In pictures: Hamlet actors through the ages

David Tennant (1971 – ) is a Scottish actor who is best known as Doctor Who but has received wide acclaim for his portrayal of Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s modern-dress 2008 adaptation of the play. The production was a great critical success and a BBC television adaptation was released in December 2009.

Kenneth Branagh (1960 – ) is a Northern Irish actor and director whose 1996 film Hamlet was the first unabridged theatrical film adaptation of the play. The film, set in the Nineteenth-century and just over four hours long, received very good reviews, but Branagh’s acting was considered over-the-top by some critics.

Laurence Olivier (1907 – 1989) was one of the most revered actors of the Twentieth-century. He both directed and took on the title role of his 1948 adaptation of Hamlet. Although cut down to almost half the original text, it was the first British film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and Olivier remains the only actor to have won Best Actor for a Shakespearean role.

Edwin Booth (1833 – 1893) was an American actor who is widely considered the greatest Hamlet of the 19th century, setting a record of 101 performances as the title character. He was the brother of John Wilkes Booth, another actor, who assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

Sarah Siddons (1755–1831) was a well known English actress of the Eighteenth-Century and the first woman in the role of Hamlet on stage. However, she was most famous for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth. Since 1952, there exists a Sarah Siddons Award for dramatic achievement.

Richard Burbage (1568 – 1619) was an English actor and the chief tragedian of Shakespeare’s theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. He had great power and scope as an actor, and was very much in demand: he appeared in many plays by other prominent writers of the time such as Jonson, Webster and Marlowe. Many argue Shakespeare wrote the role of Hamlet with Burbage particularly in mind.

Leave a comment



Please note our disclaimer relating to comments submitted. Please do not post pretending to be another person. Nouse is not responsible for user-submitted content.