Karen Knapstein
October 21, 2011



Like a lot of good English majors, an opportunity to revisit a classic in a fun way is always welcome.

Which is why the new movie, Anonymous (out on Friday, the 28th!) was intriguing when I first saw an ad for it, but impossible to resist when the marketing team for the movie approached Channel One about posting a video they’d created on the site. When we said, “sure, we like Shakespeare, and teens have a tendency to struggle with it so anytime there’s a chance to make it more accessible, we’ll go for it,” they upped the ante with an offer to let us interview the director, Roland Emmerich.

As a huge fan of disaster movies, that was also something I had to take them up on. Emmerich also directed “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012.”

Without further commentary, then, here’s what we asked and how he answered. You can also watch the video about the movie below and decide for yourself if there are enough reasons to question Shakespeare’s legitimacy as an author. But I’ve got to say, the one about notes to his family sort of has me convinced…

C1: How did you become interested in William Shakespeare’s (possibly theoretical) life?

Emmerich: Honestly, through the script. Didn’t grow up studying Shakespeare too much in Germany where the focus was more on Goethe and Schiller.

C1: In the United States, it’s common for students to have trouble understanding Shakespeare’s work because of the differences in language between now and then. Do German students study Shakespeare? Do they have similar challenges?

Emmerich: Absolutely. Shakespeare’s texts are rich in contemporary allusions and contain so many layers of meaning that interpretation can be perilous, particularly 400 years later.

C1: What kind of research did you do for the film?

Emmerich: Read up on all angles, first online mainly and then every major book on the market from all sides. I always read much and, although not a scholar, I still learned a whole lot about the topic.

C1: Do you have any other pet conspiracy theories?

Emmerich: Yes, everything surrounding JFK’s death, if you still consider that a conspiracy theory. I have a script surrounding JFK and a theory that’s different from what we all were taught about his death.

C1: Many of your previous films have been large-scale blockbusters with lots of special effects – we imagine “Anonymous” will not be. Was it more or less of a challenge than dealing with big effects?

Emmerich: Not true. A lot of VFX, just a different kind. It was about recreating rather than destroying. The challenge was to find enough research material to recreate London of that time accurately.

C1: What kinds of films and TV shows do you enjoy?

Emmerich: Usually smaller indie movies and I don’t watch TV.

C1: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring filmmakers?

Emmerich: Stay true to what you want yourself to do and don’t do what others expect or want you to do.

*Please note: though we often work with Sony on paid campaigns, this blog post is not sponsored*

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