Film News: Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand to star in Joel Coen’s ‘Macbeth’

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Hollywood royalty Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are set to star in a film adaptation of Macbeth.

Frances McDormand’s husband, Joel Coen, is set to direct and pen an original script. It won’t be the first time that the couple have worked together; McDormand acted in the Coen brothers-directed Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Burn After Reading, and Fargo, which earned McDormand her first Academy Award. The reported Macbeth adaptation is set to be Joel Coen’s first major film without filmmaking partner and brother Ethan by his side.

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most renowned tragedies, telling the story of a Scottish general who is informed by three witches that one day he will become the King of Scotland, leading to a long trail of betrayal, murder, ambition and guilt. Film adaptations of Shakespeare are common but rarely commercially successful, with filmmakers often struggling to bring the Bard’s stories to life on the big screen. Past attempts to tackle Macbeth have been made by Roman Polanski in 1971, Mark Bozel in 2005 and Justin Kurzel in 2015, with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth being played by Jon Finch and Francesca Annis, James McAvoy and Keeley Hawes, and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard respectively.

Denzel Washington, who has won two Academy Awards for Glory and Training Day, was last seen on our screens in 2018’s The Equalizer 2. His son, John David Washington, shot to fame last year after starring as undercover policeman Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee’s Oscar-winning drama BlacKkKlansman. Also the winner of two Oscars, most recently for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand will also star in The French Dispatch and Nomadland, both of which are currently in post-production.

It’s still left to be seen whether Joel’s take on Macbeth will be a traditional, Scots-accent period fare or something a little more Coen-esque and zany. Many of their previous films, including Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men and the recent The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, were all met with critical acclaim.

Words by Steph Green

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