In a May 25, 2013 Festival de Cannes interview on Jim Jarmusch’s new film Only Lovers Left Alive, director Jarmusch and actor John Hurt engage in an impromtu discussion of the Shakespeare authorship mystery.
The 3-minute digression begins when Hurt is asked about his role as a centuries-old vampire Christopher Marlowe: “Well, I’m here basically because I think Jim utterly believes in Christopher Marlowe. He believes that he wrote Shakespeare. He believes that he should be alive now. And … I am!”
Only Lovers Left Alive Cannes interview featuring Jim Jarmusch, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. [Relevant section starts at 3:30 and goes until 6:15.]
The discussion continues:
Jim Jarmusch: “I think one of the biggest scandals in literary history that someday may be divulged is that William Shakespeare didn’t write anything. And there are a lot of us so-called Anti-Stratfordians that don’t believe this [sic]. They included Orson Wells and Sigmund Freud and Ralph Waldo Emerson and [interrupted by voice saying “and John Hurt!”] and John Hurt. And John Gielgud. And now John Hurt as well.
“So there are different theories of who wrote these things. One of them: it’s very possible that Christopher Marlowe’s death was faked – uh, his murder – there’s a lot of research showing this. But really, this idea of Shakespeare – it’s not really important who wrote these beautiful things, but I think it’s very interesting that they are assigned to someone that quite possibly was illiterate – William Shakespeare. It’s very likely he could not even write. So, someday maybe, this will be revealed. I don’t know. Maybe never!”
At which Tilda Swinton says, “Maybe today!” Swinton and fellow British actor Tom Hiddleston have been smiling broadly and looking a little uncomfortable during much of the exchange.
John Hurt adds: “It wouldn’t be a revelation. This has been going on since the death of Shakespeare. But it has never been treated seriously. Particularly by the British. Because I think it would probably change the whole tourist industry. So they find it difficult to take it seriously. But the Americans have taken it seriously for a long time now, have they not, Jim?”
Jarmusch: “Yes. It’s very interesting, I didn’t know John Gielgud was also anti-Stratfordian.”
Hurt: “He was an Oxfordian.”
The interview then returns to the film itself, a meditation on love and culture as seen through the eyes of well-read (and well-written!) vampires.
See a clip from the film Only Lovers Left Alive.