Up 49 this week

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  8 January 1999 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 167,007 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 747 user | 131 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

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.


Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video

Won 7 Oscars. Another 55 wins & 85 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe
Chicago (2002)
Comedy | Crime | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Director: Rob Marshall
Stars: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.

Director: Bruce Beresford
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director: Kevin Costner
Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene
Out of Africa (1985)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 20th-century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer
Rain Man (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Crash I (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton
The Artist I (2011)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The story of the final Emperor of China.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Stars: John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole
Titanic (1997)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind, but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A Mumbai teen, who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
Drama | History | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Director: Hugh Hudson
Stars: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell


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)
Georgie Glen ...
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 | Add 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?


Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth also appear in The King's Speech (2010), another winner of the Best Picture Oscar. Rush received nominations as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for both films. See more »


Near the end the Queen commands Wessex to pay off the wager of 50 pounds which Viola carries in a pouch. At that time, a British pound coin would have contained one troy pound of silver (hence its name). A troy pound weighs approximately 75% of a normal pound, and would therefore mean the sack she is carrying would be very heavy, much heavier than than it appears to be in the movie. 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 Jeopardy!: Episode #26.18 (2009) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

14 February 2003 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Those who are looking for a historically accurate portrayal of Shakespeare's life had better look elsewhere - but then this was never intended to be a serious look at the life of the man. Those who attack it for its' fanciful relation to history have missed the point entirely. It is a romantic comedy obsessed with nothing more than making references in storyline and plot to the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and those references are made so seamlessly it could almost be assumed that what we see on the screen actually happened to the man.

In fact the overall story we are presented with is not new. Anyone who had read or seen `Romeo and Juliet' will have a pretty shrewd idea of the path the narrative takes - the twist is that in the film, Shakespeare writes the play `Romeo and Juliet' in parallel to, and based on, his `real life' relationship with Lady Viola.

The opening sees Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) desperately trying to write the masterpiece `Romeo and Ethel, the Pirates Daughter', a comedy he hopes will rival anything by Christopher Marlow (Rupert Everett). Words fail him until his muse appears in the shape of Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), a noblewoman whose love for the work of Shakespeare's leads her to dress as a boy (since at the time women were not allowed on stage) and attend an audition in disguise (mistaken identity and women dressing as men are devices Shakespeare often used in his comedies). She is given the role of Romeo and begins a forbidden relationship with Shakespeare, the only one who knows her real identity, in spite of the fact that she is betrothed to the villainous Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) at Queen Elizabeth's (Judi Dench) command.

Fiennes portrays Shakespeare wonderfully and not as the infallible master of rhetoric. He takes the Bard from the pedestal and brings him down to a human level that we can all sympathise with. His relationship with Paltrow is handled sensitively, although many of the scenes that are exclusively their own did have enough a little too much `Chick-Flick' for my liking. Paltrow's R.P. accent is technically very good, and though I normally like my English to be played by the English, I was as happily surprised by her performance as I was by Ben Affleck's brief, but memorable portrayal of the self-important Ned Alleyn. Much of the credit, though, must go to Michelle Guish for the wonderful supporting cast including: Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes and Geoffrey Rush, to name but a few.

John Madden directs hypnotically and constantly keeps the camera on the move but most credit for the film must go to Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for their cunning and often self-parodying script. The only comment I would make is regarding the sheer number of theatre references. Those who have worked in the theatre will be aware of many, if not all, of the in-jokes that the film is littered with. Those who have not may be left with the feeling that they have been excluded from much of the content.

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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Little Historical Accuracy nielw
This Can't be Said Enough livings14
The ending confused me so much jimmyr5595
Joseph Fiennes is incredibly sexy. theschwartz18
I don't get it Topaz12788
Discuss Shakespeare in Love (1998) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: