NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Daniel Craig is veering from James Bond to Shakespeare.
The 53-year-old English actor, who has said that his tenure as Bond will come to an end with the release of No Time To Die, plans to return to Broadway next year to star in the title role of Macbeth.
Famous for his film career, especially as the rakish spy, Craig is also an accomplished stage actor. He has starred in two previous Broadway plays, the 2009 production of A Steady Rain and a 2013 revival of Betrayal.
And he played the villainous Iago in a 2016 off-Broadway production of William Shakespeare's Othello at New York Theatre Workshop, opposite actor David Oyelowo in the title role.
In the Macbeth production, actress Ruth Negga will play his wife, Lady Macbeth.
Negga, known for the TV show Preacher (2016 to 2019) and the film Loving (2016), last year played the title role in Hamlet (yes, a woman played Hamlet; Negga had also previously played Ophelia) in an off-Broadway production at St Ann's Warehouse.
The lead producer for the Broadway production will be Ms Barbara Broccoli, who has a long collaboration with Craig: She and her brother produce the Bond films, and they also co-produced A Steady Rain and supported the nonprofit Othello production.
Ms Broccoli said she had been talking with Craig about Macbeth for several years, ever since he expressed an interest in playing the role.
"I'm thrilled that it's coming after Bond, because, obviously, after 16 years of working with this man, the thought of it all coming to an end has been really difficult to take," she said.
"And so it's really heartwarming for me that we're going to be working on something else so soon after the wrapping up of his James Bond cycle."
Ms Broccoli said that she and Craig also thought it was important to stage the play this season, as Broadway seeks to recover after a long shutdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's been a horrendous 18 months for everyone, and live theatre has been damaged tremendously," she said.
"He really wants to come back and be on the stage and encourage people to come back to Broadway - it's important to all of us from a cultural point of view and from a social point of view."
Macbeth is scheduled to run for 15 weeks, beginning previews on March 29 and opening on April 28 at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre.
The production is to be directed by Sam Gold, who also directed the off-Broadway Othello in which Craig appeared, and who in 2019 directed a Broadway revival of King Lear.
The production will feature original music by Gaelynn Lea.
There have been 47 previous Broadway productions of Macbeth, according to the Internet Broadway Database; the most recent was in 2013, starring Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff.
Ms Broccoli is also the lead producer of Sing Street, a musical that was scheduled to begin performances on Broadway in March 2020 but never did because of the pandemic.
She said she still plans to bring the show to Broadway but was not ready to say when.
"We love the show and we're trying to figure out the best way to bring it back," she said.