It’s not every day we get treated to a completely wonderful casting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Today is one of those days. Paul Giamatti has just been anointed as Elsinore’s heir for a run at the Yale Reperatory Theater in 2013. Giamatti, the flabby-faced character actor, has always excelled at taking fringe characters and somehow exalting them to the status of leads, so we can’t help but wonder what he’ll do with the character of Hamlet, perhaps the showiest role from a playwright who mastered them.
Too often with Shakespeare adaptations have we been subjected to Olivier-protoypes who believe in a kind of Hamlet absolutism, as if mourning, whining, and wearing black were enough. Michael Stuhlbarg‘s 2008 interpretation is the most surprising in recent memory, and Jude Law’s production in 2009 involved little more than a change in wardrobe (pajamas, to be exact). So what new element will Giamatti inject into a character who’s been played more times than any other? Will he downplay it? Mumble through it? The mind boggles.