EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company is nearing a deal to distribute a new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that has Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard starring, This is the one being directed by Snowtown helmer Justin Kurzel, from a script by Jacob Koskoff Todd Louiso that features the original Shakespearean dialogue, but doing an ambitious job of visually framing Macbeth’s plight, as his ambitious wife coaxes him into taking underhanded means to grab power from the reigning king Duncan. The film’s produced by Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films. TWC and Fox Searchlight have been sparring over the picture in the last month or so.
This puts Fassbender in the hands of Harvey Weinstein and despite what the actor said in GQ about not wanting to participate in the Oscar proceedings, Weinstein can certainly be persuasive in making stars of his movies see the benefit in at least trying to play the game. When an actor makes public comments like the ones Fassbender did, the danger is that it can come off as indifference or disdain to Oscar voters and the process. That puts the focus squarely on performance, which of course is where it should be anyway, but we all know life doesn’t work out that way. In this case, Fassbender’s work in 12 Years A Slave is so overpowering it might not matter. It certainly didn’t stop Joaquin Phoenix from getting a Best Actor nomination for his towering performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master even after the actor went public for his aversion to the whole Oscar dog and pony show.
This Oscar campaign season already promises to be most competitive, and distributors will take any advantage they can get. That was evident when the Academy had a party to welcome new members in New York, and side parties were thrown for 12 Years A Slave, Nebraska and Walter Mitty. Oscar voters can’t hide, and even a playful conversation can get blown out of proportion. Meryl Streep sometimes doesn’t campaign for movies, but when she did stump for The Iron Lady, she won the Oscar and her playful demeanor showed a sense of humor that surprised some people. That doesn’t include when she took the stage to accept the prizes and acted like she has never been there before, or ever expected she might win. She almost always wins!