As Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis writes in his note, after starring in the Public’s Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet, Oscar Isaac went on to “extraordinary stardom and recognition,” including “his breathtakingly beautiful performance in Show Me a Hero, one of the great television achievements of the millennium,” for which he won a Golden Globe.
Isaac returns to the theatrical grounds that launched his career, currently playing the title role in the Sam Gold-directed Hamlet. The show runs through September 3 at the Off-Broadway venue. But Isaac isn’t the only one in the cast who balances stunning stagecraft with boundary-pushing screen work. From new hit series like I Love Dick and Glow to old faithfuls like Law & Order: SVU, here’s why you may recognize some of the faces in Shakespeare’s masterpiece—and how you can continue to watch them deliver great performances after you’ve left the theatre.
For tickets and information for Hamlet, click here.
ROBERTA COLINDREZ, Rosencrantz
I Love Dick, Amazon
From Transparent creator Jill Soloway comes this edgy new series about a frustrated filmmaker played by Kathryn Hahn, struggling in her marriage, who finds herself drawn to the macho and magnetic professor, Dick, played by Kevin Bacon. Colindrez, who originated the role of Joan in Fun Home at the Public, plays Devon in the new series. A struggling artist, Devon is a gender fluid character, and Soloway has already called her performance “masterful.” Taking the stage as half of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern duet set to spy on Hamlet (and eventually escort him to England), Colindrez will no doubt have her own spin on the classic character.
RITCHIE COSTER, Claudius
Shades of Blue, NBC
Coster plays Michael Bianchi on the show starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta (and with recurring star Tony nominee Santino Fontana). In the show following Lopez as the female officer working undercover for the FBI to report misconduct in her own unit, Coster plays the Brooklyn mob boss who makes deals with cops to make evidence disappear. The actor previously appeared on the second season of True Detective and in the feature film Creed. No doubt these villainous tendencies will emerge in his portrayal of the newly crowned King Claudius.
PETER FRIEDMAN, Polonius
The Path, Hulu
Known to theatre fans as the original Tateh in Ragtime, Friedman was last on Broadway in 2004’s Twelve Angry Men. But Friedman splits his time on Hulu’s The Path as recurring character Hank Armstrong. (Fun fact: His Ragtime co-star Brian Stokes Mitchell is also a recurring character on the streaming series.) The second season dropped this past January. As the advisor to King Claudius, he’ll bring wisdom and wit to the Public stage.
OSCAR ISAAC, Hamlet
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Having graduated Juilliard in 2005, Public artistic director cast Isaac in that summer's production of John Guare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona. Since then, Isaac’s screen career has taken off, with lauded turns in Show Me a Hero, Inside Llewyn Davis, and more. Soon, he’ll appear as Poe Dameron in the next installation of Star Wars. Isaac takes on the titanic role of the Prince of Denmark, devastated by his father’s death, his mother’s remarriage, and his uncle’s usurpation of his throne that all trigger the world’s most famous existential crisis.
Take a First Look at Oscar Isaac in The Public’s Hamlet
KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY, Horatio
Friends From College, Netflix
Playing House, USA
Since his Comedy Central show Key & Peele went off the air in 2015, Keegan-Michael Key’s career has taken off like a bullet. Cameos on Modern Family, bit parts in films like Pitch Perfect 2, current voiceover gigs on shows like Archer and Bob’s Burgers, all dot his résumé. But, now, Key returns to the place he thought he would spend his entire career: the Shakespearean stage. “My plan was to do Shakespeare festivals for the rest of my life and work in regional theatres,” Key told Playbill in an earlier interview. While he takes time to play Hamlet’s confidant, his new Netflix series Friends From College drops July 14 and he returns to Season 3 of Playing House, the comedy about two childhood best friends, Maggie and Emma, who move in together in their hometown to co-parent Maggie’s baby after her marriage falls apart. Key plays Mark, a local cop and Emma’s first love. For Hamlet, Key drops the comedy to play Hamlet’s only true friend.
GAYLE RANKIN, Ophelia
As Hamlet’s beloved Ophelia, Rankin plays the delicate waif gone mad after the death of her father, Polonius, in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Though she may be nunnery-bound in Hamlet, Rankin lets out her wild side as Sheila the She-Wolf on the surprise smash streaming series GLOW. Inspired by 1980's Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, the first season of the show-within-a-show chronicles the quest of women to be cast in the pilot of the glam wrestling extravaganza. Later this year, she’ll be on the big screen in Irreplaceable You.
MATTHEW SALDÍVAR, Guildenstern
The other half to Colindrez’s Rosencrantz, Saldívar plays Hamlet’s other childhood best friend set to escort the prince to England after he kills Polonius. Notably, Saldívar has made more of a name for himself on the stage—having performed in Honeymoon in Vegas and Act One on Broadway (which was filmed as part of Live at Lincoln Center).
CHARLAYNE WOODARD, Gertrude
The Leftovers, Amazon
The Blacklist, NBC
A frequent guest star on that theatre-people’s side job Law & Order: SVU as Sister Peg, Charlayne Woodard has also guested on the recent series People of Earth, The Blacklist, and The Leftovers (which just aired its final season). Here, she reawakens her maternal sensibilities as Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.
ANATOL YUSEF, Laertes
The second season of the comic book-based series starring Dominic Cooper (The History Boys) premiered June 26. Yusef plays government agent Deblanc, currently leading a top-secret investigation that leads him to Jesse Custer, a preacher with a criminal past. In Hamlet, Yusef trades his gun-slinging investigator for the poisoned sword-wielding Laertes set on avenging the deaths of his father and sister.