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Macbeth is about the corruptive force of power.

Stars are also considered

to be powerful do you sometimes feel corrupted by fame?

Fame brings with it a certain standard of living that can be very tempting,
and you can get used to it all too quickly. But I dont see myself falling
into that trap. I like the things in my life to be as simple as possible. In
this line of work, its not a wise move to make money your sole
motivation. Great masters, like Akira Kurosawa

and Roman Polanski, have filmed the play before. Did you draw on their
work? Yes, I watched everything on the subject that I could lay my hands
on. Kurosawas version was grandiose, in my opinion. Its my favorite
movie adaptation.

Whats the best way for an actor to approach Shakespeare?

You have to respect the language and rhythm of Shakespeare, but not be
awe- struck by it. I spent four weeks practicing on my own and knew my
lines pretty well by the time general rehearsals began. For me, dialogues
are like music; you basically have to get the rhythm right. What makes
this play a classic?

On the first day of shooting, the director, Justin Kurzel, handed me a self-
help book on post-traumatic experiences. At first,

E N I was surprised because I had never associated the subject with Mac-
beth. But its obvious really: Thats exactly what Macbeth is about. All
that time ago, Shakespeare understood the anguish soldiers suffer. After
World War One, no one could fathom the traumatized veterans, but
Shakespeare had already described their behavior in Macbeth in the
banquet sequence, when Lady Mac- beth says: Sit, worthy friends: my
lord is often thus, And hath been from his youth. So we know the
damage anger, revenge and violence can cause. During his very first
scene, we see how vulnerable Macbeth already is. Committing the
murders is how he finds his way. Killing becomes a rigid pattern of
behavior for him.

How do you feel about Macbeth?

I get Macbeth. He is the person keeping the borders safe. He is fighting

the war for Duncan, who holds the throne, but in many ways Macbeth is
the rightful king. That doesnt justify murder, of course and Macbeth kills
every day. But he sacrifices himself and that is why I do understand him.
There are a lot of Duncans in this world.
How do you see Lady Macbeth?

The classic view of Lady Macbeth is of a woman driven by ambition.

The opposite is true. She sacrifices herself to save her marriage. She and
her husband have lost a child but cannot share in their mourning because
Macbeth is constantly on the move, busy consolidating his power.
Ultimately, its all about loss and how people cope with it.

Shooting in the middle of a British winter cant exactly have been a

picnic ...
It was cold, wet, and yes, well, very inten- sive! (Laughs) Raging winds,
hail, snow, the works we were constantly hoping it would at least all
look good on screen! The extras, in particular, were phenome- nal. They
would stand in the rain for ten hours at a stretch one day, and turn up the
next without turning a hair.

Is bad weather good for acting?

It lets you know exactly how it must have been for those people. They
were con- stantly wet and half-frozen, and their homes were pretty basic.
Sleeping in a wet blanket is anything but pleasant.
We get to see your naked torso again ... Yes, its written into my contracts.
I love getting naked. (Laughs) Getting into a role is always a physical
thing for me. I am not so much an intellectual or analytical actor, Im
more the physical type.
So you go in for intensive workouts? Depending on my mood, I
sometimes exercise a lot, other times not at all. Exercise is more a mental
than a physical aid for me. I want to maintain a certain level of fitness
obviously, but Im not crazy about exercise machines or weights, I prefer
to use my own body weight.

What is an actors most important asset?

The ability to be relaxed, otherwise you wont really take in whats going
on around you. Plus, its the only way to be a good listener, which an
actor needs to be.