The 1996 version of Hamlet, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, has a number of high-profile actors in minor roles who were only in one or two scenes. A few that stand out to me (descriptions from Wikipedia):
- Robin Williams as Osric, the Elsinore courtier sent by Claudius to invite Hamlet to participate in the duel with Laertes.
- Billy Crystal as the First Gravedigger, a sexton digging Ophelia's grave who makes a case as to why she should not receive Christian burial before making quick dialogue with Hamlet. He later presents the skull of Yorick to Hamlet, not knowing of Hamlet's history with the jester.
- Judi Dench as Hecuba, the Queen of Troy and wife of Priam, played in flashback during the Player King's speech.
When I was watching the film, I couldn't see these actors as their characters because there wasn't enough about the characters to latch on to. So it seemed to me like Hamlet talking with Robin Williams, not Orsic. I understand that some critics felt the same way as well.
Why was this casting decision made?