David Tennant: Quotes From His Talking Shakespeare Event

On Monday 17th August David Tennant took part in the latest installment in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Talking Shakespeare series. The live online events see some of the RSC's best known actors in conversation with Artistic Director Gregory Doran.

David talked for an hour about his Shakespearean acting career, see below just a few quotes:

On his pathway through Shakespeare's plays
They're almost like the Olympic events for actors. They're fixed points in the careers of actors down the centuries. So if you can hit those fixed points you're in some way setting yourself against these greats...there's a precedent to it, it's seen as a logical progression.

On whether he will ever play Macbeth
Being Scottish there's an almost inevitability of '...when are you going to give your Macbeth?'

On Touchstone, his first role with the RSC
I remember getting Touchstone and being thrilled that I had this lovely part at the Royal Shakespeare Company...it felt so exciting to be going to Stratford...and then thinking 'What the hell do you do with this?' 

On being cast as Hamlet
It felt like it remains the high water mark....If there's a chance you might have a shot at it you don't want to regret not having had a go. So yes, it was always there as something one hopes to be asked to do...it was sort of now or never.
It comes with fierce expectation. It's thrilling to be given your shot, but I don't thing you anticipate that when you excitedly accept the job, you don't really think forward to the week before you open with the articles in The Guardian comparing the Hamlets of the last 25 years: 'Will he be any good?'

On letting go of Hamlet
At the time it was quite stressful. Every night felt like a mountain and every night you felt you were still being tested. It attracts so much attention, it got so much scrutiny, that there was a great release in a way...I remember getting through it, feeling hugely proud I'd done it, being delighted it had gone reasonably well, thinking thank goodness I'm through it, I did something I always wanted to do, I achieved it, we're there, I can move on. But it's definitely one of those parts, because it's such a great part and it's such a great play, once the rawness of the tension evaporates a little, you do look back with envy on that role, that part and those words and that play, because there's not much that's as good, there's not much that's as fulfilling. 

On mementos
Quite close to opening [Richard II] we got a message from Maroussia Richardson, who is Ian Richardson's widow, to say that she had the ring that Ian Richardson had worn as Richard II. I think it was because he, as far as she was aware, was the last Scot to have played Richard II at Stratford, and therefore, as the next Scot to be playing Richard II at Stratford, she would like to give me the ring. Which was very moving. And this beautiful little cardboard box arrived with this extraordinary big chunky thing in it. Which was slightly too big for my fingers, so there was one scene where I had hunting gloves on and it fitted perfectly over them. But that was wonderful to be able to wear that. Again, it feels like history's giving you a little help. I never got to meet Ian Richardson, but I feel like we're now bonded in some way. I still have the ring and I now wait for the next Scot to play Richard II at Stratford. 

On the live broadcast of Richard II
I'm glad that we did it...but the act of doing it is scary. I accept that it will happen from now on but I don't relish the night when it will happen if I'm brutally honest. It happens when you've been playing for a while, so you're in the rhythm and you know what it is to be in front of an audience doing that.but then it's another thing to mess your brain up and give you the heebie-jeebies when 50% of acting is about banishing them. 
...But I'm glad we found a way of preserving theatrical performances that still feels like theatre. 

Click here for more information about future Talking Shakespeare events.