Corey Hawkins interview: ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’
“He’s a bit of the moral compass of this play,” declares Corey Hawkins about the character of Macduff in the new film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Hawkins co-stars as Macduff in this new film version, adapted and directed by Oscar-winner Joel Coen, and starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as the devious title couple. The Tony-nominated actor starred in another film adaptation of a very different stage show, playing Benny in the big screen version of the Tony-winning musical “In the Heights.” Check out our exclusive video interview with Hawkins above.
The character of Macduff doesn’t become central to the plot until late in the film, when the character discovers that Macbeth has slaughtered Macduff’s entire family. Hawkins says that he felt his job was to follow let the play lead him to where he needed to go emotionally. “It was just about using the roadmap of this incredible play, this incredible adaptation that Joel put together, and just trusting that the journey will get me where it needs me to get to,” he explains.
That journey ultimately led Hawkins to the film’s climactic battle facing off against Washington’s Macbeth. Hawkins describes the collaborative relationship with both Washington and Coen, particularly in staging that final fight sequence. “We beat through [the fight] just like your would beat through a scene,” he says, “And it was great walking through that with Denzel Washington, hoping that I didn’t accidentally hit him with the sword.”
Hawkins believes that the play’s popularity is a result of what it shows about human nature. “It just shows who we are,” he argues. “That’s the beauty of Shakespeare; it can hold so much.” The actor also sees similarities between Shakespeare’s words and hip-hop in that both deal with similar themes and can be misunderstood by some segments of the population. “[Shakespeare] was literally a poet of the streets,” he says. “I equate him in the same way that certain people don’t understand hip hop. Certain people just don’t get it. It doesn’t negate the validity of it. There’s a musicality to it that certain people understand and get. But at the end of the day, both forms conjure up the same images — murder, politics, poverty, ambition — it’s all the same themes.”