In the mood for some throwback drama? Cool, settle in because apparently the production on 1998's Shakespeare in Love was kinda a mess! Turns out Julia Roberts was originally cast as Viola de Lesseps—a role which which eventually went to Gwyneth Paltrow. And producer Edward Zwick just rehashed why Julia departed the movie in an essay for AirMail, via Variety, saying the studio was initially super excited about her being cast. To the point where, “The mere possibility of having the Pretty Woman wearing a corseted gown got the studio excited enough to cough up the dough."
The thing is, Julia was fully obsessed with the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis playing Shakespeare, even asking “for two dozen roses to be sent to Daniel Day-Lewis, along with a card that read: 'Be my Romeo.'" Alas, DDL was committed to other projects, and a disappointed Julia ended up doing a chemistry read with with Ralph Fiennes (who was eventually cast).
“Even as Ralph did his best to elicit the famous smile, Julia barely acknowledged him,” Edward said, per Variety. “I’m not suggesting she was deliberately sabotaging, but it was a disaster nonetheless. I tried to catch Ralph’s eye to apologize as he left but he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After he was gone, I turned to Julia, awaiting her reaction. ‘He isn’t funny’ is all she said.”
Julia went on to do chemistry tests with a ton of other actors (including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Sean Bean, to name a few), but things took a turn when she did a reading with Paul McGann.
“On the morning of the test, Julia emerged from makeup, looking radiant in full period costume,” Edward recalled. “But once she began to say the words, something was wrong. There was no magic. The problem wasn’t the script. Or Paul McGann. It was Julia. From the moment she began to speak it was clear she hadn’t been working on the accent.”
Apparently, Edward tried to be "encouraging," but Julia quit the next morning, with a manager simply saying “Julia had flown back to the U.S. and that she was leaving the project.” At this point, Universal had already spent $6 million.
“I’ve never spoken to Julia again,” Edward said. “Instead, I’ve observed from afar as her work grew in depth and stature. I bear her no ill will. She was a frightened 24-year-old. I wasn’t much older, trying to act the grown-up as I watched the Globe Theatre torn down. And with it my dreams of grandeur.”
I mean....THE DRAMA.2023-03-07T14:48:54Z dg43tfdfdgfd