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Naomi Watts Joins Hopkins, Paltrow, and Knightley for 'King Lear'

naomiwatts3.jpgA new production of King Lear is beginning to look like an incredibly promising Shakespeare film. As we reported last month, Anthony Hopkins is set to tackle one of the Bard's most tortured characters, with Keira Knightley and Gwyneth Paltrow singing on to play his daughters. The only thing is, Lear has three daughters.

Enter Naomi Watts, whom The Guardian confirms will play the eldest of the three girls. I guess Mom must've been quite a looker if these are her three girls...because they didn't get it from the King.

Don't expect a big, glitzy Shakespeare, though, just because the actors are all Academy Award nominees and movie stars in their own right. Director Joshua Michael Stern told the paper, "The one thing that I'm staying away from is stunt casting. So there won't be the American comedian, but there will be some really great actors playing smaller roles that will make a lot of sense," he said, taking a shot at Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, which featured both Billy Crystal and Robin Williams in small roles.

"I'm not very fond of the modern adaptations... It's pre-Roman, Celtic, very raw," Stern continued. "It's a period in British history, from which (J.R.R.) Tolkien took a lot of his inspiration, where there were thatched-roof roundhouses and fortresses."

This description reminds me a lot of the Zeffirelli/Mel Gibson Hamlet, which is sparse, dark, and seems very authentic. I love the Branagh Hamlet, which moved the setting around a bit and was the first full version of the play ever filmed. King Lear is probably even more desperate and depressing than Hamlet, so the right setting can really help establish things for the actors. And that's one hell of a competent cast.

The best news out of all of this is that there isn't really a definitive film version of Lear, one of Shakespeare's best works. This one could be on its way to filling that role.

Reader Comments (5)

The cast sounds like it could be a good film, not sure about the director though.

I'm not fond of some whipper-snapper making derisive comments about Branagh's Hamlet. Crystal was very good as the Gravedigger and Williams was playing the part very close to as it was written. I wouldn't be surprised if his next comment suggests that there won't be the American legend making an apperance either, such as Charlton Heston or Jack Lemmon.

Let's see how your little Costner comeback movie does before you get all snarky, Jackass...

Sunday, June 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

It's as if I wrote that last comment myself. I'm fine with Crystal in Hamlet, but Williams and Jack Lemmon weren't really very good. Heston, on the other hand, was absolutely magnificent as The Player King.

But in general, yes, if I were the guy who made Swing Vote I don't think I'd be invited a dust storm of criticism by mocking Kenneth Branagh, who's the best living Shakespearean film resource between Henry V, Much Ado and Hamlet. He was good as Iago, too, although the movie wasn't spectacular.

Sunday, June 29, 2008 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

I just like that file photo of Watts.


Monday, June 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWill

One of my all-time favorite blondes. Don't really have a thing for blondes, normally. I will say, she's a fantastic and generous interview. I talked to her way back when The Ring came out. Very friendly. And then I saw her in New York after her baby daddy Leiv Schreiber played Macbeth in Shakespeare in the Park two years ago. Gorgeous, yeah, but about as big as a parking meter.

Saturday, July 12, 2008 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

Where does this dude get off making fun of Kenneth Branagh? Branagh is a fantastic Shakespearian actor/director. In fact when I caught wind of this King Lear film I was hoping he'd be in it. I was disappointed to find out he wasn't (yet). Now with the director taking a blatant shot at him I think I might pass on even seeing it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterT.J.

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