First Look at Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in 'Macbeth' Film Adaptation

The Tragedy of Macbeth with Denzel Washington

The Oscar winners take on the Shakespearean classic in a film by Joel Coen. 

On Thursday, Apple and A24 finally shared the first look at Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in the highly anticipated film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The two Oscar winners lead Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which will make its world premiere during the opening night of the 59th New York Film Festival. 

In the “boldly inventive visualization of the Scottish Play,” Washington takes on the titular role of the anguished man who would be king while McDormand takes on the Machiavellian role of Lady Macbeth. 

Rounding out the cast is Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan, Corey Hawkins as Macduff, Moses Ingram as Lady Macduff, Harry Melling as Malcolm, Ralph Ineson as The Captain, Brian Thompson as Young Murderer, Sean Patrick Thomas as Monteith, Lucas Barker as Fleance and Kathryn Hunter as the witches, which is described as “a virtuoso physical inhabitation” of the popular trio.  

According to Apple and A24, this interpretation will set itself apart from the many that came before it. “Though it echoes the forbidding visual designs -- and aspect ratios -- of Laurence Olivier’s classic 1940s Shakespeare adaptations, as well as the bloody medieval madness of Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, Coen’s tale of sound and fury is entirely his own -- and undoubtedly one for our moment, a frightening depiction of amoral political power-grabbing that, like its hero, ruthlessly barrels ahead into the inferno.” 


While speaking to ET about her now Emmy-nominated role in The Queen’s Gambit, Ingram opened up about taking on the popular play and how race will factor into this modern adaptation. 

“We spent a lot of time around the table, getting into the work and nuances of certain words and what certain words mean,” Ingram said of casting Black actors in historically white roles. “You know, if you’re talking to me and you say, ‘Oh, pale…,’ that’s not going to be me. So, obviously, some things had to shift.” 

For the rising star, what stood out to her the most was “to be in period clothes and not be a slave is epic,” she shared. 

And while she couldn’t reveal too much about the film itself, Ingram said that “it was definitely fun to step into Lady Macduff. I’m super excited to have the opportunity to do something like this so early in my career.”   

When it comes to opening the 59th New York Film Festival, Coen said it’s “a place where I’ve been watching movies as an audience member and showing them as a filmmaker for almost 50 years. It’s a real privilege and a thrill to be opening the Festival this year with The Tragedy of…”

The Tragedy of Macbeth debuts at the 59th New York Film Festival on Sept. 24.