One-click Wonder: Playing the Dane

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The Independent Culture

It’s been reported that David Tennant will reprise his role as Hamlet in a film version of the recent RSC production, to be filmed this summer. Here we recall some other memorable screen portrayals of the dithering Dane...

Laurence Olivier

In his austere, truncated version of the tragedy, released in 1948, actor-director Olivier gave what many still consider the definitive reading of the role, despite its obvious whiff of ham.

Derek Jacobi

Later to play Claudius in Branagh’s Hamlet (see below), Jacobi convincingly held centre stage in the 1980 BBC adaptation, offering a performance of tender romanticism as accomplished as the sets were shoddy.

Mel Gibson

In Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 production, the Lethal Weapon star sadly reduced a man of infinite faculties to a man of infinite earnestness: proof that Shakespearean royalty and Hollywood royalty don’t mix.

Kenneth Branagh

Sporting a blond dye job, Branagh matched a ferocious intellect with a magnetic physical presence in his lavishly produced 1996 version, ensuring it was never dull despite a four-hour running time.

Ethan Hawke

A surprisingly effective 2000 updating saw indie heart-throb Hawke play the Prince as a mumbling NYC slacker, here seen reciting the "To be, or not to be..." soliloquy while prowling the aisles of Blockbuster video.