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An update of Shakespeare's 'Othello' with a young cast, set in an upper class prep school, & centered around basketball player Odin.


Tim Blake Nelson


William Shakespeare (play), Brad Kaaya (screenplay)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mekhi Phifer ... Odin James
Martin Sheen ... Coach Duke Goulding
Josh Hartnett ... Hugo Goulding
Andrew Keegan ... Michael
Julia Stiles ... Desi Brable
Rain Phoenix ... Emily
Chris Freihofer ... Assistant Coach
Elden Henson ... Roger
John Heard ... Dean Brable
Anthony Johnson ... Dell (as Anthony 'A. J.' Johnson)
Chris Dong Chris Dong ... Dutchman Player
Rachel Shumate ... Brandy
Marshall Gitter Marshall Gitter ... Radio Announcer
Lisa Benavides-Nelson Lisa Benavides-Nelson ... Ms. Serney (as Lisa Benavides)
Ken French Ken French ... Scout #1


Tough Coach Duke Goulding leaves nothing untried to lead his almost exclusively white boarding school basketball team, the Hawks, to victory after victory, but his own son Hugo feels his polyvalent technical excellence and tireless efforts -which require using stimulants- are not getting anything like the recognition he deserves, especially when coach gives the best player award to Odin James, the only black teammate, even saying he loves Odin like his own son, who in turn only calls super-rich Michael Cassio to share in the honor. So Hugo, who is liked by everyone, decides to set up the boys who stole his glory, and he knows a cocky adolescent's weak points are his pride and his girl. This Dixie Jago schemes to bring down a black Othello and his Cassio, playing into the poisonous power of jealousy, however badly this also hurts their loved ones and the whole team... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everything Comes Full Circle... See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, a scene of strong sexuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

31 August 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Othello See more »

Filming Locations:

Charleston, South Carolina, USA


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,916,625, 2 September 2001, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$16,017,403, 4 November 2001
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Third modern Shakespeare adaptation with Julia Stiles. The others being 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and Hamlet (2000). See more »


Even if Hugo's plan all went as planned, and he succeeded in framing Michael for Desi's death, how does this get revenge on Odin? See more »


[first lines]
Hugo: All my life I always wanted to fly. I always wanted to live like a hawk. I know you're not supposed to be jealous of anything, but... to take flight, to soar above everything and everyone, now that's living.
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Referenced in Lucy (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Modernized Shakespeare at its "best"
19 March 2003 | by phrosty20See all my reviews

The high point of "O" is that its probably the best "modern" adaptation of Shakespeare to date. However, given competition such as "10 Things I Hate About You", its not much of a compliment. Baz Luhrman's "Romeo and Juliet" was a wonderfully artistic movie, but keeping the original dialogue, a risky premise from the outset in a modern background, harmed the flow of the movie, making it seem incongruous. "O" gets it right, adapting modern language to emphatically convey emotion. For those who haven't picked up on it by now, "O" is a modernization of Shakespeare's "Othello".

O is Odin James(Mekhai Phifer), the protagonist, whose good intentions and tragic flaws work against him when provoked. James' fame comes from his incredible prowess on the basketball court. Odin is a knockout NBA prospect and the center of attention wherever he goes, and seems to have everything, including the dean's daughter as his girlfriend, Desi(Julia Stiles). The glory bestowed upon Odin draws ferocious envy one of his friends, Hugo(Josh Hartnett), who plots a scheme playing on Odin's jealous nature to break Odin and Desi up and, in the process, give him some sense of satisfaction. The story that ensues is stellar (naturally, as it is based off of one of Shakespeare's best works). But, as "Othello" is a tragedy, "O" can only come to a tragic end...

I felt the emotional prescence in this movie much more than I expected to, much more than I would have had had the movie toned its violence and sexual imagery down to snag a more desirable PG-13 rating. Phifer is very convincing in his role as Odin, especially in the dunk contest and the sex scene with Julia Stiles, breathing a murderous rage into a character tragically bound to demise despite his better efforts and honesty. His presence drives the movie, his raging jealousy a brash contrast with Hugo's cool and ruthless methods of deception.

I was very pleased that the issue of race wasn't expounded upon in the movie (as I expecting when I saw the first preview). It holds true to Shakespeare's original intention, which pictures Othello as a "Moor", a person with a strange fasion of dress and appearance. I don't believe Shakespeare meant to make an issue or a statement on race in Othello, and, despite what I'm sure was a juicy temptation, the writers hold true to this, except for one comment Odin makes, which makes sense. To ignore the issue would be foolish if making a true modernization of the play, but it never becomes a main focus of the film. The only thing I would change is to not make Hugo such a sympathetic character. Iago (Hugo's counterpart in "Othello") was an insanely evil character, with little reason to feel a bit of pity or sympathy for his deeds and his motives. Hugo's father clearly neglects his own son's well-being in deferrence to Odin, an important plot element in "O" that is absent from "Othello", making Hugo much more pitious than Iago. Also, some of the scenes felt a bit rushed. Other than this, I highly recommend this movie to anyone who can handle it; some of the scenes are very intense. I gave it an 8 out of 10.

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