How Ethan Hawke’s ‘Macbeth’ Is Like ‘Breaking Bad’

Shakespeare drama directed by Jack O'Brien opens at Lincoln Center

The new Broadway revival of “Macbeth,” starring Ethan Hawke, opened Nov. 21 at the Beaumont Theater, and this wasn’t its stars first night out with the Bard. At the backstage press line, Variety asked Hawke how many Shakespeare plays he’s done.

“Well, do I get to include high school?” Hawke wanted to know. (We let him.) “I did a film of ‘Hamlet.’ I did ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and I did ‘Henry IV.’ I did ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in high school. I think that’s it.”

Oh, wait. “I did ‘Pericles’ in summer camp once,” he added.

“The funny thing about doing these plays,” Hawke said, “I don’t find them challenging the way people think. The language is so beautiful. I really feel like it’s a pleasure. The joke I always make is if Shakespeare was this fun to watch as he is as fun to act, the audience would never stop watching anything else. The more you study it the more interesting it becomes. It’s almost like an incantation. When you say it, there’s a spell that happens.”

Director Jack O’Brien, who previously worked with Hawke on a Lincoln Center “Henry IV,” had an interesting read on play. He called Macbeth “the original template for ‘Breaking Bad.’ It’s a good man gone bad for a fairly understandable reason.” And you can almost hear Skyler White’s reading of “out, damned spot!”

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