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Helen Hunt embraces the feel of prose, verse in 'Shakespeare Uncovered' on PBS

Helen Hunt embraces language of Shakespeare
Credit: Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Helen Hunt spoke about hosting an episode of PBS's 'Shakespeare Uncovered' Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

PASADENA, Calif. — Helen Hunt finds Shakespeare's words irresistible and she wants to share her excitement with viewers.

The Oscar winner, one of the actors hosting in the upcoming Season 3 of PBS' Shakespeare Uncovered (2018), said the way the verse and prose flow has meaning, much as the content of the words does.

"The form is reflecting the content. If you read (the tragedy) King Lear as it's meant to be read, it sounds like a storm is brewing," she told writers Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "Forget how clever the choice of words are. The rhythm builds a storm as you speak it."

Hunt will host an episode focusing on the comedy Much Ado About Nothing, in which she played Beatrice. (After the session, the actress declined to answer a question about the potential revival of her 1990s TV comedy, Mad About You.)

In addition to Hunt, Season 3 hosts and the plays they explore include F. Murray Abraham (The Merchant of Venice); Brian Cox (Julius Caesar); Simon Russell Beale (The Winter's Tale); and Romola Garai (Measure for Measure). A host has yet to be announced for an episode about Richard III.

In Much Ado, dialogue between antagonists and eventual lovers Beatrice and Benedick reflects the change in their relationship, she said.

"They speak pretty much like we're speaking now. It's very modern until (they fall) in love and then, 'There is nothing in the world I love so much as you,' " she said. "The way (Shakespeare) used prose so that the two of them were talking to each other the way I talk to Tom Hanks in a romantic comedy, until they give it up and are in love and then — 'What fires in mine eyes' — suddenly, they're lovers speaking poetry. I find that irresistible."

Hunt remembers being drawn to Shakespeare years ago when she saw Meryl Streep and Raul Julia perform The Taming of the Shrew, She enjoyed getting to film part of her Much Ado episode in the garden at Shakespeare's birthplace in England. 

"Getting to be there with the play in my hand was wonderful."