Kenneth Branagh, who was due to direct Jude Law as Hamlet in 2009, has had to withdraw from the production due to conflicting work commitments. He will be replaced by Donmar Warehouse Artistic Director Michael Grandage.
Branagh, who is currently being directed by Grandage in the widely acclaimed Donmar West End production of Ivanov, has been forced to leave the Shakespearean production due to his commitments as director of the cinematic adaptation of Marvel superhero Thor, which is due to be released in 2010.
Speaking about taking control of the production, which now means that he is directing all of the Donmar West End productions, Grandage said: “I am thrilled and flattered to have the opportunity to direct Jude Law – one of the leading actors of his generation – as he takes on one of the most important roles of his career. Kenneth Branagh will continue as Artistic Associate of the season and we have arrived at this arrangement very amicably whilst I still have time to proceed with a brand new production of this great play next year. From the outset Ken has been a huge support and inspiration for the Donmar West End season – a project that we could not have realised without his input.”
Branagh opened the Donmar West End season – which sees the small but mighty producing house take control of the larger stage at the Wyndham’s theatre for a year – by taking the lead role in current hit Ivanov. The season continues with Twelfth Night, which stars Derek Jacobi, Victoria Hamilton and Indira Varma (5 December 2008-7 March 2009), Madame De Sade starring Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike (13 March-23 May) and Hamlet (29 May-22 August).
Leading man Law commented: “I feel privileged to be part of the Donmar West End season and to be directed by the company’s Artistic Director Michael Grandage on Hamlet. It was Ken who brought me to this project and with his support and guidance, as one of the greatest Hamlets of all time, and with Michael directing, I can’t imagine a better scenario for me, as an actor, to undertake the role.”
While Law seems more than happy with the change of director, ticket holders who no longer wish to see the production due to the withdrawal of Branagh can claim a full refund from their point of sale before 29 May 2009.
As a result of taking the reins of Hamlet, Grandage will no longer be able to make his scheduled National Theatre debut next year. He had been due to direct Georg Büchner’s Danton’s Death at the South Bank venue.