Magazine article Book

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Tim Blake Nelson

Magazine article Book

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Tim Blake Nelson

Article excerpt

This August, Lions Gate Films will release O, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello directed by Tim Blake Nelson. O, which Nelson finished some time ago, is set in a modern-day high school in the American South, and is just as violent as Othello--which, according to a lawsuit recently filed by the film's producers, is one of the reasons Miramax, its previous distributor, chose not to release it last summer. O stars Mekhi Phifer and Julia Stiles.

Q: What is it about Othello that lends itself to this context?

A: Well, it's about envy, it's about jealousy, it's about race, it's about sex, and all of this is going on in high school and it's burgeoning in high school ... What was attractive about the South--first of all, I grew up in the Southwest, so I'm really interested in the South, and I like the music of the South as well--is that Othello is set in a southern climate, on Cyprus.

Q: Did you every consider using Shakespeare's original language?

A: No, it just wouldn't work, because, look, what finally interested me about the script--and I read it and made it before Columbine, but there had been high school shootings before I read it--was that here was a script that was saying not only can you transpose this story into high school in the present, but actually that's the most appropriate place to set it. …

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