Oh my goodness, peeps, in a news flash about as instantaneous as a 7th generation turtle bringing you tidings of a little thing called the Black Death, I am here to tell you that my darling Ethan Hawke starred in a version of Hamlet. Okay, granted, it was in the year 2000. In my defense, I was busy having a baby that year, so somehow I missed the bulletin. I found out today at work, actually. (We sell the video to schools). As soon as night fell, I fired up the old Amazon Prime membership and watched it.
If you’re a Shakespeare nerd like me, check it out. You’ve seen all the medieval replica Hamlets, you’ve seen Kenneth Branaugh be all bad-ass in that weirdly austere set, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Bill Murray as Polonius outfitting Ophelia with a wire for that scene between her and Hamlet. Set in New York City of 2000, it gives the familiar situations a fresh spin. And, yet, it’s already also weirdly, charmingly dated. Ethan Hawke delivers the “to be or not to be” speech while strolling the Action aisle of a now-obsolete Blockbuster store. So cool.
So, what I learned: maybe it’s Bill Murray being awesome, but Polonius is not as much of an idiot as I remember him being. Ophelia is not as much of a weenie. And I get Hamlet’s vacillation much more than I used to. Maybe I’m just getting more patient for weaknesses in my old age.
I memorized a lot of Shakespeare in high school, including many of Hamlet’s speeches. Reciting this soliloquy along with my uber-crush, Ethan Hawke, totally made my night, both because I realized I still remember so much of it but also because it was a reminder that beautiful and powerful words can unite us with people we’ll never meet.
Now that he’s older I hope Ethan Hawke does a Macbeth! I would knock down anyone in my path to be his Lady Macbeth. Yum.
Although he could definitely stand to lose the hat in this scene: