If you were asked to cast an actor to play the role of Claudius in a film version of Hamlet, what characteristics or features would you look for?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

King Claudius is a complex character and as such requires a consummate actor. Past film versions of Hamlet have featured very reputable actors; in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of the play, Sir Derek Jacobi plays Claudius. Jacobi is a mature English actor who was knighted for this artistic contributions to theatre and film. He also starred in the PBS series Cadfael. Other veteran English actors who have played Claudius include Patrick Stewart, Anthony Hopkins, and Alan Bates, as well as American actor Kyle Maclachlan. Most of these actors have a refined air, rather than a rugged manliness.

Claudius is well-spoken, using sophisticated language and often a charismatic choice of words to manipulate those around him, particularly Gertrude, who he married after murdering her ex-husband so that he could ascend to the throne. He is ambitious and, obviously, something of a sociopath. No doubt there will be more film versions of Hamlet, and there are many fine actors who would be well-suited to play the role. I'd like to see Jeremy Irons play the part, though the role is often played by slightly younger actors. I also think Daniel Craig would make a very charismatic Claudius, as would Clive Owen.