It was in Vietnam, where he was serving in the Marines, that Jim Beaver had his first significant encounter with Shakespeare.
“I was bored to death as most of us were there when we weren”t being terrified,” Beaver recalled. “And I stumbled across this old, beat-up edition of the complete works, and I thought, ‘I”ve heard this guy”s good. I”ll give it a read.” And I did, and I thought it was fascinating.”
Today, he still has that collection of Shakespeare”s complete works in his home.
A couple years after finding that complete works, Beaver was back in the U.S., and as a college student in Oklahoma, he performed in a production of King Lear – that cemented his love of the Bard, said the actor, known best to Supernatural fans as Uncle Bobby and to HBO viewers as the prospector Whitney Ellsworth on Western drama Deadwood. He co-starred in last year”s Crimson Peak alongside Tom Hiddleston – Beaver told me he spent just about all of his downtime on set with Hiddleston chatting about Shakespeare.
Photo courtesy of Jim Beaver
Beaver appeared in several plays during five years with Dallas” Shakespeare festival early in his career. Richard III is one of the plays that”s stuck with him the most, ever since he performed in the history play in the festival in 1976 (pictured above). He says he”d like to play the treacherous hunchback in a film adaptation someday, and he did get to tackle a small part of the play on camera for HitFix”s video series celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare (last month marked 400 years since the incomparable playwright“s death).
For our video series, Beaver read Richard III“s famed opening monologue, one of the few times the title character opens a play by Shakespeare – his plays often begin with other characters talking about the play”s lead, introducing us to the protagonist through others” eyes.
“It”s probably one of the great overdone monologues in Shakespeare, but I love it very much because Shakespeare was a master at creating villains that we love. And nowhere did he do it better than in Richard III,” Beaver told us.
Watch Beaver”s Richard III reading in the video below:
That was the final reading video released in this series. You can watch the others via these links:
And below you can watch the flagship video in this video series celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare, featuring these actors sharing what the Bard has meant to them and their careers.