Denzel Washington on “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the legacy of Sidney Poitier

Denzel Washington has been playing Shakespearean roles since he was 20. The latest is Lord Macbeth in Joel Coen’s new Apple TV+ film The Tragedy of Macbeth.

Ahead of its release this Friday, the CBC reports the 67-year-old actor sat down with Q host Tom Power to talk about working with Coen and Frances McDormand (who stars as Lady Macbeth), as well as the recent death of his friend and fellow actor Sidney Poitier.

Washington has said part of the reason he took the role was to work with McDormand and Coen, who are married.

“[Coen] is a genius. [McDormand] is another genius. Two sides of the same coin, you know? He’s putting it together and she delivers,” he said.

“It’s just her energy coming into the room. She’s just a unique individual, first of all, and powerful and strong and talented. So that energy coming into the room lifts your game up immediately. Like ‘Oh, this is Frances McDormand. Like OK — right, here we go.’ You know? It’s fun. It’s exciting.”

The highly stylized rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth had been in the works for a few years. The team started filming in 2020, based on a script adapted by Coen. It was shot in black and white with a very austere, almost stage-like feeling on screen.

“Shakespeare is Shakespeare. We [actors] have to step up. The standard has already been established, you know, ‘Can you handle it?’ is the question,” Washington said.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date