By Adam B. Vary
April 07, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Playing the What if? game with major historical figures is always fun. What if Abraham Lincoln hunted vampires? What if Hitler was killed in a French movie house? What if William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet while in the throes of an impossible romance with a woman betrothed to another man? Or what if Shakespeare never wrote anything at all?

That last what if is the premise of Anonymous (out Sept. 30), the historical thriller directed by Roland Emmerich that operates under the long-discussed theory that another man, Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), wrote the great works credited to William Shakespeare. While Emmerich’s past relationship with historical fiction has leaned much closer to fiction than history (10,000 B.C., The Patriot, heck, even Stargate), at the very least he’s landed a cast boasting all kinds of theatrical bone fides: Rhys Ifans as De Vere, David Thewlis as William Cecil, and Joely Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave as the younger and older Queen Elizabeth I. Heck, even Shakespearean luminary Derek Jacobi makes an appearance in a present day prologue. Check out the full trailer below: