The work of William Shakespeare is constantly being staged and filmed, but it’s been a while since we had a truly big Bard movie with movie stars and household name filmmakers and everything. That’s about to change. For his next film, Joel Coen — one half, along with Ethan, of the Coen brothers — will, via Variety, tackle the text superstitious theater actors call “the Scottish play,” a.k.a. Macbeth, and it will star no less than Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.
The Oscar winners will take on one of theater’s most notorious power couples, who murder their way to the throne of Scotland, only to meet justly grisly ends. There’s no word yet on who will play, say, Banquo or Macduff or the witches, though may we suggest filling those roles with Coen vets like Stephen Root, John Goodman, Tilda Swinton, and the cat from Inside Llewyn Davis?
You also may have noticed something else: the lack of Ethan Coen. Joel used to score sole director’s credit up until 2004’s remake of The Ladykillers, but it appears Ethan will be nowhere to be found this round. Considering the two — whose last film was the Netflix-produced The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — are regularly described as being two people who behave as one, that’s a touch worrisome, but probably ultimately fine. Besides, what better co-writer to have than William Shakespeare?
Actually, the last closest thing to a big Shakespeare movie was also a take on the “Scottish play,” namely the one from 2015 that starred Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Though there are other Bard plays, everyone — 36 others, to be exact. Perhaps Coen’s take on Shakespeare will kickstart a Shakespeare Cinematic Universe. Hamlet’s pretty good. Richard III is, too, and it already made for a fun Ian McKellen movie back in 1995. Don’t sleep on The Merchant of Venice either, though that one could be seen these days as a touch problematic.