Teaching Shakespeare to a toddler

Video link. Actor Brian Cox attempts to teach Shakespeare's most famous soliloquy to Theo, age 2 1/2. (Thanks, Lisa Mumbach!)


  1. This is so awesome!

    I like Brian Cox a lot before for his acting (check out his far superior portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Michael Mann’s “Manhunter”) and his support of anti-violence against women organisations, but this has put a little cherry on top.

    And that kid, for two and a half, is amazing! The gesticulation and everything!

    1. How can you knock Anthony Hopkins like that? I’ve seen Manhunter… Not that great.

      And watch your double negatives. :-)

      1. Presumably the double negative you’re referring to is “anti-violence against women”?

        I’m guessing that people understand what that means, but also, I don’t think there’s a clearer way to say that. “anti-gender violence” doesn’t quite say the same thing.

        Anyway, Cox is way cooler than Hopkins. So there.

    1. Hey, just to let you know Brian Cox is a Scottish actor, he is not English!! There is a BIG difference :)

      1. I think newtomato was talking about the CHILD’s accent, not Brian Cox.

        Brian Cox is from Dundee, Scotland, and the child is quite clearly English (or at least has a very clear English accent, like his mother).

    1. @4, nah, you would just have to keep switching out the kids as they got tired. and there would be a TON of “um um…cue!”

  2. Sorry, but Manhunter was terrible. Cox’s Lecter was interesting, but no where near as compelling as Hopkin’s portrayal.
    Tom Noonan was good, though.

    1. Sorry, but Manhunter is pretty awesome. It’s cheesy, yes, but very creepy and I’ll take Cox’s measured, restrained Lecter over Hopkins’ scenery-chewing twitchy mess any day.

  3. Wonderful! My mother used to have my sister and me quote lines from various Shakespeare plays, but I think we were a bit older, maybe 4 and 5. She used to have us say to strangers “I see thy nose, but not the dog I shall throw it to.”

    Brian Cox is the bee’s knees. :-)

  4. Did Silence Of The Lambs have In A Gadda Da Vida? EH?! Sure it had the dude dancing with his junk squeezed between his legs but that is no Iron Butterfly. Sorry.

    Manhunter FTW.


  5. Reminds me immediately of The Golden Globe by John Varley, a thoroughly wonderful novel chronicling the travels of an insane ex child actor hitching and stowing across the solar system in the 24th century. His father would make him recite Shakespeare endlessly, holding his head under water to near drowning if he got a line wrong.

    Wonderful book, one of my favorites. Varley’s other stuff, not so much (except for Steel Beach)

  6. Yes, I think I’ve worked out how they managed to get him to reproduce the British accent so well.

    They’re in fucking Britain.

  7. I do this with my 2 year old. Only I get him to recite Snoop Dogg songs. Clearly I need to class it up.

    1. @#22, thank goodness I’m not the only (what’s a word that sounds better than dysfunctional?) parent out there. My son was about 2 when I bought Jay & Bob Strike Back.

      Not only did he end up saying “Applesauce, b*tch” to me (thought it was funny), but he sang the whole rap that Jay does in the beginning of the film (look it up if you don’t know, it’s bad), in the middle of a crowded grocery store (not so funny then, still it was funny later).

  8. My kids are 7, 5 and 3 now and I’ve had them quoting Shakespeare since they could speak. We sing Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee”) as a night time lullaby, as well as the “What a piece of work is man” speech from Hair. But they also know a fair bit of Midsummer, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and others. I once saw my 3yr old son walk up to his playmate and say “To be or not to be, Eric?” and was confused when Eric did not respond with, “That is the question” as he knows I will do.

    I’ve never been able to get them to recite back at will like on this video, though. I’m jealous.

    Audio of my kids doing Shall I compare thee, they would have been 5 and 3 at the time:


  9. All I ever did was train my little ones to shout out inappropriate things when being read common children’s books. The big payoff was when my 3 year old was in a group of kids and someone was reading “Hop On Pop.” When the reader got to “All fall. Fall off the wall” and showed the picture to the children, my son shouted, “Oh no! They’ll be killed!”

    Fatherhood rules.

  10. First, Michael Mann’s Manhunter is infintely superior than the remake ‘Red Dragon’ with Hopkins and Ed Norton. Manhunter captures the tension and mood of the story, and William Petersen is infinitely more believable as a veteran cop with deep scars, both internal and external. the Cox vs. Hopkins debate is apples and oranges. Cox is perfect for the older film. Hopkins is broader, yes, but Silence of the Lambs was a broader, more open film. The later ‘Lecter’ films are all hackwork, with Hopkins chewing the scenery and cashing the check. But hey, work is work.

    the totally unselfconcious infection the kid gives the line on his own is fabulous. “That IS the question!” He’s just realized it! Oh my gosh! I’ve seen Hamlet many times, and never seen an actor give it that sort of reading.

    What a great video.

    For more of Brian Cox being quietly meanacing, I reccomend L.I.E.

  11. It would be much more useful to teach a toddler to exclaim “I think I doth protest too much!” during tantrums.

  12. This is glorious. I laughed so much and the tears rolled out of my eyes. Later I applauded. What a work is a child!

  13. Brilliant! Bravo! Now teach me, I’m 56 and probably not as capable but, I’ll give it a whirl..so sweet, thank you..Mary

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