It’s not often that Ticketmaster gets to meet bona fide monarchs and, although technically speaking Prince Hal isn’t real life royalty, meeting Alex Hassell who plays him in this Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry IV Parts I & II is regal enough for us.
You are currently starring as Prince Hal in the RSC production of Henry IV Parts I and II, what attracted you to this role?
The fact that it’s really, really difficult! When I first read it I had no idea what he was up to and I still don’t! What he does and the question of why he might do what he does are kind of mystifying so I liked the look of the challenge.
Are there any similarities between Prince Hal and yourself?
I think when I was younger I kind of feared the possibility that I might have stuff to offer the world. I think I felt troubled by the idea that I might be actually good at something and worth something.
What’s it like to work with your co-stars Jasper Britton and Antony Sher?
Wonderful. They’re both so good and so experienced and so different that it keeps me on my toes. I think my job is to respect them and also to try and trip them up. It’s a wonderful challenge to perform at the level that they set.
You have played a number of parts in Shakespeare’s plays, including Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cassio in Othello, what has drawn you to these roles? Is it the style of writing or can you relate to the characters?
Good writing is hard to come by and you can’t really go wrong with Shakespeare. It takes some real work to try to reach the level the language requires. To attempt to be open enough and specific enough to begin to understand it. It’s a privilege.
What is your favourite Shakespeare quote?
A hard question. One that pops into my head a lot is from Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
What do you enjoy most about working on stage?
The ‘liveness’. The real connection with real people in real time. The risk of failure. The fact that it can be different every time because you’re different every time.
What role do you see yourself playing in five years’ time?
Macbeth, I hope.
Catch Alex Hassell as Prince Hal for yourself at the Barbican Theatre in Henry IV Parts I & II here.
All images: Kwame Lestrade