Riz Ahmed is finally getting his moment as Hamlet after five years of waiting, and the actor said his version will be nothing like audiences have seen before.
“Our Hamlet is an outsider in a wealthy British Indian family, who starts to question his relatives’ morality and his own sanity after encountering his father’s ghost,” Ahmed and director Aneil Karia said in a statement.
The film, first announced in 2017, centers on modern-day London, and the story will traverse Hindu temples, British high society and the city’s underground. Ahmed said his Hamlet will openly struggle with mental health issues and grapple with systemic corruption in the wake of his father’s murder.
Nods to Indian culture and family life will be present throughout, their statement said.
“We’ve both felt on the outside of Shakespeare, but as South Asians also deeply connect to what these stories are about—themes like family, honor, and duty,” they said. “So, our aim is to bring Hamlet to life by setting it in our own community.”
This is the second project Ahmed and Karia have worked on together. Earlier this year, the pair won the Academy Award for best live action short film for “The Long Goodbye,” which is about a British Muslim immigrant family targeted by white supremacists.
“We want to continue what we started with The Long Goodbye, in telling a story that is both totally grounded and authentic but then pushes into action, thriller, genre, and poetry,” they said of “Hamlet.”
“Hamlet” was originally set to debut on Netflix, but it will instead launch at the Cannes Film Market. Morfydd Clark and Joe Alwyn will star alongside Ahmed as Ophelia and Laertes, respectively.
“This is a Hamlet about race, mental health and inequality, which asks if setting things right means setting fire to the old order,” the statement said. “We want to crack this timeless story open for a wider audience.”