Shakespeare Uncovered (2012–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - 'Macbeth' with Ethan Hawke - full transcript

Ethan Hawke invites viewers to join him in his quest to play Shakespeare's murderous Thane of Cawdor by uncovering the true story that served as inspiration, immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions and discovering Shakespeare's extraordinary insights into the criminal mind.

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When you think of violent murders,

brutal crimes, and
nightmarish horrors,

you might think of a big city,

you might think of Manhattan.

Or if you're like me,

you might think
a little bit past that

to about a 400-year-old
play named "Macbeth."

This is the story of one
man who will kill his way

to win the Scottish throne.

"Macbeth" is a play that
you're not even supposed to say

the name of it because
even the name of it

is supposed to conjure witches
and the dregs of the universe.

This tale of serial murder
is the darkest and strangest

of all Shakespeare's plays.

The play may be 400 years
old, but anybody paying attention

can recognize everybody in it.

They can recognize the
evil in the heart of man.


It's probably never drawn

a more beautiful portrait
of a broken, greedy heart

than the bloody
heart of "Macbeth."

Maybe foolishly, it's a part
I've always wanted to play.

I feel like if you're gonna
play one of these parts

you have to...

seek out some truth about it.

When Shakespeare
wrote "Macbeth,"

he explored the darker
side of the human psyche.

Macbeth will become a
traitor, a butcher, a serial killer,

and yet what's so powerful
is that Shakespeare

hasn't written a
play about a monster.

He's written a play about a man.

"Macbeth" explores our
capacity for violence and evil,

and for an actor,
that can be scary.

I never wanted to play it.

When I was younger, I
was petrified of the play

because, to be honest, I
thought I might go crazy if I did it,

but now for some reason,
I'm not as scared of it as I was,

and I'm not saying
that I'm braver.

It's just I... I realize that
there is that aspect to life,

and it isn't really worthwhile
to pretend it's not there.

Playing this part would mean
asking myself some tough questions,

so the essential thing for
me would be to work out

how to prepare for it.

I think... and this is something
that nobody really wants to say,

but the best way that I
can ever prepare for a part

is to surround myself
with really smart people.

I'd seek advice and wisdom
from historians, scholars,

directors who have their own
knowledge and experience.

The other thing I would
do to begin work on this

is watch as many
as I could find.

You can watch
Polanski's "Macbeth,"

you can watch Orson
Welles' "Macbeth,"

and of course the trick is,
then you have to forget all that

and live it and make
it real for yourself.

It isn't often one gets a
chance to do these plays.

This is great.

I've done this one.

Through my long
career, I've played it

on both sides of the Atlantic,

I've done a textbook on it.

I don't know what I
haven't done about this play

except do it as
well as I'd like to.

It's a great feeling to
be dealing with material

which is better than yourself,

that you know that
you can never live up to.

It's weird to see such
ego and such humility

at the same time.

What a bizarre
guy Orson Welles is.

However you play
Macbeth, this is the story.

So foul and fair a
day I have not seen.

Macbeth starts out as a warrior

rewarded by the
king for his bravery.

The king hath happily
received, Macbeth,

the news of thy success.

We are sent to bring thee
from our royal master thanks.


Then 3 witches, or weird sisters,

as Shakespeare calls them,

prophesy that he
himself will be king.

All hail Macbeth!

Thou shalt be king hereafter.

Macbeth and his wife
decide to make it happen.

He murders the king himself

and then all other
possible rivals.


There's so much
violent gore in the play,

but it's the
supernatural element,

these witches or weird sisters,

that trigger Macbeth's
dark dissent into murder.

Their prophecy
will fire his ambition.

When shall we 3 meet again

In thunder,
lightning, or in rain?

When the hurly-burly's done,

When the battle's lost and won.

That will be ere the set of sun.

Where the place?

Upon the heath.

There to meet with Macbeth.

The funny thing
about the witches

is it's just the most
genius piece of writing.

The language is so
evocative and strange.

Macbeth will murder
to satisfy his ambition,

but the evil inspiration
comes from the witches.

They tell him he will be king,
so the current king must die.

That fatal decision is the
pivot of the drama of "Macbeth."

When shall we 3 meet again

In thunder,
lightning, or in rain?

At the Globe in London,
a replica of the theater

Shakespeare actually worked in,

they are running
the opening scene.

Where the place?

Upon the heath.

There to meet with Macbeth.

Fair is foul...

and foul is fair:

Hover through the
fog and filthy air.

Most of this scene
here, you don't speak.

So the rest of the...
if you do turn back...

Now Macbeth and his
close comrade Banquo

encounter the witches
for the first time.

All right. Let's see
it one more time.


So foul and fair a
day I have not seen...

The witches deliver
their prophecy.

The thane will bypass
his rivals to become king.

Macbeth's reaction will drive
the action of the rest of the play,

but had he always
desired the crown,

or have the witches
planted that idea?

All hail Macbeth!

Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

All hail Macbeth!

Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

All hail Macbeth!

Thou shalt be king hereafter!

Heh heh heh!

It's like reading a horoscope,

which I never do,

and the horoscope saying,
"This is going to happen to you,"

and however
sensible you might be

and however much you might
not believe in horoscopes,

this thing has been
planted in your head,

and we're quite
susceptible to that, I think.

so unsettling about this play

is that the one characteristic
that undoes Macbeth

is simply ambition.

What's scary about is what
lives inside each one of us,

and, you know, yeah, not
all of us want to be king,

but, you know, there's
a ton of actors out there

that would lie, cheat, and
kill their mother for an Oscar

or an Olivier award,
whatever it is, you know.

We have these ambitions, and we
want to set ourselves apart so much

that we're willing to
forego all kindness,

and all the best parts
of ourselves in the name

of achieving the goal.

As we've seen, the trigger for
Macbeth comes from witches.

Today, everyone's going
to react to that differently,

but I'd like to know what
Shakespeare's audience made of witches.

This is an age in one
sense of witchcraft.

Everyday lives are injected with

the spiritual war between
the devil and God.

The historian Justin Champion

is an expert in the
17th Century world.

For the early modern audience,
witches are everywhere.

They would have read about
it, the would have sung about it,

discussed with their
neighbors in the alehouses.

She may not have been caught,
or she may have been executed,

but you would
know about a witch.

So the magic and the witchcraft
and the ghosts in Shakespeare

are not sort of frilly extras

making it all a
little bit more exotic.

These are very
powerful languages

that the audience would
have connected with

almost straightaway.

In Shakespeare's time,
writing about witchcraft

had major political

Witches were taken
seriously by almost everyone,

even by the king himself.

In 1597, King James I had
written a book on demonology,

correcting and reworking
some passages,

and he did so because he
was convinced that witches

could bring down the
divinely ordained monarchy.

So this play
about killing a king

was clearly a dangerous idea.

The great anxiety that
dominates 16th and 17th Century

political history
is that the devil,

normally through the agency
of the pope and the Antichrist,

are going to somehow topple

government in England.

So this is, again, a
very, very sensitive play.

HAWKE, VOICE-OVER: The play questions
where precisely dark forces come from.

Why does Macbeth
commit horrific acts?

Is it really because of witches,

or is the darkness and evil
already there in the man?

Even scholars aren't sure.

The real question that
they raise of course

is to what extent
they plant or only see

the evil that's in him.

That's the question that the play
really asks about the supernatural.

Does the supernatural
cause anything in the play,

or does it simply forecast
what is already going to happen.

This is really a play
about the danger

of interpretation,

about the human
desire to interpret,

to find certainty,
to find meaning.

Part of the cunning
of "Macbeth" lies

in the difficulty
that everyone has

in determining what it is
that these creatures are doing

and how much
responsibility they have

for what you see unfolding.

In other words,
is the driving force

supernatural and external

or the human
character of Macbeth?

Well, the first
question I would have

is who is he in the beginning?

I mean, how noble is he
when it starts, you know?

On one level, the
strongest choice

would be that he's
a very noble person,

that then the witches come
on, and he just unravels.

That might be kind of... But
it doesn't sound true to me.

Exactly what turns Macbeth
from a merely ambitious warrior

into a conspiratorial murderer

seems to be a tricky
question to answer.

wonderfully ambiguous,

and it's up to the
actor to decide.

So to make up my mind,
I thought it would help

to know who
Shakespeare based him on.

Who was the real Macbeth?

Because there
was a real Macbeth.

Macbeth is known to have
lived in Scotland in Perthshire

nearly a thousand years ago.

No one knows for
sure exactly where,

but Dunsinane is
the most likely spot.

Let's see. We'll
watch this thing.

I've heard that name so often,

but I've never actually
seen an image of it.

The historian Justin
Champion has gone there.

Ethan, I'm in Scotland,

and as you'll
know from the play,

behind me here
is Dunsinane hill,

somewhere that's connected
very much with Macbeth.

Macbeth of course
was a real figure

and very closely
associated with this area.

So if I turn and let
you have a look,

over there is Dunsinane hill.

It's exactly like I pictured it.

So I'm right to the top

of Dunsinane hill now,

which is a pretty
dramatic sort of panorama,

and this is the site
of a fortress we know

from archeological records.

It wasn't a castle.

They didn't have castles
a thousand years ago,

but the top of this
would have been fortified.

This would have been
an absolutely almost

impregnable defensive point.

From the top here, we can
see right over to the North Sea,

we can look that
way to Birnam Wood,

so it's an incredibly brilliant
natural place to fortify.

It's the perfect place
to see some witches.

I mean, that's for sure.

Even the moon out in the
daytime is kind of creepy.

So that's the place where
Macbeth probably lived,

but what about the
actual man Macbeth

and the reigning King
Duncan that he kills in the play?

In Shakespeare's
account of Duncan's death,

Macbeth is very much
the tyrant, the deceitful host

who murders his
godly king in his sleep.

In fact, we know that Macbeth
defeated Duncan on the battlefield,

and it's more than likely
that in that particular episode

Duncan was the aggressor.

So he was invading
Macbeth's kingdom,

and Macbeth did as all good
kings of their own lands would do...

Defend his own
rights and privileges.

So in one sense, Duncan's
death was just a casualty of war.

So Macbeth does not
display the sort of deceit

and traitorous treason
that Shakespeare delivers

to us in the play.

the question I wonder about is

how much of a historian
was Shakespeare?

Did he just kind of
know a few names

and make this stuff up,

or did he study it
and deliberately do it?

Is this what he kind
of thought happened?

Did somebody tell him a
story about how Macbeth

was actually a bad guy
and so he just ran with it, or...

That I'd be curious to know.

It's true Shakespeare
had a reputation

for adapting and
embroidering historical facts,

but here it seems
the historical facts

had already been
adapted and embroidered.

So why?

I think we have to
blame the historians.

We need to think
about how history

is always written
by the victors,

and Macbeth lost.

He was executed.

Malcolm took over
the reign of Scotland,

so almost straightaway
as the loser,

Macbeth is invented as a tyrant,

and that's the material that
Shakespeare has to work with.

Ruling kings were
determined to show

their claim to the throne was
better than that of any rivals',

and the historians
were expected to help.

We have historians
who deliberately set out

to invent tradition.

Many of the accounts
of Scottish history

are recognizably,
even to contemporaries,

based on fictions
and fake documents,

but as long as they work, as long
as they suit the powers that be,

they are regarded as as credible

as any other history
that you might encounter.

Scottish history may not
reflect the real Macbeth,

but it does show the
brutal, cutthroat world

that kings lived in
and their queens.

I also need to understand
Macbeth's soul mate Lady Macbeth,

who is as notorious
as her husband.

She is his partner in crime,

so how actor might play
Macbeth will depend a lot

on who he thinks she is and
on the influence she wields.

"They met me in
the day of success"...

She first enters, reading
a letter from Macbeth,

where he can't
contain his excitement

about the witches' prophecy.

"When I burned in desire
to question them further,

they made themselves air"...

The question is is he
likely to act on it alone,

or will his wife push him
over the line to dire actions

in the hope of glory?

Then shalt be what
thou art promised.

nature of Lady Macbeth's role

in their crimes has
sparked a fierce debate.

So this is the evil
vampire Judith Anderson.

It would be cool to
do it as vampires.

She was apparently
described as a vampire.

meeting with a performance historian

to talk about the variety
of different Lady Macbeths.

We have Ellen Terry
here in a famous

Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Some of the really
successful Lady Macbeths

that the public has
loved have been

incredibly powerful
and assertive

and have really bullied
their husbands into action.

So one of the most
popular in the 19th Century...

Charlotte Cushman... was
a woman who was famous

for towering over her Macbeths.

In fact, I do have
a picture of that.

She's quite powerful, and you
can imagine her playing this role...

She tells you to
go kill somebody,

you're gonna go kill them.

You're gonna do it.

Or she's gonna kill you.

Edwin Booth, who
played Macbeth to her,

apparently complained
that he felt like saying,

"Why don't you
just kill him yourself?

You're a great deal
bigger than I am."

But she was a colorful woman.

She lived openly as a lesbian,

which was not entirely
typical at that time,

and she played the role tough.

People were scared of her,

but people were
also impressed by her

because she knew
what she wanted,

she knew how to get there,

she knew how to get
her husband there.

Apparently an
alternative approach

was Sarah Bernhardt's.

She played up the
inherent sexuality in the play.

Sarah Bernhardt was seen
very much as a sex symbol,

and she really played that
in Lady Macbeth to the hilt

to the point where some
people found it distasteful.

They thought, "No.
This woman's evil.

"Don't make her so appealing.

Don't make us feel
so allured by her."

And theirs was a very
kind of lusty relationship.


Which I think is in the text.

I think that works really well.

Ironically, it's one of the
happiest marriages that we see...

That we see. I know.

In a Shakespeare play.

I know. It's the only really
happily married couple we get.

We get people falling in
love and breaking up a lot

but rarely a portrait
of a steady couple.

whether you play her bullying

or seductive, this idea
of a manipulative woman

pushing her man to
excess has become iconic.

You might remember in 1990s
there was an article written

about Hillary Clinton titled "The
Lady Macbeth of Little Rock."

And there's been
a long tradition...

People saw her as
Lady Macbeth a lot,

as always manipulating him

and bullying him.

People want to be able to use
her to explain away what they see

as the failings or the
drive or the mistakes made

by a powerful man.

There's a way that she
can become an excuse

for a man that you
want to forgive, I think.

Men particularly
like the idea of

"I wouldn't have
done anything wrong

if it wasn't for that Eve."

Absolutely. It's been done...

seen, however Lady Macbeth is cast,

the one big question
that has to be answered is

does she make him a killer?

Who wields the power
in this relationship?


How now! What news?

He has almost supp'd:

why have you left the chamber?

Hath he ask'd for me?

Know you not he has?

Just to see that change...

Back at the Globe in London,

they are working on the
scene in which this question

is most central...
Who is in control?

I think you've got to come
right back at him physically.


After the witches' prophecy,

the couple had plotted
to kill the king themselves,

but then Macbeth has a
complete change of heart

and rejects the plan.

His wife is furious.

She knows him to
be an ambitious man,

and she's more... In a
way, she's more realistic

about what it will take to
achieve what they both want,

and that's really what
Shakespeare's written here.

He's written this couple
that both want the same thing

at a certain point.

We will proceed no further

in this business:

He hath honour'd me of late;

and I have bought
Golden opinions

from all sorts of people

That would be worn
now in their newest gloss,

not cast aside so soon.

Was the hope drunk
Wherein you dress'd yourself?

Hath it slept since?

And wakes it now, to
look so green and pale

At what it did so freely?

Art thou afeard

To be the same in
thine own act and valour

As thou art in desire?

Lady Macbeth raises the
question of what a man is

and is a man someone who
dares to take what he is promised,

who dares to
challenge authority,

who dares to kill the king?

I dare do all that
may become a man;

Who dares do more is none.

What beast was't, then,

That made you break
this enterprise to me?

When you durst do it,
then you were a man;

And, to be more than
what you were, you would

Be so much more the man.

He's really poised at
that moment of possibility.

He might go forward with it,
he might not go forward with it,

and yet it's the sense
that if he doesn't do it

he will be shamed in the
eyes of his wife forever.

If we should fail?

We fail.

But screw your courage
to the sticking-place,

And we'll not fail.

Well, it certainly feels
that she's dominant,

that she has the power in the
relationship in the beginning

and that in many ways you
can feel her manipulating him,

but I think he's a person
who wants to be manipulated.

I mean, it's easy to say
that she talks him into it,

but it's also he's
not such a hard sell.

Fired up by his wife, Macbeth
is on the brink of doing the deed.

His thoughts are
racing, he's hallucinating.

He's about to give us one of the
most famous speeches in the play,

the dagger scene.

So how would I play that?

Is this a dagger
that I see before me?

I see thee still. I see
thee still! Ha ha ha!


One of my good friends

actor Richard Easton
has played Macbeth

and is gonna help.

All right. So I'll read this,

and you teach me
about it as you do.

I mean, just help me with it.



"Is this a dagger
which I see before me,

"The handle toward my hand?

Come, let me"...

I think that's an advance.

You know, "Is this a
dagger that I see before me...

The handle toward my hand?"

That means it's being
offered for you to use.

Right. So it's...

It's not just a thing
floating in the air.

think that one of the things

that somebody needs to do
if you really are gonna play

any of these roles is not only
break down all the language,

not only need to understand
how it was meant to be played,

you need to really
understand all the rules

that Shakespeare was setting up

before you can break them.

Of time, We'll jump
the life to come!

Part of the challenge
is always just

understanding the words.

What does that mean, "Proceeding
from the heat-oppressed brain"?

The heat-oppressed brain...

Because my brain's so hot.

It's so hot, I'm...

I'm sweating, I'm
feverish. Right, right, right.

It's not fancy poetical.
It's actually literal.

It's actually his head his hot.

Yeah, right. OK. I get it. OK.

"And on that blade and
dudgeon gouts of blood."

Is that the right... "gouts"?


"Which was not so before."

"Hec-tate's offer"...

"Hec-et's." "Hec-et's."
"Hecate's offrings,

and wither'd murther."

What's "murther"? Murder.

Oh. Oh. OK.

Will you read it for me?

There's always a certain
magic that happens

when you start to say the lines
out loud that you can't anticipate.

It feels like a spell.

"Is this a dagger

"that I see before me?

"The handle toward my hand?

"Come, let me clutch thee.

"I have thee not,

"and yet I see thee still.

"Art thou not, fatal
vision, sensible

"to feeling as to sight?

"Or art thou but a
dagger of the mind,

"a false creation, proceeding
from the heat-oppressed brain?

I see thee yet..."

"I go, and it is done;

"the bell invites me.

"Hear it not, Duncan;

"for it is a knell that
summons thee to heaven

or to hell."

See, what I find amazing is,

whenever I first start
reading these, it does seem...

it seems so hard to reach.

You know, when you
first start studying him,

I don't know what marshall'st
means, or I don't know

what murther means,
and it cuts me off from it.

But then, listening to
you do it, it's so obvious

when you know what
you're playing... Yes.

But also, I have played
it. I know you have.

So, and when you have played
it, even when you've rehearsed it,

you'll know that this is
the beginning of Act 2.

You know, there
are 3 more acts to go.

So it can be...

It hasn't... done it. It
hasn't been there yet.

Up until this point in the play,

Macbeth is still
an innocent man.

He's thought about
killing, but he hasn't done it.

The next time we see
him, he's a murderer,

emerging bloody-handed
from the scene of the crime.

I have done the deed.

Didst thou not hear a noise?

I heard the owl scream
and the crickets cry.

Did not you speak? When? Now?

As I descended? Ay. Hark!

Who lies in th' second chamber?


This is a sorry sight.

Shock and numbness and denial

are the first stages of human
response after a massive trauma.

Gwen Adshead has
spent years working

with people who have
committed murder,

listening firsthand
to their experiences.

The fascinating
thing about this is

that Shakespeare
demonstrates this in the language.

If you look at the
language of "Macbeth,"

the language falls apart into
these staccato half-sentences.

And Shakespeare's really
showing us through the language

in exactly the way
that happens in real life,

'cause people's language does fall
apart when they're agitated or distressed.

Go get some water

and wash this filthy
witness from your hand.

Why did you bring these
daggers from the place?

They must lie there.

Go carry them,

and smear the sleepy
grooms with blood.

I'll go no more:

I am afraid to think
what I have done;

Look on't again I dare not.

In his panic,
Macbeth has emerged

clutching the incriminating
murder weapons and is frozen.

Lady Macbeth steps in, returning
them to the scene of the crime,

and now they're
both covered in blood.

You can never go
back, and that, I think,

for me, rings very
true in terms of working

therapeutically with
people who've killed.

It's the absolute
finality of this act.

You've changed the universe
and you can't ever go back

to how it was before,

and that is so profound.

The act of killing
changes everything,

something Macbeth must now face.

The problem for Macbeth is,
I always think, is that he gets

caught up in this idea of
whether to do it or not to do it

and feels like once
he does it, it'll be done.

But, of course, it's not done.

It's actually just beginning,

and I think that's what hits
him after the murder's over.

He realizes he's entered
some new part of his life,

that he can never
return to the old one,

and he has no idea
what's coming now.

Movement and dance are not

what we immediately
think of with Shakespeare.

We think about words.

Here in New York, they're
rehearsing a version of "Macbeth"

that relies on dance,
movement, and mime.

I want to see how
these performers

portray the huge change
that Macbeth has to undergo

without the help of language.

Yeah, amazing.

Unbelievable job.

I will challenge myself
if I ever get to play,

do the Scottish play,
to get buck naked.

Ha ha! Because I think that there's
something so scary and sexy...

I mean, like, if you were really trying
to clean yourself, it's really great.

You know, that's
the most moving thing

I found about watching
you guys play it out,

was there are certain things
that you can express nonverbally

that get lost when you
put too much language in it.

It would be an amazing
thing, if you were actually

going to act the...
Shakespeare's text,

to make yourself do what you guys are doing.
- Take the words away.

Yeah, take the words away
'cause you'd find moments.

You guys have these
moments that are more powerful

than I've ever seen with
the play acted out in words

because you're forced to
look and be with each other.

It's more innate, I think.

I think physicality is something
that people can all relate to.

there's something that can be taken

from watching
this interpretation.

Macbeth had done the deed,

but he and his wife
were in this together.

I think love is the focal point

of this choice
that they've made.

Without it, they would never be
able to go down this path so far.

He does it for her, in a way, because...
- Yeah.

But not because he's
manipulated by her,

but because he wants
to make her happy,

and she wants
something great for him.

Macbeths do something together

that it seems neither of
them would ever do alone.

Shakespeare's tapped into
something that psychologists recognize.

I think homicide often and does
involve creating a type of fantasy world,

and it may be easy to do that
sometimes with another person.

The process of justifying
to yourself becomes crucial,

and that's where the
other person comes in.

I think a key phrase that people
can sometimes use on each other:

"This is the
courageous thing to do."

And, in fact, Lady Macbeth
says this, you know:

"Nail your courage to the
sticking point and we'll not fail."

The couple had been
united in their joint plot,

but now, after the murder,

they start to respond
differently to what they've done.

Even though Macbeth
has become king,

he doesn't feel secure.

Without confiding in his wife,

he orders the
murder of his friend

but potential rival, Banquo.

In a show of normality,
Macbeth hosts a royal banquet

and pretends to expect the
murdered man to appear...

Both sides are even.

But Banquo's place
at the table is filled

by his ghost.

What is't that moves
Your Highness?

Which of you have done this?

What, my lord?

Thou canst not say I did it.

Gentlemen, rise; His
Highness is not well.

Macbeth is the only
one who sees the ghost,

so the power of the scene hinges

on how real the actor
makes his illusion.

Antony Sher found his own
key to playing the scene.

SHER, VOICE-OVER: As part of
my own search for playing the part,

I met two real-life murderers.

And although they
were very different men,

they both answered the same
way to one of my questions,

which was, "Do you ever dream

of your victims?"

And both, phrasing it
differently, answered,

"Only when I'm awake."

And I thought,
"Well, this is perfect

'cause I now know how
to play Banquo's ghost."

See there!

Behold! Look!

While Macbeth is horrified
to see Banquo's ghost,

Lady Macbeth is desperately
trying to cover for him.

What, quite unmann'd in folly?

She sees he's in danger
of revealing a terrible secret,

even though she knows
nothing about Banquo's death.

He's going berserk 'cause
he's seeing Banquo's ghost,

and she's going,
"What are you doing?

Behave yourself.
Don't let it show."

Why do you make such faces?

When all's done, you
look but on a stool.

She still doesn't know
why he's going quite so mad

because he hasn't
told her what's going on.

Avaunt! And quit my sight!

Let the earth hide thee!

Thy bones are marrowless,
thy blood is cold;

Thou hast no
speculation in those eyes!

Think of this, good peers, but as
a thing of custom, for 'tis no other...

Ultimately, all she can do is
chase the horrified guests away.

At once, good night:

Stand not upon the order
of your going, but go at once.

Publicly, the scene has
been dangerous for Macbeth,

but privately, it's a
very intimate moment.

Which must be acted
ere they may be scann'd.

end of the banquet, she says,

"You lack the season
of all natures, sleep,"

as though saying, "Look,
darling, we've had a terrible dinner.

You probably just
need to go to sleep."

you need is a good night's sleep.

All you need is a
cup of tea," you know.

And we just... we just both

spontaneously burst into rather

hysterical, maniacal, not
very comfortable giggles.

Come on. We'll to sleep.

had the dinner party from hell,

It's been a complete disaster,

and they just sit there laughing

like a couple might
who, you know,

the only thing left
to do is to laugh.

It's a desperate moment.

Lady Macbeth has
struggled to stop her husband

from revealing
a terrible secret,

and the experience
seems to divide them.

The couple drifts further apart.

Macbeth goes off alone
to the witches for solace,

but this just provokes
him into the frenzied killing

of even more potential rivals.

He's becoming a solitary tyrant.

The Macbeths are never seen
on the stage together again.

The couple are no
longer connected.

However, what we don't
expect is that now alone,

Lady Macbeth will
completely break down.

In one of the most
famous scenes of the play,

we see Lady Macbeth
driven to sleepwalking,

obsessively acting out her
part in the original crime.

Her terrified maid has brought a
doctor to observe this wild behavior.

Look, how she rubs her hands.

Yet here's a spot.

Out, damn spot!

Out, I say!

One: two:

why, then,

'tis time to do't.

Hell is murky.

The sleepwalking
scene is one of the most...

horrifying scenes
in literature, I think.

It's a deeply distressing
portrait of a broken woman.

Lady Macbeth at the beginning
of the play seems steely,

calculating, cool,

able to handle anything.

And in the course of the
play, you watch her... unravel.

She's been the strong one,

and then you don't expect her

to have any kind of a
breakdown or a moment

in which what she's been
keeping in comes out again

at night and with
visions and so forth.

Yet who would have
thought the old man

to have had so much...

blood in him.

Do you mark that?

What, will these
hands ne'er be clean?

While Lady Macbeth is finally
overwhelmed by her emotions

and loses her mind,

Macbeth seems
to do the opposite.

He seems to suppress all feeling

and somehow just plows on.

There's a very hurt

but numb side in him... now

that "I've just... I'm
covered in so much blood,

"it's not worth washing it off.

I just might as well carry on."

He has no option

but to continue along
this murderous path,

and it becomes...

something he has to do.

He has to plow his way
on, having gained the throne.

She loses her grip on
him, and he becomes...

It's almost she's let loose
this creature, who then

she looks at and thinks,
"What have I let loose?"

He's more of a murderer,
he's more of a maniac

than she ever envisaged.

He's gone past the point when
they could enjoy their power.

He's just not ever
going to be content.

It's at this point,

when he's almost blindly
hacking away at his enemies,

when he seems almost
numb to all feeling,

that Shakespeare
gives Macbeth a speech

of extraordinary beauty
and utter isolation.

How does an actor
prepare for that?

I'm going to see a copy of the
earliest printed edition of "Macbeth,"

known as "The First Folio."

I have never seen a "First
Folio" and I've always wanted to,

so it's kind of like
diving back into time.

There's such a romanticism
to the idea of Shakespeare

staying up all night, you
know, "Romeo and Juliet"

pouring out of his soul,
"Macbeth" pouring out of his soul,

and you somehow want
to... touch that lightning.

What's extraordinary is
that the play "Macbeth"

was not printed until 1623,

7 years after its
author's death.

If it wasn't for his fellow
actors publishing it,

this play could have
been lost forever.

Here we go.

The book is in the Morgan
Library in New York.

It's over 400 years old

and probably worth millions.

But, for many of
us, it's priceless.

Curator John Bidwell has
retrieved it from the vault.

Oh, my favorite
speech. Let's find it.

Awfully near the end there, but
here we are, already into "Hamlet."

God, can you imagine? Heh heh!

Imagine a body of work like
this and you turn one page,

"Macbeth" finishes and
then "Hamlet" begins.

It kind of suits the
end of the Scottish play

that there's a slight burn on
the final page of "Macbeth."

Somebody was upset.

Their cigarette
fell as Macbeth fell.

Only one page. How's
that happen in the book?


The speech I'm looking for comes just
after Macbeth has heard his wife is dead.

She's committed suicide,

and yet he seems
unable to respond.

"Tomorrow and
tomorrow and tomorrow,

"creeps in this petty
pace from day to day

"to the last syllable
of recorded time,

"and all our yesterdays
have lighted fools

"the way to a... dusty death.

"Out, out, brief candle!

"Life's but a walking shadow,

"a poor player that struts and
frets his hour upon the stage

"and then is heard no more:

"it is a tale told by an idiot,

"full of sound and fury,

signifying nothing."

You've heard of words to live
by; those are words to die by.

His vision of life at
that point is so nihilistic

that even the loss of the woman

whom he clearly had loved so
much no longer means anything to him

because he can no longer
feel, he can no longer feel.

And I think that's... at the
end of the day, I think that's

Shakespeare's deepest
insight about what it is

to... to be able

to commit murder
without remorse,

and that is that you
lose the capacity to feel.

seems almost empty of emotion,

and yet, as the climax
of the play approaches,

he will surely know fear.

Now he's learned that the witches' promises
of safety were just dangerous riddles,

and other forces have
assembled to confront him in battle.

He will have to
face his enemies.

That's where
Macbeth is at that point.

He has nothing left to live for,

so why not bring
it all with him?

Ring the alarum-bell!

Blow, wind!

It really is a
portrait of an animal

trapped in a corner
that's going to die,

but it is still fighting

in an instinctive but weary way.

It's still trying
to defend itself,

but it knows that it's lost.

At last, Macbeth's
brutal regime is over.

But what really created it?

Can we finally
answer that question?

Was it the witches that corrupted
Macbeth or his own ambition?

Fantastic idea of "Macbeth" is
that there are things out there.

They really are.

They're monstrous,
disgusting, and disturbing,

but they're also in here.

It is like the horror movie in
which the character being chased

locks the doors,
double-locks it, triple-locks it,

retreats to the bedroom, locks that,
and then discovers that whatever it is

that he's most afraid of
is actually already inside.

HAWKE, VOICE-OVER: After traveling
with Macbeth on this darkest of journeys,

what do we feel about him?

It is a tragedy because there were so many
points in which he might have pulled back.

And he doesn't, and he ends up destroying
the things that were most valuable.

great gift as a writer

is that he never holds
people at arm's length.

He never says,
"Look at this person.

Isn't he disgraceful?"
or "Isn't he ridiculous?"

Shakespeare always says,
"It's me, it's you, it's us."

He always does that.

It is his great gift.

This powerful sense of our shared
humanity is in the text of the play,

and it would just have to be the core
of what I would draw on to play the part.

To my mind, the greatest
challenge in playing Macbeth is,

how do you get people
to care about him?

And it's... you can't do that by
trying to be likeable or something.

You have to do it by
being a human being

'cause while you may not
forgive them or anything,

you would at least have
empathy for their humanity

and the crisis they've gotten themselves
into and relate to it on some level.

And that's... that's the
big magic trick, I think.