Thursday 9 December 2010, 11:23
Huddled against the cold in a huge overcoat, I'm cowering by a wall with a vicious-looking Alsatian snapping at my heels.
Fortunately my canine assailant was being expertly restrained as the camera captured my far from feigned fear. I'm the co-producer of Macbeth which is being broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday, 12 December. Sadly my starring moment ended up on the cutting room floor.
The shot was originally intended for the sequence we called, after the former East Germany's secret police, "the Stasi montage". Which suggests that our film of Macbeth is not exactly a conventional presentation of the Scottish play.
Rupert Goold's Macbeth started at the Chichester Festival Theatre, transferred to the West End and then had a triumphant run on Broadway. The film came together after my production company Illuminations worked with Sir Patrick on the film for the BBC of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet with David Tennant.
As with Hamlet, shown on Boxing Day a year ago, we transplanted the stage production to a richly visual location and shot it across three weeks just like a feature film. Our setting was the eerie below ground world at Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
This warren of tunnels, claustrophobic cells and a vast windowless ballroom was created in the mid-nineteenth century by the reclusive fifth Duke of Portland. His descendants still live in the main house, but they seemed content as Macduff's invading army fired off round after round of exceptionally loud blanks from their automatic weapons.
Although his production began life on the stage, Rupert Goold has crafted a fast-moving and highly cinematic version for the screen. Yet I believe it demonstrates a deep respect for Shakespeare's drama, and a full text (including the often-excised "England" scene) is played with very few cuts or additions.Downfall, the tale of Hitler's last days, and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Let us know in the comments which references you spot, and do please tell us whether you think our approach does justice to the play.
At the heart of the film are compelling performances from the immensely polished and practised stage cast.
Kate Fleetwood is a calculating and chilling Lady Macbeth who descends into a desperately moving madness.
Patrick Stewart is imperious as Macbeth: a man of "vaulting ambition" yet also hesitant, a deadly dictator of overweening confidence, but also a man tormented by guilt and regret.
John Wyver is the co-producer of Macbeth.
Macbeth is available in iPlayer until 9.59pm on Sunday, 19 December.
Comments made by writers on the TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.
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