The new adaptation will be set in modern-day London instead of 17th century Denmark.
Chatter has been alight for the past three years about a new Hamlet in the works. Now, reputable film sources have confirmed that it’s finally happening. Acclaimed actor Riz Ahmed will play Hamlet in a new Netflix adaptation to be directed by British filmmaker Aneil Karia. Michael Lesslie (Macbeth, Assassin’s Creed) will pen the script, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and Jim Wilson (Waves, Swing Vote) will come on as producer. Ahmed follows in the illustrious footsteps of Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, Ethan Hawke and Oscar Isaac. Over fifty adaptations of Hamlet have been produced since 1990, some of them good, some bad, but this is the first time Hamlet will be played by an actor of South East Asian heritage.
Ahmed has a string of independent films (Ill Manors, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Nightcrawler), blockbusters (Star Wars, Bourne), and an Emmy winning television performance (The Night Of) under his belt. He earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for his most recent film, Sound of Metal, about a drummer and former heroin addict who suddenly goes deaf and joins a remote community to piece his crumbling life back together.
Karia, on the other hand, just wrapped up filming the closing episodes of Top Boy, about the struggles of Summerhouse estate residents in the London Borough of Hackney. His most recent feature, SURGE, about a man who goes on a “bold and reckless journey of self-liberation” after losing his job, premiered at Sundance last year. The film featured a blistering performance by lead man, Ben Whishaw.
This won’t be the first time Ahmed and Aneil have collaborated. Ahmed has a lesser known career as a rapper and last year released The Long Goodbye, an album about his “painful” breakup with post-Brexit Britain. The album’s nine tracks are accompanied by a short film directed by Aneil, with a plot focusing “on a British South Asian family who are executed in the streets by a racist gang,” according to The Dhaka Tribune. Both album and film explore Ahmed’s growing disillusionment with what he sees as an increasingly racist political culture in Britain today.
We don’t know when filming on the new adaptation will begin, and a release date hasn’t been set. But keep your ears open and we’ll most certainly keep you posted.
Words by Camilla Patini
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