Daisy Ridley stars as the Shakespearian heroine in a new image from the movie Ophelia. Claire McCarthy directs the period drama, which re-imagines Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet. Naomi Watts co-stars as Gertrude, the queen of Denmark and mentor to Ophelia. A first-look image hit the internet last May but news on the film has been scarce since then. Clive Owen, Tom Felton, George MacKay, and Dominic Mafham round out the cast.
Despite her status as the most well-known of all Shakespeare women, Ophelia actually plays a small part in Hamlet. Her job in the play mostly is to come unraveled as her lover Hamlet grapples with his own demons. While Hamlet takes his sweet time deciding whether to kill the king, Ophelia becomes tormented by his lack of attention to her. Finally, Ophelia goes mad and commits suicide by drowning. The death of Ophelia provides the final nudge of motivation for Hamlet, setting off the play’s bloody final act. But Claire McCarthy’s Ophelia seeks to re-imagine the character by elevating her beyond a mere love interest and tragic figure who only exists to serve the main hero’s arc.
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EW has shared a fresh image from Ophelia, previewing the film’s new take on the doomed character. Daisy Ridley is a wide-eyed Ophelia conversing with Naomi Watts’ Gertrude. See the image below:
In Hamlet, the relationship between Gertrude and Ophelia remains somewhat murky. But this new take will zero in on that relationship and sharpen things by showing how Gertrude becomes a mentor to her handmaiden. By shifting the focus away from tortured Hamlet and onto Ophelia, the film seeks to portray Ophelia as more than a victim and prototypical “mad woman” who loses it after being rejected by a man. Claire McCarthy explained to EW:
“We wanted her to feel a lot more empowered and a lot more visceral than the original Ophelia, who is really only in a handful of scenes.”
Ophelia’s Daisy Ridley currently stars in a little low-budget indie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in which she plays one of the most memorable empowered heroines of recent years. Recently, the actress indicated she would call it quits as Rey after Star Wars 9. But Ridley later clarified her stance on her Star Wars future, claiming she was misquoted. In addition to at least one more Star Wars movie, Ridley will also star in the dystopian drama Chaos Walking from Doug Liman. Ridley also reportedly will star as real-life spy Virginia Hall in A Woman of No Importance. Don’t look for Daisy Ridley to be playing shirking violets any time soon.
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Ridley’s Ophelia is screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival beginning in late January. With Ridley in the lead, the film should have no trouble picking up a U.S. distributor.