Noomi Rapace Will Play A Female Hamlet In A "Bloody" Scandinavian Adaptation - Comic Years
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Noomi Rapace Will Play A Female Hamlet In A “Bloody” Scandinavian Adaptation

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BY January 8, 2021

We really don’t talk enough about how much of Shakespeare’s work is actually genre. For example, take Hamlet which has both witches and ghosts featuring centrally to the plot of the story. Of course, Shakespeare took the story of Hamlet from Scandinavian mythology, which is often rife with the supernatural. And now a new adaptation of the story is in the works. One that promises to be faithful to the original story that inspired the Bard. Actress Noomi Rapace has been cast in the central role of Hamlet, continuing a long tradition of gender-swapping Shakespearean roles. Let’s dig into the news and see what we know about this upcoming Hamlet adaptation.

Hamlet Adaptation Image via Wikimedia Commons

An Insane And Bloody Adaptation

The Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi will direct the upcoming Hamlet film. The screenplay is being written by Icelandic poet (and longtime Björk collaborator) Sjón, who is also a writer on the upcoming Robert Eggers’ film The Northman.

Director Ali Abbasi made an intense statement about the film: “Shakespeare stole the Hamlet story from us. Now it’s our turn to claim it back and make a version so insane and so bloody that it makes him turn in his grave.”

Shakespeare Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout via Wikimedia Commons

Hamlet is indeed a Danish story, something that is apparent in the full title of Shakespeare’s play: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Bard was originally inspired by the saga of Amleth, a legendary figure in Scandinavian folklore. And somehow the original story is much bloodier than Shakespeare’s version. It appears that Abbasi will draw from the older Scandinavian story, while still incorporating elements of Shakespeare’s play including the more familiar names and characters.

Gender-Swapping Hamlet Is An Old Tradition

Noomi Rapace Actress Noomi Rapace at the premiere of Bright | Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson via Wikimedia Commons

Actress Noomi Rapace also spoke about the new adaptation of Hamlet in a statement. “Hamlet is a dream project in its purest and most explosive way. I’ve been hoping, dreaming, wishing for this as long as I’ve been an actress. I base this as much on the material as on the creative alliance that surrounds it. Ali, Sjón and Meta are for me creatives on the highest level. They’re truly brave and groundbreaking in their different areas and always on top of their game. To take on a Danish story with a Scandinavian touch and bring it out into the world with this group of people is a dream.”

Sarah Bernhardt Hamlet Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet | Image via Library of Congress

Rapace joins a long line of women who have played a gender-swapped version of the role. This goes all the way back to Sarah Bernhardt, the first actress to portray Hamlet on-stage in 1899. The first woman to portray the role on-screen was Danish actress Asta Nielsen in 1920 in a silent film. Noomi Rapace is the first woman to play the role in a film adaptation that features both sound and color.

Principal production for Ali Abbasi’s adaptation of Hamlet is due to begin in Autumn 2021. What do you think about the promise of a more insane version of Hamlet? What are your favorite ‘genre’ Shakespeare plays? Join the conversation with Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today to share your thoughts.

(Featured image by Eric Broms via Wikimedia Commons)


Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

Adaptation NewsAdaptationsHamletMythologyNoomi RapaceShakespeareSjón

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