February 3, 1990

To Be, or Not To Be Too Old To Play Hamlet

Hamlet is supposed to be the young Prince of Denmark. In his first scene, his mother begs him not to return to school, but stay in Elsinore. I imagine Shakespeare wanted a young man 19-25 years old to play him. The highest-profile performances of the role have been by much older actors. Here's a list of famous actors who have played Hamlet. This list only includes performances listed in the Internet Movie Database. The names are listed alongside their birth year and the year the performance was released in theaters or home video. As a result, the age of the actor when the performance was made may be a year or two younger.

Ethan Hawke1970200030
Ian McKellen1939197031
Nicol Williamson1938196931
Mel Gibson1956199034
Kenneth Branagh1960199636
Richard Chamberlain1934197036
Christopher Plummer1927196437
Campbell Scott1961200039
Richard Burton1925196439
Laurence Olivier1907194841
Derek Jacobi1938198042
Kevin Kline1947199043