With Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth set to unleash all the insanity of the cursed “Scottish Play” on October 25, the director and stars Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) and Marion Cotillard (Lady MacBeth) have participated in a featurette revealing their angles for the characters and the filmmaking.
“The script is very cinematic, it definitely read like a Western,” says Kurzel — and sure, from the looks of his production, it could be a Western, if the West were 11th century Scotland. He explains how, even in the most film-adaptation-resistent, theatrical moments, he tried to ground the text. “Even with the soliloquies, I tried to make sure they were to someone else, or that they were like confessions, just to avoid the verse leading and dominating the film.”
Both Fassbender and Cotillard discuss the exhilarating but burdensome challenge of the endless possibilities for interpretation within Shakespeare’s texts. “Each day when I finished work, [it seemed] there were a thousand other ways to do that scene. It’s never ending. It’s kind of depressing,” jokes Fassbender.
And both express measured sympathy for their especially destructive characters, given that they’ve had so much time (the filming began in February 2014) to contemplate their dark trajectories. “They create a wall of power to protect themselves from fears instead of facing fears, and that will drive them to darkness,” says Cotillard.
Meanwhile, Fassbender has a diagnosis for Macbeth (which he’d also mentioned in the past): “Lady Macbeth sacrifices herself for her husband, and this idea that he’s suffering heavily from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was something that never occurred to me until Justin said it to me.”