“The Tempest” was William Shakespeare’s final effort. Now, creative genius Julie Taymor infuses this legendary tale with her wildly imaginative and dynamic touch. For those who always thought that the work of the bard was too out of their reach or understanding, think again. This story is Shakespeare that anyone can follow.

The story unfolds when the members of a royal court are washed ashore a deserted island after a gruesome storm. Unbeknownst to the men, they are there for a reason. A determined sorceress named Prospera (Academy Award winner Helen Mirren) has magically summoned them to her home in order to exact payback for having been banished to the island years earlier. Prospera puts her revenge plot into motion, utilizing the trickery of her spirit assistant, Ariel (Ben Whishaw), and the naiveté of the island’s slave inhabitant, Caliban (Djimon Hounsou). She quickly and mercilessly begins to drive the shipwrecked men crazy with her bag of tricks.

Prospera’s behavior even has collateral damage when it carries over onto two drunken fools (Russell Brand, Alfred Molina) who get caught up in her web of deceit. Sadly for Prospera, it is her scheming that will be her undoing when the king’s son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney) meets and falls in love with her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones).

The film’s core romance has been making critics’ tongues wag. Jones, who is well known in her native Great Britain, lights up the screen opposite newcomer Carney. When not acting, Carney is a musician. He has opened for Jonny Lange and the Veronicas. Taymor was so impressed with him that she asked him to audition for The Tempest. The two are also working together on the Broadway adaptation of “Spider-Man.”

For the other stars of The Tempest, working with Taymor was also a huge draw. The director has been at the helm of some of the most electrifying films of this generation, including Frida and Across the Universe. Brand, in particular, was thrilled to be considered for such a challenging role.

“I was very flattered to be in anything directed by Julie Taymor,” he says enthusiastically. “I mean, if she’d asked me to be in an elevator, I’d do it.”

Hounsou is proud of the work he and his co-stars created, but admits he was intimidated by the audition process. The Academy Award nominee had auditioned for Taymor on another project, but felt discouraged afterward. This time around, he received encouragement from an unlikely source: the fashion world.

“My wife [designer Kimora Lee Simmons] was, like, ‘No, you’ve got to take the meeting. You’ve got-to-take-the-meeting.’”

Once on set, Hounsou felt at home with the other talent.

“Wow, what an experience,” he says. “It was a wonderful experience for me. I had Helen to play against. I had Russell to make me laugh.”

Each scene with Mirren erupts with fire. Mirren battles each of her male co-stars and stands up against them with great ease. She even manages to soften in her role as a doting mother to a teenager experiencing the pangs of love for the first time. This is especially noteworthy considering Mirren is portraying a character originally written for a man. In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Prospera is actually Prospero. Taymor knew she would need a woman who could be tough like a man without losing any of the play’s central themes. “Working it out well starts with people who can act those roles,” says Taymor.

Renowned stage and screen actor Alan Cumming (Sebastian) agrees.

“There’s technical things you have to do differently, but in your heart and in your core, it’s still the same [story].”

Mirren has been vocal about the experience and found a surprising kinship with Brand during filming. The two will even appear together in the upcoming remake of Arthur. Although her stately performances in The Queen and the “Elizabeth I” miniseries have garnered her international praise, Mirren still sits in wonder of the creative process. With so many contemporary actresses obsessed with the next script or with the roles given to other performers, she keeps a cool head about her when it comes to next steps.

“I never have a wish list. I never even imagined this project would happen,” she says.