Look. It’s not easy to establish a notable career in any field, let alone in one where literally everything you do will be pored over, examined and analyzed within an inch of its life. It’s hard. Just today, you might have even gotten some discouragement about doing your dream project, Hamlet. You know what? Keep doing Hamlet.
It can be difficult if not nigh-impossible to bring something unique to the role after so many variations on the theme. Should you let that stop you? Hell no!
It is the brass ring, the gold standard, the tour de force. Everyone wants to play Hamlet. Not only play him but to make him amazing. (The best Hamlet I’ve seen in recent memory was played by Caitlin Carbone in Cohesion Theatre’s production last year.)
The logic that ‘it’s already been done a lot’ is one of the worst excuses I’ve ever heard to give up on something. If we followed the logic of ‘It’s been done before’, we wouldn’t have Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Or Kurt Russell in The Thing. Or any Doctors after William Hartnell.
It may come as a surprise that the most famous version of The Wizard of Oz was Hollywood’s second attempt to bring the story to the silver screen before magic was made. God forbid someone tries to do something new and different with a popular work of fiction.
People had trepidations about Tom Holland tackling the role of Spider-Man: “Oh no, not again. Please. We’ve had two actors play him in the last twenty years already and it’s so played out.” Spider-Man Homecoming was easily the best Spidey film of the lot, and much of the credit goes to Holland’s portrayal.
So you want to go play Hamlet? You go right ahead. It can’t possibly be worse than Ethan Hawke’s version. That was dreadful.
I quite liked David Tennant in the role. I thought Kevin Kline was mercurial and a bit too into his mom. Branagh’s Hamlet was a frickin’ masterpiece, but we all saw that one coming.
It can be hard to stand in the shadow of great performers and say “I want to play that role too.” That a thing is hard is not a reason not to do it. If anything, it should be a reason to go after it with everything you have. Will it work every time? No. But actors act. Directors direct. And as they acquire the power to do projects they want to do... yes. Some of them will want to do Hamlet. And that’s fine.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to go see Hamlet, don’t go see it! Outside of English class, who’s going to make you? You could always check out Paul Rudnick’s I Hate Hamlet instead. Or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Or hell! Hamlet II! That might be just the thing to cheer you up.