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Interview with Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key


Keegan-Michael Key

Hamlet
Keegan-Michael Key

Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key is currently making his off-Broadway debut as Horatio, starring alongside Oscar Isaac in the Public Theater revival of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. An official opening is set for July 13, with the limited engagement coming to a close on September 3, 2017.

Keegan-Michael Key won an Emmy Award in 2016 for his comedy show Key and Peele (with Jordan Peele). He had previously earned a total of 7 Emmy nominations for the programme. He is also known for his TV appearances on MADtv and film roles in Tomorrowland, Keanu, Vacation, Welcome to Happiness, Pitch Perfect 2, Teacher of the Year, and Wanderlust. He has also worked extensively as a voice actor, including such credits as The Lego Movie, SuperMansion, Bob's Burgers, Archer, Storks, The Angry Birds Movie, and Hotel Transylvania 2.

We caught up with Mr. Key prior to starting rehearsal for Hamlet and here's what he had to say:

Photo by Carl Kissin
Keegan-Michael Key
Keegan-Michael Key

Thomas Hayden Millward: How are you feeling now heading into the preparations for Hamlet at the Public Theater?

Keegan-Michael Key: Well, we start rehearsals in a couple of weeks and Iím not as panicked because Iím not playing Hamlet myself. Iím playing Horatio, thank God! (Laughs) I feel like itís one of the greatest pieces of literature in Western civilisation and so the sense of sacredness is already intact. Iíve never done this before in my career, but itís one of those shows where the director [Sam Gold] has asked that we be off book before we start. So, no pressure there (Laughs) but Oscar [Isaac] has been preparing for this role for about 15 years! I think heís good to go. Everybodyís raring to go and weíre ready to tackle this thing wholeheartedly.

THM: Have you had many chances to see the play before?

KMK: I think Iíve seen two or three productions of it Hamlet Ė West End, Off-Broadway Ė Iíve seen it at different levels from graduate school to professional levels. Itís always different in terms of the way one cuts it or the way one decides what the take of itís going to be. Is this one going to be about death? Is it going to be about martial law? Whatever the case may be, it never exhausts itself.

Photo by Carol Rosegg
Michael-Keegan Key in Hamlet
Michael-Keegan Key in Hamlet
More Production Photos

THM: Can you tell us anything about Sam Goldís interpretation for this production?

KMK: We donít know, as a matter of fact. Sam directed ĎFun Home,í ĎA Dollís House, Part 2,í and the recent New York Theatre Workshop production of ĎOthelloí and heís at the helm now, so weíre really thrilled and excited. We did a workshop last August, but heís not let us in on anything yet. We watched wheels turning, but we didnít get to see what kind of wheels. We didnít get to see what was going on in his mind. He was teasing us and that really makes you want to go into rehearsal.

THM: He does usually like to strip things back though, doesnít he?

KMK: Yes, he does. I have a sense itís going to be pared down. I think weíre dealing with a cast of nine in total. Thereíll be a lot of double-casting and perhaps even triple-casting. So weíll see how that goes.

THM: Well, whatever the weather, youíre in safe hands, Mr. Key. And I wish you all the very best with the production.

KMK: Thank you so much!

Photo by Carl Kissin
Keegan-Michael Key

Hamlet is currently booking through to September 3, 2017 at off-Broadway's Public Theater.

- by Thomas Hayden Millward

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