Edward Zwickwho played a key role in the making of the Oscar-winning romantic comedy Shakespeare in love to life, recently shared a rather revealing story about julia robert.
In a extract from Zwick’s forthcoming memoir published by Graydon Carter’s Air mailthe director has revealed the arduous process of getting the 1998 film off the ground. He claims Roberts was determined to get Daniel Day Lewis act in the movie. When that failed and she struggled in rehearsals and chemistry readings, the actress walked away from the film, costing the studio $6 million in production costs.
According to him, Roberts was attached to the film early in its development, which persuaded Universal Studio to finance the film. “The mere possibility of having the ‘pretty woman’ wearing a corseted dress excited the studio enough to spit the batter,” he wrote. But the rest of the filmmaking process didn’t go so well.
The director claims Roberts told him the first time they met that she had already “decided who should play Shakespeare”. According to her account, the actress was fascinated by having Day-Lewis star opposite her in the film. Zwick, who already had her own list of actors in mind for the role, already knew Lewis was unavailable, but Roberts was sure she could convince him. She reportedly asked for two dozen roses to be sent to Lewis, along with a card that read “Be my Romeo.”
Zwick explained that it didn’t stop there. He organized a series of chemistry readings for Roberts with a “wonderful crop of actors” he met in London which included Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, and more. But she told him to cancel that casting day because Lewis was going to do the movie.
The only chemistry readings Roberts attended were with Ralph Fienneswhich Zwick described as “clumsy” and Paul McGann.
“There was no magic. The problem wasn’t the script. Or Paul McGann. It was Julia,” he said. “From the moment she started speaking, it was clear she hadn’t worked on the accent.” Roberts reportedly returned to the United States shortly thereafter, as Zwick was unable to reach her the next day.
The studio had already invested $6 million in building sets, securing locations and making costumes. But with Roberts out of production, Shakespeare in love was dead in the water.
That is, until Gwyneth Paltrow have expressed interest in playing the lead role, reviving Miramax and by Harvey Weinstein interest in the movie. Paltrow went on to win an Oscar for her performance as Viola de Lesseps.
Regarding Roberts and her controversial decision to leave the film, Zwick acknowledges that it was a particularly sensitive time for the actress as she was fresh off her success in A pretty woman.
But, he writes, “I don’t blame him. She was a scared 24-year-old girl.