Denzel Washington He looks relaxed on the other side of the computer. He is sitting in the living room of a hotel in Los Angeles and talks with journalists from different parts of the world about Macbeth the character created by William Shakespeare and who plays masterfully in The Tragedy of Macbeth, a film by Apple TV + that this Friday will be released on its platform.
The film, shot in black and white, includes in its credits a veritable constellation of stars, from Joel Coen in the direction and his wife, Frances McDormand, in the role of Lady Macbeth.
“Joel, Frances and William Shakespeare are the reasons enough that I needed to accept the role. Coen is a great director and leader, he’s also a brilliant actor, so when he proposed it to me, I didn’t even think about it. “ Washington tells of why he took on the challenge.
The Macbeth he plays is dark, imposing and unique, a job that at 67 years old has allowed him to be nominated in the shortlist for best actor at the Golden Globes and the SAGs, and loudly called out to repeat the equation at the Oscars.
Washington’s relationship with Shakespeare is not new. It dates from his time as a performing arts student. In addition, throughout his career he has had the opportunity to play various characters of the famous English author. But not Macbeth. This is your first time. “It was not on purpose. I hadn’t actually read it before and it had happened to me that I hadn’t seen it either. I have read and seen many Shakespearean plays, but not Macbeth. In college I had the opportunity to play Bachelor and, without understanding Shakespeare very well, my character worked out well for me. It was great to start that way, it was interesting, that journey 40 years ago, that moment and now, ”says the two-time Oscar winner for Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001).
In The Tragedy of Macbeth, his character, a Scottish lord, is convinced by witches that he will become the future King of Scotland. From there, he begins a Machiavellian plan to seize power from the hand of his ambitious wife (Frances McDormand).
In addition to the protagonists, a varied cast participates in the film, including actors such as Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson and Corey Hawkins, the last of those mentioned, an emerging 33-year-old black actor (‘The Walking Dead ‘and ’24: Legacy’) who plays McDuff the man who kills Macbeth.
In this regard, Denzel Washington admits that the brilliance of Afro-descendant actors in the film and television industry is a fact that must be highlighted. “Obviously I was in a different position, but I don’t know how important that factor is now. Due to streaming there is a lot of work that is circulating, in which we are now with a cast where they do not look at the color. We are much more into it. I see now many more opportunities for everyone ”.
As a reference for acting, he feels that he must share what he has learned with new generations, just as his friend, actor Sidney Poitier, who died a few days ago at 94 years of age, did with him. “Sidney was first and foremost a friend, we talked about everything, not just acting, but life. His door was always open for me and that was a unique and different relationship than my relationship with the younger generations. But, anyway, I feel that there is a type, I do not want to say responsibility, but a desire to share what I know, share my experience for anyone who asks.
“The movie moves fast, Joel cut it to the bone, I don’t feel like I’m losing anything, it hits you and it moves on. There is an immediacy, an impact that will resonate with you today, ”says Washington.
He says that for the construction of Macbeth he had total freedom from the first day of filming. “With Joel Coen we handled it very well, he let me do things alone. It may sound cliché, but he felt he had the right person. I don’t recall a lot of notes and I think that’s a testament to his soft touch from work. He is one of those who lets things flow to take chances ”.
Joel Coen’s version of The Macbeth Tragedy is absolutely theatrical. It takes place between shadows and with a minimalist scenography that the actor stands out and is grateful for, as it helped him shape and show off his particular Macbeth. “It was really cool to shoot the movie in those settings. Designers created this world. It was good to hear Joel speak and say, I don’t want real furniture. It was very naked, because in the end it is the actor’s work that reveals who these people are, there is no place to hide and I think that was a great idea, “he says, marking the distance between work done in film and theater. “I think that’s the main thing in terms of performance, being able to do it over and over again in the cinema. In a play you do it too, although the next day. But in the cinema it is: ‘Oh, I know what you want’ and you see it again in situ. That, in a way, is always going to be an advantage of making a movie. “
Asked if he was ever seduced by greed like Macbeth, the actor smiles and responds: “Sure, surely, at some point I said: No, no, me, but I would never admit it (laughs). We are human you know Especially in America we are trained to win, you want to be number one in whatever it is, so somehow we build on disappointment ”.
In his personal life, Denzel Washington does not believe in witches and, rather, considers himself a spiritual man rather than a religious man. “I like to use the word spirituality because religion comes from a human who receives a lot of spirituality. When that turns into religion, it’s like ‘my religion is correct. You’re wrong, I’m fine. ‘ I try not to push things to those limits. In the play Macbeth goes so far as to sell his soul, his inner jewel to the devil to be king. The question I ask myself is why did the witch come into his life that day?
The two-time Oscar winner says director Joel Coen and his co-star Frances McDormand were “enough reasons I needed to take the role.” Photo: broadcast