Benedict Cumberbatch will play Hamlet - though can he outdo Simon Russell Beale, David Tennant and Mark Rylance?
Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play Hamlet on the London stage next year, in what could become the making of the quintessentially British actor. The 37-year-old will star in William Shakespeare's classic tragedy at the Barbican Theatre from August to October 2015.
Benedict Cumberbatch Will Play Hamlet On-Stage
Lyndsey Turner will direct the play for Sonia Friedman Productions. Friedman herself said she was "thrilled" to be producing the show, describing its star as "one of the most gifted and exciting actors of his generation."
Cumberbatch is certainly on the top rung of British acting talent and he was last seen on stage in the National Theatre's 2011 production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle, in which he shared roles if Frankenstein and his Monster with the equally talented Jonny Lee Miller.
"It's a role I've been interested in for a long time," Cumberbatch told the Daily Telegraph of potentially playing Hamlet in 2012, "I don't know if there is such a thing as a right age to play the part, but 36 or 37 seems appropriate to me."
Cumberbatch has some competition in terms on great Hamlet performances. In 2000, Simon Russell Beale - often considered one of Britain's greatest actors - put in a superb performance in a cathedral-like production, soon after the death of his own mother.
Mark Rylance's 1989 performance, fully encapsulated Hamlet's madness, famously spitting in Ophelia's face. According to the Guardian, during a performance in Broadmoor, an inmate approached Rylance after the show: "You were really mad - take it from me, I should know. I'm a loony," he said.
Another performance of Hamlet that comes to mind is David Tennant's, for the RSC in 2008. The graceful yet volatile turn cemented Tennant as one of the country's great actors.
Booking details for Lyndsey Turner's Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, will be announced in May. It will run for 12 weeks.