This New 'King Lear' BBC Adaptation Has an All-Star Cast
Get excited: Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are teaming up again decades after they starred together in 1992's Howards End and 1993's The Remains of the Day. Those were both Merchant Ivory-helmed film adaptations of lauded novels—E.M. Forster's Howards End and Kazuo Ishiguro's Booker Prize-winning 1989 novel The Remains of the Day, respectively. This new project is a BBC- and Amazon Studios-produced adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, and it looks stunning.
Have you ever seen a cast so starry? It's a lineup of true film heavyweights, all of whom can hold their own on the stage too: King Lear features Hopkins (Legends of the Fall, The Silence of the Lambs) as the titular king and Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually) as his eldest daughter, Goneril. Emily Watson (Gosford Park, The Party) is Lear's middle daughter, Regan, and Florence Pugh (The Falling, Lady Macbeth) is Lear's youngest, Cordelia. Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!, The Sense of an Ending) appears as the Duke of Gloucester, and Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Spectre) and John Macmillan (Maleficent, Hanna) are Edgar and Edmund, the Duke's sons.
Watch the trailer:
King Lear is adapted and directed by Richard Eyre, an English stage and film director known for his impressive resume in the world of opera, as well as his direction of films and television shows including 2003's Notes on a Scandal and this year's The Children's Act, which also stars Emma Thompson and is an adaptation of the eponymous Ian McEwan novel.
This King Lear updates the play's setting to a fictionalized contemporary London replete with helicopters and Range Rovers, where the king reigns over a military state. Lear brings his daughters together to announce that he plans to divide his kingdom in three, and a contest of flattery ensues. If you've read the play, you know what happens next, and it's certainly not happily ever after. For the full story, you'll need to pick up the play, which you can find at Amazon and Indiebound, because while this film is packed with talent, it clocks in at just 115 minutes—astonishingly concise for the Bard.
King Lear premiered in the UK on BBC Two in May 2018, and you can tune in when it arrives on Amazon Prime Video in late September. (Keep your eyes peeled: Rumor has it Lear will land on the platform on the 28th!)
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What's your latest BBC must-watch? Leave a comment if you plan to tune into King Lear when it's released on Amazon Prime this month.