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Thu, Mar 26, 2009
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Heart-throb in S'pore

by Victoria Barker

THE star-studded cast of the play The Winter's Tale certainly have personality.

And at a press conference yesterday at Swissotel The Stamford hotel to promote the Shakespearean play which starts today at the Esplanade, Hollywood heart-throb Ethan Hawke and veteran Irish thespian Sinead Cusack especially were in fine form.

Cusack, 61, drew out the lighter side of Hawke, 38, the star of movies such as Gattaca (1997) and Training Day (2001).

When my paper asked Hawke - who flew in from the United States on Tuesday at 5am - about his impressions of Singapore, the actor responded non-committally at first, saying he had "yet to see anything I can base an opinion on".

'Hang on, Ethan, what did we see last night?' Cusack - the wife of influential British actor Jeremy Irons - interjected cheekily. She then revealed that the cast had made a trip to the Night Safari on Tuesday evening.

'Well, it was the nicest zoo I've ever been to,' Hawke, looking dapper in a grey three-piece suit, admitted with a boyish grin.

He and Cusack were joined by British actress Rebecca Hall, 26, at the press conference for the Sam Mendes-directed play.

Hall plays Hermione, a queen who is accused by her husband, King Leontes, of adultery. British actor Simon Russell Beale, 48, plays Leontes while Cusack is in the role of Hermione's faithful servant.

Hawke - who broke out as a kid actor in the 1985 film Explorers and later became famous after his role as a shy student in cult classic Dead Poet's Society (1989) - takes a comedic turn in the dramedy as Autolycus, a mischief-and music-making thief.

The ex-husband of Kill Bill actress Uma Thurman also warmed up to show his funny side at the press conference.

'(My performance) was really influenced by Britney Spears,' Hawke - who is now married to Ryan Shawhughes, who was once the nanny for his two kids with Thurman - deadpanned cheekily, when asked about the songs he performs in the play.

Jokes aside, what the cast is really looking forward to is seeing how their Asian audience will receive them.

Hall, who was seen last year in the steamy Woody Allen flick Vicky Cristina Barcelona, said: 'It's very exciting to see what the reaction is going to be like, and what the response will be. It's a great way to explore different cultures and bring some of ours.'

As for Hawke, giving the Bard a new lease of life is equally important.

'It's very difficult to do Shakespeare well. When it is done well, you see it is actually easy, fun and joyous,' he said passionately.

vbarker@sph.com.sg

The Bridge Project - The Winter's Tale runs from today till next Tuesday at the Esplanade Theatre. Tickets from $40 to $325 are available through Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or tel: 6348-5555).


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