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When it comes to cinematic Shakespeare adaptations, it’s always nice whenever someone decides to go outside the box and avoid making the same four films we’ve seen a thousand times. Luckily, the next feature we’re looking forward to is the romance/tragedy/comedy Cymbeline, which Deadline reports has added Ed Harris to its cast, continuing one of busiest streaks in Harris’ career.
For Cymbeline, Harris will be joining Ethan Hawke, who was the first cast member added when he came aboard last week. Hawke is reteaming with writer/director Michael Almereyda (New Orleans, Mon Amour) and Keep Your Head Productions’ Anthony Katagas on the project, both of whom he previously worked with on 2000’s Hamlet adaptation. This is the first feature that Harris and Hawke have made together, however.
Harris is set to take on the title role of King Cymbeline himself, although this won’t be the strictest take on the source material. It’s described as Sons of Anarchy meets Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, though probably without appealing to the MTV generation. It’s set in modern-day America, and will follow a group of corrupt cops who take on a drug dealing biker gang. The original play involved jilted lovers, an evil queen, mistaken identities and, of course, death. Considering S.O.A. is already a loose adaptation of Hamlet, you’d think everyone involved with this project would be working harder to avoid that comparison.
If we’re talking about working hard, we’re talking Ed Harris in 2013. He starred in Michael Bay’s bodybuilding kidnapper caper Pain and Gain, Todd Robinson’s Soviet submarine thriller Phantom and Logan Miller’s Sundance western Sweet Vengeance. And that’s just what already came out. Later this year we’ll also see him in Joon-ho Bong’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer and Arie Posin’s romantic drama The Face of Love. Next year will see him in the illegal alien drama Frontera.
If you’d prefer to get your Shakespeare on before Cymbeline comes out, it’s a good year for those, too. Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing released a couple of months ago, Carlo Carlei’s Romeo and Juliet will have a limited theater run next month, and Justin Kurzel is planning on adapting Macbeth with Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender (not to mention Warm Bodies, which was basically Romeo and Juliet with the undead).
Filming on Cymbeline is set to begin in New York City on August 19th, with a 2014 release date planned. If you have a few hours to check out the only other major and recent adaptation of the material, check out Elija Moshinsky’s 1982 British miniseries below, which is available on YouTube for some reason.