The Reluctant Shakespearean: Frank Langella Keeps a Late Date With Lear

‘I wasn’t old enough to really understand what crawling towards death means’

Frank Langella as King Lear. (Photo by Johan Persson)Lear" />

Frank Langella as King Lear. (Photo by Johan Persson)

Given the power and precision of Frank Langella’s baritone, which served him well when he played Richard Nixon in the award-winning play, then film, Frost/Nixon, it is strange that he has done so little Shakespeare. In the early 1960s, when he was 23, he was Iago to James Earl Jones’ first Othello. In the ’80s, he played Prospero at the Downtown Roundabout. He played Malcolm in Macbeth and was Oberon and Theseus in a Tyrone Guthrie Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mr. Langella, who turned 76 on Jan. 1, is now taking a crack at the granddaddy of Bard roles, King Lear, in a production that opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week. 331314