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Sample Handout for a Play: Cast Notes

In the sample below, the student looked up online the cast for the 1996 production of Hamlet and provided his own comments in the right-hand column.

The Main Cast of the Kenneth Branagh 1996 version of Hamlet

 (grouped by function)

Kenneth Branagh (left) and Julie Christie
Role Actor Identifying Information
The Danish Royal Court    
Claudius Derek Jacobi Now king, having secretly murdered his brother, for former king, a few months ago and taken over the throne by marrying Gertrude, widow of the man he killed
the Ghost Brian Blessed Hamlet, Sr., father to the college student Hamlet, victim of assassination, being poisoned by his younger brother, Claudius while he napped
Hamlet Kenneth Branagh (the foremost Shakespearean actor of our time) Hamlet, Jr., college student and prince who is charged by his dead father with avenging him on Claudius but not hassling Queen Gertrude; has been seeing Ophelia
Polonius Richard Briers Chancellor to the king, father of Ophelia, puts up a bumbling, officious front while conniving behind the scenes
Laertes Michael Maloney Son of Polonius, concerned brother to Ophelia, sometime friend to Hamlet; tries to avenge Ophelia's suicide and his father's killing by Hamlet
Gertrude Julie Christie (famed British actress, known for playing Lara in 1970's Dr. Zhivago) Vibrant, lusty wife to Claudius, doting mother to Hamlet, probably innocent of assassination and adultery, but didn't complete the traditional year of mourning (seduced by Claudius)
Ophelia Kate Winslet (from Titanic) Dutiful daughter of Polonius, who goes crazy when he is killed by her boyfriend, Hamlet, who has just (apparently) dumped her; sister to Laertes
First Gravedigger Billy Crystal Exchanges witticisms with Hamlet
Reynaldo Gerard Depardieu Spies on Laertes for his father Polonius while Laertes is studying in France
Guildenstern Reece Dinsdale College acquaintance of Hamlet, spy for Claudius (knowingly?)
Rosencrans Timothy Spall Ditto
Horatio Nicholas Farrell Hamlet's trustworthy best friend, watches Claudius for Hamlet to see reaction of the king to the murder scene
Osric Robin Williams Courtier to Claudius who conveys to Hamlet the king's invitation to a friendly sword match with Laertes
English Ambassador Richard Attenborough -----------
Marcellus Jack Lemmon (famed comedian) Guard who sees ghost of Hamlet, Sr., and tells Horatio instead of Claudius
The Visiting "Players"    
Priam John Gielgud Hecuba's husband in scene acted out for Hamlet
Hecuba Judi Dench wife who wails for her dead husband in scene acted out from the Iliad
Player Queen Rosemary Harris shadow of Gertrude in slightly rewritten Murder of Gonzago
Player King Charlton Heston (He's not a god or a messiah but he plays one in movies.) shadow of Hamlet, Sr., in Murder of Gonzago, rewritten slightly by Hamlet, Jr., to parallel the details of his father's secret assassination
Foreign Foils    
Old Norway John Mills Whimpy former king of Norway who lost some of his lands to the former king of Denmark (Hamlet, Sr.)
Fortinbras Rufus Sewell Warrior-king who wants Norway's land back from Claudius and gets more when the Danish court is slaughtered in the violent chess match between Claudius and Hamlet

Released by ……………........…… Columbia Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment

Director of Photography…...…. Alex Thomson

Production Design by…….........Tim Harvey

Costume Design by……….......… Alexandra Byrne

Edited by…………………........…..Neil Farrell

Music by …………….........………..Patrick Doyle

Directed by........................KENNETH BRANAGH 

Source of the listing for roles and actors and production staff: Movieweb: Hamlet 2/10/00

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