Transgender Shakespeare: ‘Billions’ Star Asia Kate Dillon to Co-Star with Daniel Craig in Broadway’s ‘Macbeth’

Actor Asia Kate Dillon attends the world premiere of "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" at One Hanson on Thursday, May 9, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth will undergo a partial sex-change operation when a highly anticipated Broadway production starring Daniel Craig opens this spring. Showtime’s Billions star Asia Kate Dillon, who was born female but identifies as non-binary and uses “they / them” pronouns, will play the role of Malcolm, the eldest son of King Duncan.

Macbeth is set to open April 28 at the Longacre Theatre in New York. The cast will also feature Ruth Negga as Lady Macbeth and Paul Lazar as Duncan. Tony Award-winning director Sam Gold — who is known for his post-modern takes on the classics — will stage the production.

Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga arrives for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opening gala on September 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

This will be the first time Asia Kate Dillon will perform on Broadway. The star rose to fame thanks to Billions, in which Dillon plays Taylor Mason, a gender non-binary financial executive. Dillon also had a supporting role in John Wick 3: Parabellum.

While contemporary Shakespeare productions often feature non-traditional casting — gender-swapped roles have become a commonplace stunt — it is rare if not unprecedented for a transgender actor to take a major role in a high-profile staging.

1942: John Gielgud (1904 – 2000) as Macbeth and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies as Lady Macbeth in a production of ‘Macbeth’ at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. (Gordon Anthony/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

None of Shakespeare’s characters is written as transgender, though some characters like Viola in Twelfth Night disguise themselves as the opposite sex. In the Elizabethan era, male actors played all the female roles because women were not allowed to act on stage.

The role of Malcolm in Macbeth is an important one, serving as a primary antagonist to the title character. At the end of the play. Malcolm becomes King of Scotland upon the killing of Macbeth.

The new Broadway production is being produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who are the producers of the James Bond movies.

In 2019, Dillon publicly called for non-gendered acting categories at the Emmys and Screen Actors Guild Awards. But organizers of both shows have retained separated acting categories for men and women.

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