When visionary stage and film veteran Julie Taymor decided to tackle William Shakespeare's play 'The Tempest' (now in theaters) she stayed true to form, re-imagining the classic tale of an island-bound sorcerer's plot for revenge with a key transformative twist: She gave the protagonist a sex change. The result is a take on 'The Tempest' that resonates in completely new ways, carried by the force of Helen Mirren's performance as the exiled and usurped Prospera, a noblewoman and practitioner of magic who struggles with vengeance and forgiveness after conjuring a storm that brings her enemies close.

Taymor, currently fine-tuning her biggest project to date – the $65 million Broadway production of 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,' starring 'Tempest' supporting actor Reeve Carney as Peter Parker – took a break from prepping for the show's January debut to discuss the film, which she made two years ago in Hawaii. She shared her reasons for adapting Shakespeare's play (his last solo work and the first Shakespeare that Taymor ever directed for the stage), her preference of old photographic techniques over CG for the film, the significance of Caliban's race and Prospera's gender and how each magnified themes already present in the work, and explained why the 'Spider-Man' mythos – as well as the story of 'The Lion King' – is Shakespearean at its core.
categories Interviews, Cinematical