Back to Shakespeare’s Characters
Romeo & Juliet is a play that talks about young people, members of two powerful families of Verona.
I think this is one of the reasons why it’s still such a modern story nowadays and can be adapted to different places, not only in Italy.
So the actors chosen to play them are usually young and dishy, even if more mature performers played him, like in ballet or old movies.
Despite Romeo and Juliet are two sweet characters, my favorite in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend. Cheerful, friendly, dreamer, but cheeky, rebel and fickle, he dies young pronouncing deadly words. Perfect to be one hero of mine.
I always found crazy that he dies because Romeo holds him while he’s fighting against Tybalt! You silly little thing, you, Romeo! R.I.P!
So here a list of some actors and actresses who played Mercutio in some versions of Romeo and Juliet (in chronological order from older to newest).
It an’t be exhaustive, of course, because the role was played so many times, so I post just my favorites or those I find curious!
Read also a collection of all Mercutio’s speeches: opensourceshakespeare.org
1990s – I saw “Romeo and Juliet” in a Prokoviev’s Ballet version two times in my town, but I can’t find the name of the dancers who played Mercutio. The first was a Russian stage version, the second was a ballet with Raffaele Paganini called “Giulietta e Romeo”, because they focused on Juliet mostly. In this second version, the dancer who played Mercutio was the one who got more applauses.
2006 – Mercutio played by Jamie Ballard, with Balthasar played by John Heffernan – The RSC, I wish I saw this version!
2012 – “Mercuzio non vuole morire” (Mercutio doesn’t want to die) by/with Armando Punzo, and the Compagnia della Fortezza, made of convictes of the Carcere of Volterra.
Video on YouTube
2013 – Simon Lennon as Mercutio in “Romeo + Juliet” by Paul Roseby, adaptation of Lolita Chakrabarti’s TV documentary “When Romeo Met Juliet”. Tybalt was played by the actress Sophie Ellerby (left).
See my report on seeing it at the V&A Archive
2016 Derek Jacobi performed as Mercutio opposite Lily James as Juliet and Richard Madden as Romeo for the Branagh Theatre, from 12 May 2016 until 13 August 2016 at the Garrick Theatre. Maybe a peculiar but interesting choice. The age of Mercutio wasn’t revealed, as far as I know…
1936 – John Barrymore as Mercutio in “Romeo And Juliet” by George Cukor
1968 – John McEnery as Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” by Franco Zeffirelli
1978 – Anthony Andrews as Mercutio in “Romeo & Juliet” by Alvin Rakoff
1994 – Ben Daniels as Mercutio in “Romeo & Juliet” by Alan Horrox
1996 – Harold Perrineau as Mercutio in “Romeo + Juliet” by Baz Luhrmann
2013 – Christian Cooke as Mercutio in “Romeo & Juliet” by Carlo Carlei
There was a female version played by an actress called Sophie Bell, but haven’t found a picture, yet. The movie is 2012 “R and J: The True Story” by Christopher D. Turner.
There are some versions where Mercutio is just a voice, like in 1990 “Romeo.Juliet” by Armondo Linus Acosta (John Hurt as Mercutio), or Japanese anime 2007 “Romio x Jurietto”.
(to be continued)