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Ian McKellen and Gabriel Byrne to Star in ‘Hamlet Revenant,’ Sans Bear Attacks

Ian McKellen
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Ian McKellen is one of the most esteemed board-treaders alive, a thespian who has consistently and successfully balanced work on the stage with appearances before the camera. At 77, he’s had the chance to assay some of history’s great Shakespearean roles, portraying everyone from Macbeth to Coriolanus to Richard III. And today brings the news that a new project will allow him to blend his passions for the proscenium and the closed set in a revisiting of a signature role that McKellen last tackled way back in 1971.

Deadline reports that McKellen has signed on to star in Hamlet Revenant, a project currently getting shopped around at the Cannes marketplace. British filmmaker-academic Ken McMullen has signed on to direct the rework of Shakespeare’s masterpiece of angst and inner turmoil, and while the article doesn’t specify which role McKellen will play, seeing the actor returning to the works of the Bard is cause to rejoicing all on its own. A Royal Affair star Mikkel Boe Følsgaard will sink his teeth into the famously upset Danish prince, and McKellen’s will appear alongside international co-stars Gabriel Byrne and Connie Nielsen as well.

It sounds like Hamlet Revenant (a film that will, in all likelihood, include zero bear attacks of god-squirrel monologues) will be pretty intense, seeing as the Deadline item reads, “Hamlet Revenant brings to the surface the violence and destructive instincts that haunt the human psyche,” and describes the original play as “a vortex of revenge, doubt and madness out of which no main character escapes.” All the stuffy high school study in the world couldn’t rob Shakespeare’s tragedy of its psychological unrest or violent climax — looks like Justin Kurzel’s hardcore Macbeth will soon get a partner piece.

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