Denzel Talks Looking Beyond Race in New Macbeth Adaptation

n January 14, 2021, Joel Coen’s new film, “The Tragedy of Macbeth, was released on Apple TV+ after being screened in selected theaters since December 25, 2021. Although there have been many adaptations of the Shakespearean play, Coen’s film stars actor Denzel Washington as Macbeth.

Washington recently sat with NBC BLK and other media outlets to discuss his “post-racial” perspectives about the eradication of diversity and inclusion. Washington told NBC BLK, “Obviously we are diverse, so I think that’s a great thing.”

He goes on to say, “You know, in my humble opinion, we ought to be at a place where diversity shouldn’t even be mentioned, like it’s something special. These young kids—Black, white, blue, green or whatever—are highly talented and qualified. So that’s why they’re there.”

Diversity initiatives, for Washington, are problematic because they overshadow the process of casting and presume that Black folks and people of color are chosen because of racialization not because they are talented in their respective roles. While Washington’s focus is on working with esteemed actors, it is important to underscore how systemic and systematic racism work as concomitant forces that limits racialized peoples access to not only roles in theater, but in other industries as well.

If you are interested in a new take on a popular Shakespearean play, Joel Coen’s, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” might pique your interests. Coen retells the story of Macbeth, a forceful Scottish lord who conspires with his wife to seize power by murdering the king.

Another notable difference in Coen’s play is that the characters are older. Washington notes, “This was it. They’re tired. They’re older. They’re like, ‘Look, this is our shot, our due, give it to us. Drastic times make for drastic measures. And the clock is ticking.”

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