The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0397 Monday, 11 February 2002
From: Richard Burt <
Date: Friday, 8 Feb 2002 12:53:47 -0500
Subject: More on Scotland, PA
Here is one more:
February 8, 2002
Lady Macbeth, Medium Rare
By DAVE KEHR
For Maura Tierney, late of television's "News Radio" and currently of
"E.R.," it's no more Ms. Nice Girl. In "Scotland, Pa.," an independent
film opening today in New York, Ms. Tierney steps away from the
sweetness and affability she's made her trademark to play Lady Macbeth
in an updating of Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy, now set in a fast-food
establishment in the Pennsylvania hinterlands.
"I don't think anyone would have cast me as Pat," Ms. Tierney said,
referring to the new name the character has been given in the script,
"except my husband. He probably sees that part of me every morning."
"Scotland, Pa." was adapted and directed by Billy Morrissette, a
hard-working actor in his own right who happens to be Ms. Tierney's
"I had to sleep with the director for 10 years to get the part," Ms.
Tierney joked over coffee in Los Angeles, "which is probably a record."
The inspiration for Mr. Morrissette's update, Ms. Tierney said, was the
irresistible pun on "Macbeth" and "McDonald's." In the film, Joe McBeth
(James LeGros), a manager at a burger stand owned by Norm Duncan (James
Rebhorn), gives in to the entreaties of his ambitious wife and plots the
takeover of Duncan's kingdom. Things look good for the avaricious couple
until the appearance of a suspicious police lieutenant, Ernie McDuff
"My husband worked at a Dairy Queen when he was in high school and was
fired," Ms. Tierney said, "and I think he's had a chip on his shoulder
For Ms. Tierney, one of the dangers in tackling the project was letting
in too much Shakespeare: "Rather than think about playing Lady Macbeth,
I tried to let that inform the character that Billy wrote. I re-read the
text, and the language is so beautiful that there can be a sentence that
crystallizes the entire play. I tried to use those things as inspiration
and play Pat for herself."
Physical passion, Ms. Tierney said, is what really separates Pat from
her Shakespearean predecessor: "There is no sex in `Macbeth,' which is
weird; it's one of the few plays in which the couple doesn't even refer
to it. So that was completely different, the choice that Billy made to
use sex as a motivating factor.
"Also, the difference in Billy's script is that Pat goes crazy on
screen," Ms. Tierney said. "Lady Macbeth leaves and goes nuts
backstage. Billy chose to put that in front of the audience. It's more
fun for me as an actress, and I definitely get more screen time."
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