Shakespeare at the Movies (and on Television!) Emmys 2015 Edition

The 67th Annual Primtetime Emmys happened a couple of weekends ago, and many actors were honoured with a statue for their work in television over the last year. I know it’s a bit late, but many of the nominees are seasoned Shakespearean actors, so I had to share a list of their work with all of you!



David Oyelowo (Nightingale)

Appeared in:
  • Antony and Cleopatra (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1999) as Decretas
  • Antony and Cleopatra (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1999) as Menacrates
  • Richard III (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2001) as Ghost of Henry VI
  • Henry VI Part 1 (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2000) as Henry VI
  • Henry VI Part 2 (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2000) as Henry VI
  • Henry VI Part 3 (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2000) as Henry VI
  • As You Like It (2006) as Orlando De Boys

Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall)

Appeared in:
  • The Tempest (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1982) as Ariel
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1982) Lucentio, Player
  • Antony and Cleopatra (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • King Lear (British National Theatre, 1987)
  • Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1988) as Hamlet
  • Antony and Cleopatra (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • Cymbeline (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Tempest (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • The Winter’s Tale (British National Theatre, 1988)
  • Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1989) as Romeo
  • Macbeth (Greenwich Theatre, 1995) as Macbeth
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1996) as Proteus
  • The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1998) as Bassanio
  • Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1999) as Cleopatra
  • Hamlet (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2000) as Hamlet
  • Romeo and Juliet (British National Theatre, 2000)
  • Cymbeline (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2001) as Posthumus/ Cloten
  • Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2001) as Olivia
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (British National Theatre, 2001)
  • The Winter’s Tale (British National Theatre, 2001)
  • Hamlet (British National Theatre, 2001)
  • Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2003) as Richard II
  • Measure for Measure (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2004) as Vincentio
  • The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 2005) as Prospero/Stephano/Sebastian/Alonso
  • Anonymous (2011) as Condell
  • Much Ado About Nothing (The Old Vic, 2013)

Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Freak Show)

Appeared in:
  • Titus (1999) as Tamora

Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge)

Appeared in:
  • Twelfth Night (Alliance Theatre, 1982)



Emma Thompson -

Emma Thompson (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (Live From Lincoln Center))

Appeared in:

  • Henry V (1989) as Princess Katherine de Valois
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (International Tour, 1990) as Helena
  • King Lear (International Tour, 1990) as The Fool
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1993) as Beatrice


Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

Appeared in:
  • Richard II (Old Vic Theatre, 2005) as Richard II



Premiere Of AMC's

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Appeared in:
  • Timon of Athens (Sacred Fools Theatre Company, 1998) as Flavius

Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)

Appeared in:
  • Cymbeline (Shakespeare in the Park, 1998) as Iachimo
  • Macbeth (Joseph Papp Public Theater, 1998) as Banquo
  • Hamlet (2000) as Laertes
  • Henry V (Shakespeare in Central Park, 2003) as Henry V



Amy Poehler (Parks And Recreation)

Appeared in:

  • Hamlet 2 (2008) as Cricket Feldstein


Claire Danes (Homeland)

Appeared in:
Romeo + Juliet (1996) as Juliet

Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele)

Appeared in:

  • The Second City’s Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet (Second City, 2004) as Romeo



Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Appeared in:
  • Macbeth (Music Box Theater, 2004) as Lennox
  • Richard III (The Public Theatre, 2004) as Buckingham

Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

Appeared in:
  • Shakespeare: The Animated Tales- Julius Caesar (TV mini-series, 1994) as Mark Antony
  • Richard III (1995) as Lord William Hastings
  • Shakespeare in Love (1998) as Ralph Bashford

Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones)

Appeared in:

  • Richard III (Public Theatre, 2004) as Richard III

Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)

Appeared in:
  • Macbeth (Tron Theatre, 1985) as Malcom
  • As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1989) as Courtier, Silvius
  • Hamlet (Royal National Theatre, 1990)
  • Richard III (Royal National Theatre, 1990)
  • Titus (1999) as Saturninus
  • The Tempest (2010) as Sebastian

Allison Janney (Mom)

Appeared in:
  • 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) as Ms. Perky

Anna Chlumsky (Veep)

Appeared in:

  • Measure for Measure (Astoria Performing Arts Center, 2004) as Isabella

Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)

Appeared in:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (TV movie, 1982) as Helena

Paul Giamatti (Inside Amy Schumer)

Appeared in:

  • Hamlet (Yale University Theater, 2013) as Hamlet
  • Romeo and Juliet (2013) as Friar Laurence



Scarface Blu-Ray DVD Release Party

F. Murray Abraham (Homeland)

Appeared in:
  • Macbeth (Belasco Theatre, 1986) as Macbeth
  • The Merchant of Venice (Theatre for a New Audience, 2007) as Shylock

Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards)

Appeared in:
  • Macbeth (Theatre for a New Audience, 1999) as Banquo




Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is The New Black)

Appeared in:

  • Julius Caesar (New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, 2000)


Joan Cusack (Shameless)

Appread in:
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Goodman Theatre, 1991)




Diana Rigg (Game Of Thrones)

Appeared in:
  • Coriolanus (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1959) as Roman Citizen
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1960) as Wench
  • Troilus and Cressida (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1960) as Andromache
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1961) as Bianca
  • The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1962) as Adriana
  • Macbeth (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1962) as Lady Macduff
  • King Lear ((Royal Shakespeare Company, 1962) as Cordelia
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1962) as Helena
  • Twelfth Night (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1966) as Viola
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968) as Helena
  • Julius Caesar (1970) as Portia
  • Macbeth (National Theatre, 1972) as Lady Macbeth
  • Richard II (National Theatre, 1972)
  • Measure for Measure (National Theatre, 1973)
  • Hamlet (National Theatre, 1974)
  • Julius Caesar (National Theatre, 1977)
  • King Lear (TV movie, 1983) as Regan
  • Richard II (National Theatre, 1995)
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor (National Theatre, 1995)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (National Theatre, 2001)
  • The WInter’s Tale (National Theatre, 2001)
  • Hamlet (National Theatre, 2001)


Bill Murray (Olive Kitteridge)

Appeared in:

  • Hamlet (2000) as Polonius
19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Damian Lewis (Wolf Hall)

Appeared in:
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1996) as Don John
  • Cymbeline (Royal Shakespeare Company, 1997) as Posthumus Leonatus
  • ShakespeaRE-Told- Much Ado About Nothing (TV mini-series, 2005) as Benedick
  • Romeo and Juliet (2013) as Lord Capulet

Angela Bassett (American Horror Story: Freak Show)

Appeared in:
  • Macbeth (Joseph Papp Public Theater, 1998) as Lady Macbeth
 Did I miss someone? Which of these roles is your favourite? Leave a comment and let us know!

RIP Donald Sinden

Today, the theatre world lost one of its greatest talents. Donald Sinden has passed away at the age of 90. He appeared in many stage productions throughout his lengthy career, including many Shakespearean roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy one of his performances, you can watch him in The Wars of the Roses, a Royal Shakespeare Company TV event from 1965 right here:

Shakespeare and The Simpsons

The Simpsons is satire of contemporary culture, therefore pop culture references are a huge part of the show. Shakespeare references are used on The Simpsons a lot (no wonder OJ Villacorta called The Simpsons Shakespeare remixes “Shakespeare for a younger generation”!) The Simpsons has continuously done Shakespeare remixes and includes multiple subtle references to Shakespeare’s plays. Below is a list of some Shakespeare references on The Simpsons.

1. The Episode Titles
Some of The Simpsons episode titles have names that reference Shakespeare’s plays, but aren’t the same storyline. Here are two episode titles I found that are clever spins on the titles of Shakespeare’s plays: Much Apu About Nothing (a take on Much Ado About Nothing) and Midsummer Nice Dream (a take on Midsummer Night’s Dream).

2. The “Do The Bard Man” segment from “Tales From The Public Domain”: The Simpsons version of Hamlet
This is considered to be one of the most well known and least subtle references to a Shakespeare play, because it’s a Simpsons adaptation of Hamlet, where the Simpsons characters play Hamlet characters. Do The Bard Man was what introduced me to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and I consider it to be the most effective reference to Shakespeare that the Simpsons has ever done, because it’s the perfect combination of Simpsons style humor, direct quotations from the original play, and Hamlet satire. The key difference between the Simpsons adaptation of Hamlet and the original play is the deaths. Everyone still dies in the end but the causes of death are different than the original play for the sake of making the plot significantly more comedic.

3. The Simpsons version of Macbeth: a segment from “ Four Great Women and A Manicure”
If you haven’t already seen The Simpsons version of Macbeth on the “Four Great Women And A Manicure” episode, the title explains itself. The Macbeth segment starts after an exchange between Lisa and Marge, where they’re bonding and having a manicure, while they talk about great and powerful women of history. Unlike the “Do The Bard Man” segment, it’s not a direct adaptation of a Shakespeare play. The Macbeth segment features all of the Simpsons characters as themselves, experiencing a Shakespearean dilemma.

Simpsons do Macbeth (from S20E20) from Gc Howard on Vimeo.

Here’s a plot summary to explain what I mean when I say it’s a Shakespearean dilemma:  Marge convinces Homer to try out for a Springfield stage adaptation of Macbeth. When he gets a part in the play that’s not the lead role, Marge convinces Homer to kill the actor playing Macbeth. As soon as the news spreads that their lead is dead, Homer is chosen to play Macbeth. When the play is performed in front of an audience for the first time, the critics give Homer’s cast mates better reviews than him. Every time an actor gets all the positive reviews or someone gets in the way of Homer’s path to success, Marge convinces Homer to kill them. This cycle of killing continues until Homer is the only one still alive. The ghosts of the dead Macbeth cast find out that Marge is what caused Homer to kill them and get revenge on her. When she dies, Homer is alone and delivers Macbeth’s famous “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy to the ghost of his dead wife.

The plot of The Simpsons version of Macbeth is a direct reference to the original play because the circumstance mirrors the plotline of the original. Although the Simpsons characters portray themselves in a contemporary Springfield, the arch of the story is similar. Both Marge and Lady Macbeth are convincing their husbands to kill because they want power, which in The Simpsons power relates to fame and fortune. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, power is being wealthy and a member of the royalty. Both women convince their husbands to kill all who stand in the way of their pursuit of power and face the consequences although in The Simpsons version of <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Macbeth, the consequences are different than the original for the sake of making it comedic.

These are some of the most well known (and easy to spot) references to Shakespeare in The Simpsons although there are several. Next time you watch The Simpsons, look out for the Shakespeare tributes hidden in some of the episodes.

Remembering Bob Hoskins

Hollywood actor Bob Hoskins passed away earlier today. Some of his most memorable performances were on the big screen (I am sure most of us will remember him in Who Framed Roger Rabbit,) but he spent a lot of time on the stage as well. His stage debut was in 1969, playing Peter in a Victoria Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet.
Bob went on to have a lengthy career on stage, television and in film in both America and the UK. Let’s remember this great actor and the entertainment he provided us over the years. Here is a link to the BBC TV movie version of Othello from 1981 where he played Iago, alongside Anthony Hopkins in the titular role.

“Here is my journey’s end, here is my butt,
And very sea-mark of my utmost sail.
Do you go back dismayed? ’tis a lost fear.”
-Othello, Act V Scene 2

The Shakespeare/ Whedon Connection

Today I’m going to do a blog entry about Joss Whedon and his connection to Shakespeare. For those of you that don’t know who Joss Whedon is, his most famous work is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which was extremely popular in the nineties and early 2000s, ran for seven seasons, and reruns are still played on some local TV stations.


In 2012, Joss Whedon did a modern, movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Yes, he did a modern adaptation of a Shakespeare play, but what else do him and Shakespeare have in common? Well…lots. The most significant link is the fact that there are multiple references to Shakespeare in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Buffy The Vampire Slayer contains multiple direct Shakespeare quotations, and one of the characters shares the same name as a character from King Lear, Cordelia.

Choosing to include subtle culture references is an example of the one thing William Shakespeare and Joss Whedon have in common: they bring culture to the masses. Whedon and Shakespeare both wrote fairy tale like fables. These fables successfully appeal to the masses through creating stories that both fascinate the audience with their stories that are both from a world that’s different from the one that the audience lives in, and contains characters that the masses can relate to.

Shakespeare and Whedon’s common goal makes Dave Golder’s belief that, if Shakespeare where alive today he would write television scripts one hundred percent true. Yes, the language would have to be a lot less flowery to make the script Buffy proof, but Golden illustrates the language differences, and how this can be addressed by creating a list of famous Shakespeare quotes and showing us how Buffy character Xander Harris would say the same thing (see link to read Golder’s list ).

Shakespeare at the Movies- The Muppets

Since the 1950’s, Jim Henson and Co. have been delighting children and adults alike with their band of Muppets!
The Muppets have appeared in many movies and have had several television shows since their debut, constantly making reference to Shakespeare and other important literary figures along the way.
Since Kermit and the rest of The Muppets are back on the big screen this week, let’s take a look at some of the nods to Shakespeare over the years!

Monsterpiece Theatre appeared on Sesame Street, and featured Cookie Monster introducing skits based on some of the great literary classics! Shakespeare’s work appeared in this segment several times.

A segment on The Muppet Show called Veterinarian’s Hospital tried to find out how many Shakespeare references can fit into a minute and a half.

Patrick Stewart appeared on Sesame Street and pondered the age old question- “B… Or not a B?”

The Muppet Show had many panel discussions during its run. One of the more important topics discussed; Was William Shakespeare, in fact, bacon?

Garth Brooks made some Shakespearean modifications to the duet he planned on doing with Miss Piggy during a taping of Muppets Tonight.

I know we haven’t even begun to list all of the Shakespeare references in the Muppets’ work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some more on your own! Which Shakespeare reference is your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know!

Shakespeare at the Movies- The Oscars 2014

The nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards are in, and I must say, there is some fierce competition for a statue this year!
Until the awards are actually given out on March 2, we can only speculate on the internet and join the office pool, guessing who will walk away a winner. In the meantime, we can dive into the nominees past works, and learn about the interesting and brilliant choices that this group of actors have made throughout their careers.

Seeing as we are a Shakespeare related theatre company, I have sifted though the careers of the nominees and compiled a list of some of the Shakespeare related works that they have been a part of over the years! Enjoy!


Christian Bale (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:


Chiwetel Ejiofor (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Macbeth (1997 theatre production) as Malcom
  • Romeo and Juliet (2000 theatre production) as Romeo
  • Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003 TV movie) as Orsino
  • Othello (2007 theatre production) as Othello


Leonardo DiCaprio (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:


Amy Adams (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Into the Woods (2012 Shakespeare in the Park Production) as Baker’s Wife


Cate Blanchett (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Richard II (2009 Sydney Festival) as Richard II

*Fun Fact- This role was part of a show called The War of the Roses, which condensed all of Shakespeare’s historical plays into one 8 hour performance!


Judi Dench (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

*Fun Fact- Judi Dench also performed with The Royal Shakespeare Company for many years.


Meryl Streep (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • The Taming of the Shrew (1978 Shakespeare in the Park Production)  as Katherine
  • Romeo and Juliet (2012 Shakespeare in the Park Staged Reading) as Juliet


Michael Fassbender (Best Supporting Actor Nominee)

Appearing in:

  • Macbeth (Currently in Pre-production) as Macbeth


Sally Hawkins (Best Supporting Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Much Ado About Nothing (2000 theatre production)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2000 theatre production)


Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • The Winter’s Tale (Yale School of Drama Production)
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Yale School of Drama Production)

Have you seen any of these movies or performances? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!