Daniel Craig transfers from James Bond to Shakespeare.
The 53-year-old actor, who has said his tenure as Bond will end with the release of “No Time to Die” on October 8, plans to return to Broadway next spring to play the title role. of “Macbeth”.
Famous for his film career, especially as a libertine spy, Craig is also an accomplished theater actor.
He has appeared in two previous Broadway plays, the 2009 production of “A Steady Rain” and a 2013 cover of “Betrayal”. And he played villainous Iago in an Off Broadway production of Shakespeare’s “Othello” in 2016 at the New York Theater Workshop, opposite David Oyelowo in the title role. (“Gritty Brilliance,” New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote of Craig’s performance.)
In the production “Macbeth”, Ruth Negga will play his wife, Lady Macbeth. Negga, known for the TV show “Preacher” and the movie “Loving”, last year played the title role in “Hamlet” (yes, a woman played Hamlet; Negga had also previously played Ophelia) in a Off Broadway production at St. Anne’s Warehouse.
The main producer of the Broadway production will be Barbara Broccoli, who has a long collaboration with Craig: she and her brother produce the Bond films, and they also co-produced “A Steady Rain” and supported the non-profit production “Othello” .
Broccoli said she had been speaking with Craig about Macbeth for several years, since he expressed interest in playing the role.
“I’m glad this is coming after Bond, because obviously after 16 years of working with this man, the idea of this all coming to an end has been really hard to come to terms with,” she said. “And so it’s really heartwarming to me that we’re going to be working on something else so soon after her James Bond cycle ends.”
Broccoli said she and Craig also believe it is important to direct the play this season, as Broadway seeks to recover from a long shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a horrible 18 months for everyone, and the live theater has been damaged tremendously,” she said. “He really wants to come back and be on stage and encourage people to come back to Broadway – that’s important to all of us culturally and socially.”
“Macbeth” is scheduled to run for 15 weeks, starting March 29 and opening April 28 at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway. The production will be directed by Sam Gold, who also directed the Off Broadway “Othello” in which Craig appeared, and who in 2019 performed a Broadway cover of “King Lear”. The production will feature original music by Gaelynn Lea.
There have been 47 previous Broadway productions of “Macbeth,” according to the Internet Broadway Database; the most recent dates back to 2013, with Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff.
Broccoli is also the lead producer of “Sing Street,” a musical that was slated to start performing on Broadway in March 2020, but never did because of the pandemic. She said she still plans to bring the show to Broadway, but wasn’t ready to say when. “We love the show,” she said, “and we’re trying to figure out how best to bring it back.”