"To be or not be, that is the question!" Easily recognized today as one of English literature's most celebrated lines, it was written by William Shakespeare in his classic play, Hamlet...Or so we've been told.

Director Roland Emmerich takes a break from blockbuster science fiction with Anonymous, a period conspiracy thriller about the nobleman whom many historians believe is the secret author behind the works of William Shakespeare. Rhys Ifans stars as the Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere. Long shackled by the machinations of the Elizabethan court, De Vere secretly stages his plays under the moniker Anonymous. These works stir up the past sins of Queen Elizabeth, played by mother and daughter actresses, Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, at different points of her life. The political intrigue takes an unexpected turn when De Vere's work is ruthlessly grafted by an opportunistic actor, William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall).

This subject sets off a firestorm of controversy in literary circles. William Shakespeare advocates, Stratfordians, taken from Stratford Upon Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace, cry heresy at the De Vere conspiracy. However, many who look at William Shakespeare and De Vere's life experiences conclude only De Vere had the education and intellect to be such a sublime writer.

In our exclusive interviews, director Roland Emmerich and his actors, Rhys Ifans and Joely Richardson, discuss stirring the pot and bringing this issue into the mainstream. Roland Emmerich also details the technical challenges of offering ultra-realistic views of London in the 16th Century. The most surprising part of the interview was learning how Rhys Ifans won the lead role. He better get used to the spotlight, as this role is a precursor to his turn as The Lizard in next summer's The Amazing Spider-Man. Check out our interviews below.

Julian Roman