Skip to main content

Martin Freeman Describes the Challenges of Playing Richard III

Martin Freeman as Richard III.
Image from The Telegraph.
In the Philadelphia Daily News, Martin Freeman describes the challenges of playing Richard III, the role he took on after he finished playing Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's Hobbit:
"Just the physical toll of speaking those many words, that many lines, is hard. Then there's the [disfigured] body, and the limp, and the using one arm, and killing your wife and all that - just punching out that many lines is a challenge, and doing that eight times a week . . ." Freeman paused to consider the tone of his remarks, then laughed. "It's all well worth it, of course."
Freeman said he marvels that his older "Hobbit" co-star and Shakespearean specialist Ian McKellen was able to play Richard at a later stage in life. Freeman played Richard at 43, McKellen at 53.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shakespeare-Movie Soliloquies and Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight

Directors usually handle Shakespearean soliloquies in three ways: (1) they have actors speak directly to the audience, as they would have on the Elizabethan stage; (2) they have actors speak to the air, as if yammering on cellphones; or (3) they use a voice-over, as if we were wire-tapping the characters' brains.
Each strategy has its advantages.
Speaking directly to the audience works well for villains, who share their nasty schemes, preparing us to watch with horror as they dupe unknowing victims. The technique also allows for dark comedy: for example, Ian McKellan's Richard III and Harry J. Lennix's Aaron (in Julie Taymor's Titus) act as satanic stand-up comedians, terrifying us and making us laugh with the same speech.
Having actors talk to themselves produces a different effect, allowing us to pretend we're hearing a character's inward thoughts. This works in both comedies and tragedies. In a comedy, we laugh—or chuckle inwardly—when we hear Emma Thompson'…

Accurate List of Hamlet's Soliloquies

Though Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech is his fourth soliloquy, many websites call it his third. They're skipping the twenty-line speech that follows his interview with the Ghost, which in my view is a particularly bad mistake since Hamlet's monomaniacal vow there is at the heart of his tragedy.

The internet's cosmic sinkhole of misinformation will never be filled, but it's worth throwing some dirt in when we can, so here's an accurate list of Hamlet's soliloquies, with a short description of where they occur and what they say, along with a few observations.

Advice for Reading Richard III and a Summary of the First Two Scenes

Richard III seems complicated because, as the last of a group of four plays, its characters share a bloody past that is unfamiliar to most readers.

But the play isn't as complicated as it seems. In the first half, Richard does everything he can to get the crown. In the second, he does everything he can to keep it. Stay focused on Richard and you won't get lost.
Here's a detailed summary of the first two scenes to help get you started.