Benedict Cumberbatch to play Hamlet


According to a report in the Guardian, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch will take on the role of another classic literary character next year -- Hamlet.

The English actor will play the leading role in one of Shakespeare's most popular plays in a 12 week-run during the summer of 2015 at the Barbican theatre in London.

Producer Sonia Friedman described Cumberbatch, who has recently broken into Hollywood with major roles in Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Fifth Estate, as "one of the most gifted actors of his generation."

Hamlet has long been seen as a challenging but prestigious role for actors, as he delivers some of the Bard's most memorable soliloquies. Cumberbatch will join a long list of actors that have tackled the character. We take a look at some of the performers that have played the prince of Denmark over the years, as well as some quotes from the play.

"O How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world."
- Hamlet

David Tennant: 2008-09

The Scottish actor, most famous for playing the tenth incarnation of Dr. Who, was critically acclaimed for his onstage performance as Hamlet. The BBC made a well-received TV adaptation of the stage production.

David Tennant as the prince of Denmark in the BBC's adaptation of the stage production. (BBC)

"I'll speak to it though Hell itself should gape
And bid me hold my peace."
- Hamlet

Keanu Reeves 1995

In 1995, after his successful roles in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, My own Private Idaho and Speed, Keanu Reeves briefly left Hollywood for Winnipeg (the Hollywood of Manitoba). In Winnipeg, he joined the Manitoba Theatre Centre's production of Hamlet, where he played to sold out shows every night.

Keanu-Reeves-Hamlet-584.jpg (Andrew Akman (Laertes), Louisa Martin (Gertrude - background) and Keanu Reeves (Hamlet) in the Manitoba Theatre Centre production of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Photo by Bruce Monk)

"Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life at a pin's fee,
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?"
- Hamlet

Mel Gibson 1990

Mel Gibson is known for taking daring and dramatic roles so his move to play Hamlet doesn't come as much of a surprise. Mel Gibson played the Prince of Denmark in Franco Zeffirelli 's 1990 feature film production alongside Glenn Close. Watch Gibson give it his all in this later scene from Hamlet.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
- Hamlet

Ethan Hawke 2000

Ten years after Gibson, Ethan Hawke took a stab at playing Hamlet on screen in the 2000 production of the play. The movie written and directed by Michael Almereyda places Hamlet in the 21st century. Hawke's Hamlet is a New York City film student and Claudius is CEO of the Denmark corporation. The movie is peppered with modern surveillance and lots of video footage and there's even a fax machine!

Watch Ethan Hawke deliver the famous to be or not to be speech in a video rental store, while wearing a goofy hat.

"Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none."
- Hamlet

Jude Law 2009

Jude Law's 2009 stage performance as Hamlet, directed by Michael Grandage, brought in a younger and hipper audience to London's west end theatre scene. The audience didn't know quite what to expect from Law and according to theatre critic Michael Billington from The Guardian wrote "People who come to patronise him as a movie star essaying the great Dane will be in for a shock. He is a far from inexperienced classical actor..."


(AP Photo/Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Johan Persson)

"Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do 't: and so he goes to heaven;
And so am I reveng'd."
- Hamlet

French actress Sarah Bernhardt 1900

Bernhardt_Hamlet2.jpgThe earliest film adaptation of Hamlet was actually in France and Hamlet was played by French actress Sarah Bernhardt. The film, directed by Clément Maurice was made in 1900. It was a short film based on an excerpt. Unfortunately the film can't be found on Youtube.