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Master of Macbeth

Berkeley Rep takes on Shakespeare, with TV star Conleth Hill.


Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the main character travels a murderous path to the Scottish throne. The Berkeley Rep role won’t be too much of a stretch for Conleth Hill, who has spent the last six years as Varys, the master of whisperers, on HBO’s similarly crown-scheming Game of Thrones. We caught up with Hill to chat about Shakespeare, his Academy Award–winning Macbeth costar Frances McDormand, and how this king might survive the Seven Kingdoms.

Courtesy of Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Q: Are there any similarities between Varys and Macbeth?

A: No, I think they’re polar opposites—or, well, they appear to be polar opposites. One appears to be working for the good of everyone [Varys], and one is pretty single-mindedly egotistical [Macbeth]. One hates magic, and one absolutely loves it and goes back for a second dose.


Q: How do you think Macbeth would fare in Westeros?

A: It depends whom he aligned himself with, I suppose. I don’t think he’s political enough to last in court. He doesn’t seem to listen to much counsel or work well with others. He’d probably be a good warrior and do well in the joust.


Q: Macbeth is so good but so very dark.

A: Yeah, but I mean, that’s what Shakespeare does: He shows the heights of the human condition and the depths as well. That’s why he’s so brilliant.


Q: Is this your first time working with Frances McDormand and Tony Award–winning director Daniel Sullivan?

A: Yes. I’ve been a fan of both for a long time. They are outstanding in their chosen careers. Hopefully, I won’t gush too much—but I can’t promise anything.


Q: What is unique about Berkeley Rep’s production?

A: I think it’s obvious: It’s Frances McDormand playing Lady Macbeth. It’s going to be so enjoyable, and I think people will be most interested in seeing the brilliant things she does with the role.

Macbeth runs February 19 to April 10. For tickets and information, visit berkeleyrep.org.  

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