LOS ANGELES — Record-setting filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke made headlines when she revealed that two "Twilight" stars had auditioned to step into the world of William Shakespeare for her next project. Now, the director and her lead actor are talking about the newest personality to be blended into the cast: Kurt Cobain?
"It's a modern-day film, set at a liberal-arts college where words matter — so people are careful and talk in beautiful language, and Hamlet tries to express himself through music," Hardwicke explained recently, saying that her soon-to-shoot "Hamlet" reinterpretation will continue the filmmaker's love affair with music (remember those "Lords of Dogtown" and "Twilight" soundtracks?) by combining the spirit of the legendary Nirvana frontman with the Bard. "So, we're using some of the cooler Shakespeare language, in a musical way. [My Hamlet] is like an [aspiring] rock star. He's got six people that go to his performances, go to clubs and listen to him. It's like an early Kurt Cobain."
The idea is that Hirsch's take on the character will blend a unique mix of music, sincerity and Shakespearean prose to re-envision the 400-year-old character not as a vengeful prince, but as a credibility-sensitive indie musician attending a school like Berklee.
"We're hoping to shoot in the fall, I think in Boston," said Hirsch, who previously starred in "Dogtown" for Hardwicke. "One of the movies that inspired us was Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet.' ... We want to lower the ages of everyone in the cast, make it much younger and see how that affects the story. Most of the 'Hamlet' [interpretations] onscreen are with much older casts, so we wanted to make everybody in college, set it at a college, make it really dark and gear it more towards young adults and young people and teenagers."
The "Twilight" director said Hirsch has been preparing to channel his inner Cobain. "He's a good singer," Hardwicke said of Hirsch, who has never sung in a film before. "He's also taking singing lessons and guitar lessons. We were in the studio a couple weeks ago, and he was rocking it."
Hirsch's Hamlet will make his mark with mostly original tunes, written for the film by a veteran of the punk and indie-rock scene. "There's going to be a lot of original music," Hardwicke revealed. "We have Brian Reitzell, the music supervisor who did 'The Virgin Suicides' and all of Sofia [Coppola]'s movies and other cool things, like 'Friday Night Lights.' He's collaborating with bands. He used to be in Redd Kross; he was the drummer. So he's working on getting a whole cool palette together — a sonic experience."
"I just love the poetry of Shakespeare," Hirsch said of the reason he's excited about the film, which will also contain 'The Shining'-like elements. "It's exciting that we're able to have this modern version but keep the text. And the way we're going to do it, we're going to make it so that everyone can understand what the most brilliant poet of all time is saying."
Check out everything we've got on "Hamlet."
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