Paul Mescal to Play Young William Shakespeare in New Film from Oscar-Winning “Nomadland” Director

'Hamnet,' directed by Chloé Zhao, is based on a 2020 novel of the same name by author Maggie O'Farrell

<p>Jeff Spicer/Getty; Universal History Archive/Getty </p> Paul Mescal and William Shakespeare

Jeff Spicer/Getty; Universal History Archive/Getty

Paul Mescal and William Shakespeare

Paul Mescal is taking on the role of the bard in an upcoming movie.

Mescal, 27, is set to play William Shakespeare in an upcoming movie titled Hamnet, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao.

Hamnet is an adaptation of a 2020 novel of the same name by author Maggie O'Farrell; it follows the famed 16th-century playwright's wife, named Agnes in the book, as she contends with William's success in the theatre and their son's sudden death, per a Penguin Random House synopsis. Mescal will costar with Jessie Buckley, who is expected to play Shakespeare's wife, whose name in real life was Anne Hathaway.

"That book – it’s just devastating. I can’t wait," Mescal told British Vogue of the project in a recent interview. "If I told a younger version of myself that this would be [shooting] this year, I wouldn’t believe it."

"I’ve obviously been in a film with Jessie before [2021's The Lost Daughter] but we’ve never shared the screen or a working process together. I think she’s one of our present-day greats," he added of his costar. "And [filmmaker Zhao] is somebody I can’t wait to get in the weeds with, and get into the heads of those characters."

Related: Paul Mescal Reveals Daisy Edgar-Jones Has His Beloved Chain from Normal People

<p>Tristan Fewings/Getty; Mike Marsland/WireImage; Jon Kopaloff/WireImage</p> Paul Mescal, Jessie Buckley and Chloé Zhao

Tristan Fewings/Getty; Mike Marsland/WireImage; Jon Kopaloff/WireImage

Paul Mescal, Jessie Buckley and Chloé Zhao

Deadline first reported that Mescal and Buckley, 34, were in talks to star in the movie back in May 2023. At the time, the outlet described the story as following Agnes "as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her only son, Hamnet."

"The novel charts the emotional, familial and artistic consequences of that loss, bringing to life a human and heart-stopping story as the backdrop to the creation of The Bard’s Hamlet," Deadline wrote at the time.

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Hamnet is filmmaker Zhao's first movie since her 2021 Marvel Studios film Eternals. She rose to prominence in 2021 for her film Nomadland, which starred Frances McDormand and won three awards, including best picture, at that year's 93rd Oscars ceremony. Zhao won best director that year, while McDormand, 66, won best actress.

Related: All of Us Strangers Director Praises Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott's 'Amazing Chemistry' (Exclusive)

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Paul Mescal on Nov. 19, 2022
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Paul Mescal on Nov. 19, 2022

The movie is among a number of projects Mescal has in the works, including the long-awaited sequel to director Ridley Scott's 2000 film Gladiator and Richard Linklater's adaptation of Merrily We Roll Along, which is filming over the course of 20 years and will not be seen for more than two decades from now.

"I love musicals. I’m singing – the whole shebang," Mescal told British Vogue of the latter project. "We’ll be sporadically shooting that over the next 20 years, which is like… it sounds so bizarre even coming out of my own mouth. We’re still in the infancy of it to be totally honest."

Hamnet has not yet entered production.

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