James Bond

Shakespeare at the Movies- Spectre

Spectre is the 24th film in the James Bond series, and is being released this Friday. The film series has been around for 53 years, and many could argue that it is one of the most popular British cultural exports (Along with Shakespeare, of course!) Let’s take a look at the Spectre cast, and see how many have Shakespeare on their resumes!


Daniel Craig (James Bond)

Appeared in:

  • Macbeth (Royal National Theatre, 1993)
  • Pericles (Royal National Theatre, 1994)
  • Othello (New York Theatre Workshop, 2016) as Iago

07/07/2011 PA File Photo of Ralph Fiennes. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ Insider. Picture credit should read: Ian West/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Insider.

Ralph Fiennes (M)

Appeared in:

  • Antony and Cleopatra (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • King Lear (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • Hamlet (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • Macbeth (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1988) as Claudio
  • Henry VI (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1988) as Henry VI
  • Richard II (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1988) as Henry VI
  • King John (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1988) as Lewis the Dauphin
  • Cymbeline (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Tempest (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Winter’s Tale (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1990) as Berowne
  • King Lear (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1990) as Edmond
  • Troilus and Cressida (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1990) as Troilus
  • Hamlet (Almeida Theatre, 1995) as Hamlet
  • Richard II (Almeida Theatre, 2000) as Richard II
  • Coriolanus (Almeida Theatre, 2000) as Coriolanus
  • Measure for Measure (British National Theatre, 2002)
  • Julius Caesar (International Tour, 2005) as Marc Anthony
  • Coriolanus (2011) as Coriolanus


Ben Whishaw (Q)

Appeared in:

  • The Hollow Crown- Richard II (TV mini series, 2012) as King Richard
  • Hamlet (Old Vic Theatre, 2004) as Hamlet


Andrew Scott (C)

Appeared in:

  • The Hollow Crown- Henry VI Part 2 (TV mini series, 2016) as King Louis XI of France

London Evening Standard Theatre Awards held at the Savoy - Arrivals Featuring: Rory Kinnear Where: London, United Kingdom When: 17 Nov 2013 Credit: Duval/WENN.com

Rory Kinnear (Tanner)

Appeared in:

  • The Tempest (Theatre Royal, 2002) as Caliban
  • Cymbeline (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2003) as Caius Lucius
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2003) as Tranio
  • Hamlet (Old Vic Theatre, 2004) as Laertes
  • Hamlet (National Theatre, 2010) as Hamlet
  • The Hollow Crown- Richard II (TV mini series, 2012) as Bolingbroke
  • Othello (National Theatre, 2013) as Iago

Wordy Wednesday!

“Fight till the last gasp” ~ This phrase, commonly used today, was coined by Shakespeare in the history play Henry VI Part I.


My lord, where are you? what devise you on?                                                        Shall we give over Orleans, or no?

Joan la Pucelle:                     

Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants!
Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard.

Charles, King of France:     

What she says I’ll confirm: we’ll fight it out.

Joan la Pucelle:                      

Assign’d am I to be the English scourge.     (1)                                                                                                                        

In Henry VI Part I – Act One Scene Two, Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc) rouses the French Army Commanders into action and promises to show unwavering courage and commitment in the battlefield against the English and demands the same from them.

joan of arc


Through Joan Shakespeare invokes the never yielding spirit of a true warrior to keep fighting – even if it is with their last dying breath, and in so doing, coined the now widely used phrase: fight till the last gasp.

Last Gasp:

Idiom – The moment before death; also, the end (3)

Origin – 1350-1400; Middle English gaspen,  equivalent to Old Norse geispa  (4)

Today, the ‘fight till the last gasp’ analogy is commonly used in the sporting arena, where sports men and women do battle to the bitter end, never yielding until the final whistle is blown or the chequered flag is waved.  Instead of  “the vasty fields of France” (5), it is now on the rugby field where you would see France and England battle it out for the spoils of victory in the Rugby Union Six Nations Championship every year.

The unyielding, never say die attitude and strength of will of Shakespeare’s Joan la Pucelle is evoked poignantly in the final lines of Alfred Tennyson’s epic poem Ulysses.  This transcendental notion, whether used literally or figuratively, of never giving up and fighting until the end for what you believe in has been a mainstay of our theatrical and cinematic culture.  Most recently, Dame Judi Dench as M in the new James Bond film Skyfall, during a government enquiry into the current effectiveness of the British Secret Service, delivers a powerful rendering of Tennyson’s immortal lines:

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.   (6)

As the head of MI6, Dench’s character is alluding to the fact that England’s enemy is no longer visible – no longer a nation that can be fought on a battlefield, but one that lingers in the shadows, and that her department will strive to defend and protect the people in this ever-changing world. (7)  Or as Bond himself refers to it earlier in the film, using another Shakespearean phrase – this “brave new world”. (8)

By Linda Nicoll


1.         Henry VI Part I [I. ii. 323-328]

2.         Diomedia: Copyright ©1999-2013 Diosphere Ltd t/a DIOMEDIA [http://www.diomedia.com/public/15413/25/en/imageSearch.html;jsessionid=0964C69CB491FD7FCBC6CB8958011560.worker2] Accessed 15/01/2013

3.         Ammer, C (1997) The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston, MA.

4.         Dictionary.com: Copyright © 2013 Dictionary.com, LLC [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/last+gasp] Accessed 15/01/2013

5.        Henry V [Prologue. 13]

6.        Tennyson, A. T., & Day, A. (1991). Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selected Poems. Penguin Classics. London

7.         Skyfall ~ James Bond. Dir. Sam Mendes. MGM. 2012

8.         The Tempest [V. i. 2235]