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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tim Blake Nelson
Produced by Eric Gitter
Lisa Gitter
Written by
Brad Kaaya (based on Shakespeare's play "Othello")
Starring Mekhi Phifer
Josh Hartnett
Andrew Keegan
Julia Stiles
Rain Phoenix
Elden Henson
Martin Sheen
John Heard
Music by Jeff Danna
Cinematography Russell Lee Fine
Editing by Kate Sanford
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
Release date(s) August 31, 2001
Running time 95 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Gross revenue $19,210,835

O is a 2001 drama film, and a loose modern adaption of William Shakespeare's Othello.

The film's intended release date coincided with the Columbine High School massacre, so the film was shelved. It was finally released later in 2001. It was directed by Tim Blake Nelson and written by Brad Kaaya. It contains many different styles of music, ranging from rap to opera. It was filmed in South Carolina.

Told in a contemporary high school setting, Othello is now Odin (Mekhi Phifer), star of the basketball team and the school's only African American student. Desdemona is Desi (Julia Stiles), the dean's daughter and Odin's girlfriend. Iago is Hugo (Josh Hartnett), the coach's steroid-addicted son, who plants seeds of doubt that fester in Odin's mind, leading them all to a tragically violent fate. Roderigo is Roger (Elden Henson), Hugo's best friend, a rich but troubled student who wants to go out with Desi. Cassio is Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan), another basketball player and a close friend to both Odin and Desi. Emilia is Emily (Rain Phoenix), Desi's best friend and Hugo's girlfriend. Brabantio is Dean Brable (John Heard), the president of the school and Desi's father. The duke of Venice is the basketball coach, also known as Duke (Martin Sheen). Bianca (Rachel Schumate) is Brandy, Michael's love interest.


The film starts during a basketball game. At the last minute Odin scores the basket that wins the game for his team. Later at an awards ceremony Duke presents the MVP award to Odin for his efforts, an award he shares with Michael. At a party celebrating the victory, Hugo plans with Roger to tell Desi's father that Odin raped her in order to split them up so that Roger can woo her. Roger, however, is only a pawn in Hugo's ultimate plan to destroy Odin.

Later in another game Odin's team wins once again. At the celebration party, Hugo engineers a fight between Roger and a very drunk Michael, who is temporarily suspended from the team. Hugo tells Michael to ingratiate himself with Desi so that she will talk to Odin on his behalf. Soon afterward, Hugo tells Odin that Desi and Michael have been spending a lot of time together, and that she may be cheating on him. Odin doesn't believe this at first but, as he constantly sees Michael and Desi together, he starts to suspect them. Odin questions Desi, but she calms him down and he believes her. In the meantime, Hugo manipulates Emily into stealing a scarf for him that Odin had given to Desi. Hugo, in turn, gives it to Michael in hopes that Odin will believe that Desi gave Michael the scarf, and so is cheating on him.

Meanwhile, Desi and Odin are having passionate sex at a motel. During their lovemaking, Odin sees an image of Michael on top of Desi in the mirror; angered, he becomes very rough with Desi, to the point that she cries out for him to stop, a plea he ignores. Afterward, they lie together staring in opposite directions. At about this time Odin, a recovering cocaine addict, starts using again to numb his fear of losing Desi.

After a volatile game in which Odin assaults a ball boy, Hugo tells Odin about the scarf, convincing him that Desi is cheating on him. Enraged, Odin vows to kill her; Hugo then promises to kill Michael.

Hugo, with Odin and Roger, plans to kill Michael and Desi. Hugo and Roger attempt to kill Michael in a carjacking, but it does not go as planned: Roger and Michael struggle, Hugo hits Michael with a crowbar, Roger shoots Michael in the leg, and then Hugo shoots Roger.

Odin and Desi are in a room talking and Odin is pretending to make up with her. Odin grabs Desi and throws her on the bed. Desi starts to scream for help, but Odin strangles her in a drug-induced rage. Emily rushes into the room and sees Desi's body; she soon finds out what Hugo has done. She begins telling Odin that Hugo told her to steal the scarf and exposes his plot. Hugo tells her to shut up, but she refuses, so he shoots and kills her. Odin finally realizes that Hugo has been manipulating him the entire time, and demands to know why; Hugo refuses to answer. When the police arrive, Odin tells them what happened, and commits suicide. The story ends with Hugo being taken into police custody, saying (in voice over) that he will have his day in the spotlight.


Character in Othello Character in O Actor
Othello Odin James Mekhi Phifer
Iago Hugo Goulding Josh Hartnett
Desdemona Desi Brable Julia Stiles
Michael Cassio Michael Cassio Andrew Keegan
Emilia Emily Rain Phoenix
Roderigo Roger Calhoun Elden Henson
Duke of Venice Coach Duke Goulding Martin Sheen
Brabantio Dean Bob Brable John Heard
Bianca Brandy Rachel Shumate

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