If you’ve seen the Public Theater’s most recent staging of Hamlet—now playing Off-Broadway with direction by Tony winner Sam Gold—then you already know that for a tragedy, it’s a show filled with a lot of laughs. Many of those come from the comedic skills of actor Keegan-Michael Key, who plays Horatio, and who, after a successful career in sketch comedy, has made the move to dramatic acting.
“We [with director Gold] wanted to infuse humor into the DNA of this production,” Key told the hosts of CBS This Morning. “In [Gold’s] opinion, the best versions of Hamlet he’s ever seen have been the ones with the most humor.”
Key also explained that the director and the cast focused on making Shakespeare’s language accessible to today’s audience, so that Hamlet felt more like a 21st century piece. “It doesn’t feel remote or 400 years old,” said the actor.
While he’s enjoyed playing Horatio—“Horatio is like the greatest qualities in a dog: he’s loyal, friendly, helpful, and dedicated. In my real life I strive to be like Horatio”—Key also said that he now felt prepared to take on the title role.
As Key told Playbill, while he isn’t giving up comedy, he is ready to take on more dramatic roles, his original intention.
Watch the CBS interview:
Flip through photos of the Public Theater’s Hamlet: