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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?


Harvey Weinstein asked Ben Affleck to play William Shakespeare but he declined, and played Edward Alleyn instead. See more »


William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet is generally thought to have been performed for the first time in 1595 or 1596. Shakespeare in Love has it performed in 1593, but this is part of the "secret history" which the film is "discovering". 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 »


Featured in SexTV: We Want You!/The Bedtrick/Saucy Stitchwork (2006) 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

Impressive spin on Shakespeare, with a contemporary feel
13 January 1999 | by (Fargo, North Dakota) – See all my reviews

Tom Stoppard, who penned Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, knows a thing or two about the modern deconstruction and reconstruction of Shakespeare's work -- and it shows in the bright and vivid Shakespeare in Love, which Stoppard co-wrote with Marc Norman. Applying many of the same conventions favored by Shakespeare in his own work (including primarily the confusion over mistaken identity and gender) the screenwriters begin with the "what if" premise and run with it, speculating with wicked delight on the Bard's rivalry with Christopher Marlowe, his use of overheard phrases finding their way into his plays, and best of all, the possible sources of his inspiration. Will's muse is Violet, played wonderfully by Gwyneth Paltrow, who shows off in this film her finest acting to date and credibly pulls off the tricky task of being both an object of poetic inspiration and a genuine, down-to-earth human being.

39 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Is the story based on Shakespeare's life? blondie_96
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