Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand Macbeth

Ready for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth to Destroy Me

Just don't say his name in a theatre, please.
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The energy of Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is going to sustain me for the rest of my life, I think. There are very few things I love in this world as much as I love Denzel Washington doing Shakespeare. I’m thinking first of his portrayal of Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, but now I get to see Washington tackle one of my favorite Shakespeare plays: Macbeth.

The tragedy follows the Scottish king and his demise when he takes a prophecy to heart and finds every way to fight back at it. What I love about the character of Macbeth is that he’s the perfect counterpart to his girl boss wife (Lady Macbeth, in this case), who asks him to do something and he does it, no questions asked, and that’s basically the plot of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth uses her strong but brainless husband to her advantage, and I love them and their messed up romance so much.

Now, tie that into Joel Coen’s style and casting his wife as Lady Macbeth opposite one of our greatest living actors as Macbeth? This movie is sure to destroy me emotionally and mentally, and I can’t wait. What I particularly love about this trailer is that it gives me what I want from every production of Macbeth: IT’S SPOOKY!

Macbeth, at its core, is about a man who leans into the world of the unknown, and it destroys him. Lost in his lust for power, Macbeth takes the warning of witches and decides to take matters into his own hands to fight against a prophecy. I guess I don’t want to spoil what happens in Macbeth, but basically, Lady Macbeth gets her husband to carry out her plan and their love is fierce and weird, and I’m obsessed with it. But the play has WITCHES. So whenever there’s a production or movie or adaptation of any kind that doesn’t lean into the spookiness of this show, I just want to know why.

Thankfully, it looks like Coen understands that and is bringing me the spooky dark Macbeth I’ve longed for. I like Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth very much, but it is just … boring, despite having my favorite trope in modern adaptations of Shakespeare, where two characters are having important dialogue while doing something sexual! It rules! I hope Joel Coen continues that!

Pair all this with the fact that, apparently, McDormand thought that Lady Macbeth and Macbeth (in this adaptation) had the backstory of Romeo and Juliet? I’m sold.

“I’m 62 and Denzel is 65, so we’re not trying to be anything than what we already are. During rehearsal, Denzel posed the question: “Where had the Macbeths met?” My instinct was perhaps we could use the play that Shakespeare wrote of Romeo & Juliet, that we met when we were 15. They were against us marrying, but we married anyway, and if we hadn’t committed suicide we would have ended up as the Macbeths fifty years later.”

The Tragedy of Macbeth cannot come soon enough!

(image: A24)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.