Something Wicked This Way Comes — Macbeth's Ethan Hawke and Jack O'Brien Talk Motivation and Myth

By Carey Purcell
21 Dec 2013

Anne-Marie Duff and Ethan Hawke
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

O'Brien described the play as being "steeped in paranoia," saying, "The evil that exists in the world, which could be a witch, or could just be a virus, takes advantage of that, and that's exactly what's happened. It has a lot of responsibility to pay, insofar as you're discovering things all the time about people that you really don't want to see." One aspect of Macbeth that O'Brien does want the audience to see is the relationship between Lord and Lady Macbeth, which he is careful to present as a loving marriage — at first.

"I want to make sure we don't start with a myth," he said. "But we start with a real flesh and blood approach to the play that is straightforward and honest, that reveals its evil but doesn't tread on it."

The relationship between the husband and wife humanizes the story, according to Hawke, who said, "I think if you could make this story human — that's our challenge. It already is epic and operatic and full of larger metaphors. But for it to be a great evening at the theatre, it also needs to be human. That job is the main focus of the ensemble and Jack's work.

"[Macbeth is] as rich as a T.S. Eliot poem, and it's one that has to be played," Hawke added. "And so how do we both maintain a level of respect and the integrity of the language and have the playfulness that it needs to make it a show? It wants to be a show. You can go to the library any day of the week and study this stuff. We don't want to study it, we want to light it on fire for you."

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Malcolm Gets, John Glover, Ethan Hawke and Byron Jennings
Photo by T. Charles Erickson