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Paul Mescal to Play Shakespeare in Chlóe Zhao’s ‘Hamnet’

©Amazon, Foe, Paul Mescal 

Irish-born actor Paul Mescal will play the role of William Shakespeare in Chlóe Zhao’s upcoming film adaptation of Hamnet, the 2020 novel by Maggie O’Farrell.

The yet-unnamed film will also star Jessie Buckley in the role of Agnes Shakespeare (aka Ann Hathaway), the wife of the celebrated dramatist. Buckley is noted for her portrayal of Oraetta Mayflower in the Fargo TV series.

The 27-year-old Mescal was quoted in British Vogue as saying: “That book – it’s just devastating. I can’t wait. If I told a younger version of myself that this would be [shooting] this year, I wouldn’t believe it. I’ve obviously been in a film with Jessie before but we’ve never shared the screen or a working process together. I think she’s one of our present-day greats. And Chloé is somebody I can’t wait to get in the weeds with, and get into the heads of those characters.”

Buckley and Mescal had earlier starred together in The Lost Daughter, a 2023 film directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Zhao, who wrote the screenplay for Hamnet together with O’Farrell, also directed The Rider, Nomadland, and Eternals.

According to a synopsis for O’Farrell’s novel, William Shakespeare is described as “a young Latin tutor—penniless and bullied by a violent father—[who] falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is just taking off when his beloved young son [Hamnet] succumbs to sudden fever.”

Mescal is presently involved in the promotion of two films in which he recently appeared: All of Us Strangers and Gladiator 2.

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Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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