Peter O’Toole and Orson Welles on Hamlet

Mark Evan Chimsky

While writing Swagger, I stumbled upon a brilliant conversation between Peter O’Toole and Orson Welles on Hamlet, filmed for the BBC program Monitor on October 1963.

Also participating are moderator Hugh Wheldon and actor Ernest Milton.

The interview was recorded at the time that O’Toole was playing Hamlet, under the direction of Laurence Olivier.

It became an important touchstone for me because of what O’Toole says about Hamlet—that it is most certainly a play about grief.

This was the validation I needed that I was on the right track, in depicting Shakespeare’s coming to terms with his own grief over the death of his eleven-year-old son and his father’s impending death, and using his emotions to create Hamlet.

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