folio, smudging and oiling up the paper for generations to come. As a former Library of Congress intern, this didn’t make me laugh; this horrified me.
He also says towards the beginning that Central Park reminds him of the Weird Sisters because the geography of Central Park creates, and I quote, “an invisible scrim” between two worlds. The city and “another world of trees”.
I just tweeted this, among other jokes and thoughts related to the whole Tosh rape joke thing (which is too complicated and layered for me to talk about in a simple Tumblr post—I may take my thoughts on it to HuffPo).
Anyhoo…Ethan Hawke. Wow.
So, I’ve watched four out of the five released “Shakespeare Uncovered” documentary specials that the BBC has done. They’ve all been brilliant thus far—including poor, silly Derek Jacobi’s special on Richard II that asserts Edward de Vere wrote Shakespeare’s plays—and now I’m starting on the MacBeth episode.
Of all the actors and directors available, they let ETHAN “THE ORIGINAL JAMES FRANCO” HAWKE, narrate and host the MacBeth episode.
Why is this ridiculous?
I’m not three minutes in and Ethan Hawke is already grandstanding in the middle of New York streets and admitting he’s never actually performed the role…and therefore has no connection.
Sure, Joely Richardson wasn’t in As You Like It or Twelfth Night, but her mother was in As You Like It, and it’s clear from up top that she loves and knows both texts. She’s done tons of reputable theater and her family has been performing the Bard for generations. Her special was awesome. Director Trevor Nunn hosts the The Tempest episode. Jacobi, who played Richard II in the late 70s gets the Richard II one. Jeremy Irons, who’s playing Henry IV right now, gets the Henry plays. David Tennant wraps up the series next week with Hamlet—WHICH HE’S PLAYED—and he’s former RSC.
ETHAN HAWKE GET OUT. GET OUT ETHAN HAWKE. I’M TOO TIRED FOR THIS RIGHT NOW.
(Oh, and when will Ewan McGregor finally get to play the Scottish King? I’ve been dying for it since I was 14.)