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Shakespeare in Love (1998)

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A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.


1,947 ( 214)
Won 7 Oscars. Another 56 wins & 86 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim McMullan ...
Frees (as Tim McMullen)
Steven Beard ...
Patrick Barlow ...
Sandra Reinton ...
Bridget McConnell ...
Lady in Waiting (as Bridget McConnel)
Lady in Waiting


Will Shakespeare is a known but struggling poet, playwright and actor who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslow and Richard Burbidge but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps. She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare's works. Dressing as a man and going by the name of Thomas Kent, she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex. As the company rehearses his new play, Will and Viola's love is transferred to the written page leading to the masterpiece that is ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Love is the only inspiration See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shakespeare apasionado  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$224,012 (USA) (11 December 1998)


$100,241,322 (USA) (23 July 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


About six years before the film was finally made, Julia Roberts was cast as Viola and flew to the UK to try to persuade Daniel Day-Lewis to take the part, but he declined in order to do In the Name of the Father (1993), so Universal Studios dropped the project when no suitable alternative was found. Joseph Fiennes was the only actor ever actually cast in the lead role. See more »


One of the main plots involves William Shakespeare creating the story of Romeo & Juliet, making it up as he goes along. In fact, these characters and their basic story were written about before Shakespeare was born, and he was adapting the older tale for the stage. The filmmakers knew this. See more »


[first lines]
Philip Henslowe: [screams in pain]
Hugh Fennyman: Henslowe! Do you know what happens to a man who doesn't pay his debts? His boots catch fire!
Philip Henslowe: [screams]
Hugh Fennyman: Why do you howl when it is I who am bitten?
See more »


Referenced in 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops (2004) See more »


The Play & the Marriage
Written by Stephen Warbeck
Performed by Catherine Bott
Conducted by Nick Ingman
See more »

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User Reviews

What ever happened to "And they lived happily ever after"?
23 November 2003 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Shakespeare in Love, the best picture winner of 1998, I know this film receives a lot of bashing due to that win. I believe that also Saving Private Ryan was nominated, which it was also an incredible film. To be honest, I couldn't pick between the two, because both were wonderful films and completely different genres. But anyways, back onto Shakespeare in Love. Everything about this film was perfect and I think that's why it received so many Oscar nods and wins, I mean, the costumes, the acting, the sets, the story was absolutely terrific and wonderful to watch. John Madden knew what he was doing and shot this film so beautifully. The cast also seemed to really enjoy doing this film and worked so well together. Gwyneth Paltrow won best actress for this film and she did a terrific job portraying Viola, she was so elegant and touching. The love story between her and William Shakespeare is truly a memorable one.

Viola is a first class lady who is about to be married to Lord Wessex, a man who she does not love. Her heart belongs to poetry, mainly the poetry of William Shakespeare. William has lost all hope though when his heart is broken by his girlfriend and he is writing a comedy called Romeo and Ethyl, the pirate's daughter. Since the plays are only played by an all male cast, Viola dresses up as a man and auditions for his new play. She receives the part of Romeo; later that night at a big party her father is throwing, she meets Shakespeare and it is love at first sight. When William finds out the truth that she is the boy who loves his poetry, he doesn't care, they have a passionate affair and continue on with the play as if she were a boy. But the plot thickens and Viola knows that she must go back to her life of an unwanted love and marriage.

Shakespeare in Love is without a doubt a fine film and should have a higher rating in my book. I don't understand why so many people hate this film, I thought it was extremely clever and witty. It had a beautiful love story, it was funny, it was sad; there's nothing wrong with this film, but hey, everyone's a critic, right? I highly recommend Shakespeare in Love, just trust me, if you enjoy Shakespeare and his poetry, I'm sure you'll love this film. Just give it a chance, who cares about the Oscars? They make mistakes at times, but Shakespeare in Love is a great movie and I enjoyed watching it.


59 of 76 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Slightly OT - Visiting the Globe Theater! CompulsiveMovieQuoter
Is the story based on Shakespeare's life? blondie_96
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This Can't be Said Enough livings14
The ending confused me so much jimmyr5595
I don't get it Topaz12788
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