Shakespearean Idol Soliloquy-Off

by Julia Smith

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful surprise of stumbling upon a new version of Hamlet, broadcast by PBS Great Performances.

It gave me the idea for today's Shakespeare Idol.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the most amazing delivery of - To be or not to be - of them all?

First up:

Mel Gibson

Our second contestant:

Kenneth Branagh

Next, let's welcome:

Laurence Olivier

And for our final contestant, let's bring out:

David Tennant

And so, dear readers - who is the most amazing Hamlet? What say you?


  1. Julia - love this post! Tough choices - but I think for me it's a tie between David Tennant and Olivier. Tennant because he has a tortured/mad take that has suits our modern sensibility and Olivier because he has that pitch perfect classic film performance. ;)

  2. Love the Soliloquy-off! There's the rub indeed! But I do think you saved the best for last. They, were all amazing, but Tennant blew me away.
    What dreams may come? Plenty o'good ones tonight, thanks to you!

  3. I like Tennant. So still. Inward. I'm not so much into all the fist clenching and battlement pacing.

    Heidi Hamburg

  4. Olivier's has been my favorite until a few weeks ago. David Tennant's really amazed me. His was the first to leave the thinking behind and to share the mental anguish one would associate with 'To be or not to be'.

    I have to say my dark sense of humour found it hilarious that PBS aired Hamlet just prior to Canada's Mental Health Week.

  5. Excellent post! I didn't even know David Tennant played Hamlet. Now I must carve out some Youtube time to check out his performance.

    When I saw the 1990 Hamlet, I really liked the set design, costume and performances (plus I LOVED Nathaniel Parker as Laertes...I practically love NP in almost anything lol). But the Branagh version came along and was just gorgeous. KB knocked his role out of the park as usual and I loved the design and costumes there as well. Kate Winslet is probably my fave Ophelia.

    Not having seen Tennant's performance yet (or Olivier's), I'd probably go with Branagh because he completely rocks his Shakespeare productions!

  6. Although I love Branagh in more ways than one and much more than I care to admit, I have to say that recently my favorite Hamlet has been a costume-wearing, make-up caked, wise-cracking clown. YES, Hamlet, the clown. An Indian production brought in the most unusual of renditions and caused me to fall head over heels with a man who taunted his co-stars on stage, made fun of us the audience and jumbled the Bard's story - not to mention his verses - to the point of exasperation. Yet, I have never loved Shakespeare as much...
    So I nominate a new Hamlet to the bunch: Atul Kumar.


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