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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.

Director:

John Madden
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Popularity
2,320 ( 301)
Won 7 Oscars. Another 57 wins & 87 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Geoffrey Rush ... Philip Henslowe
Tom Wilkinson ... Hugh Fennyman
Steven O'Donnell ... Lambert
Tim McMullan Tim McMullan ... Frees (as Tim McMullen)
Joseph Fiennes ... Will Shakespeare
Steven Beard Steven Beard ... Makepeace - the Preacher
Antony Sher ... Dr. Moth
Patrick Barlow Patrick Barlow ... Will Kempe
Martin Clunes ... Richard Burbage
Sandra Reinton Sandra Reinton ... Rosaline
Simon Callow ... Tilney - Master of the Revels
Judi Dench ... Queen Elizabeth
Bridget McConnell Bridget McConnell ... Lady in Waiting (as Bridget McConnel)
Georgie Glen ... Lady in Waiting
Nicholas Boulton ... Henry Condell
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Love is the only inspiration See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shakespeare apasionado See more »

Filming Locations:

Barnes, London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$224,012, 13 December 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$100,317,794

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$289,317,794
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the reasons co-Screenwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard were able to take so many liberties with the script, was that not much is known about William Shakespeare's life between the years 1585 and 1592. See more »

Goofs

In the final credits, the clouds in sky don't move or change shape at all for the whole length of the shot; revealing that a still picture is used in the background. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

The Region 2 DVD contains some deleted scenes:
  • A different end sequence. Here the conversation between Will and Viola is shorter than in the final film. After Viola has left Burbage enters and stops Will from running after Viola. He also takes the 50 pounds and says "Welcome to the Chamberlain's Men". The scene where Lord Wessex's ship sinks is also different. Here we see that Viola survives the drowning and is washed ashore an unknown coast. There she asks two people where she is. Their reply is "This is America".
  • A slightly different version of the scene where Burbank and his men fight against Will and his actors in the theatre. The sequence is largely the same as the scene used in the final film but parts are shown from different angles. A small conversation between Fennyman and Henslowe is added where they discuss about business.
  • A small scene which takes place after Henslowe has announced the audition. Here the two actors John and James walk to the court to play witnesses. When they meet the other actors and hear that Will Shakespeare needs actors for his new play they follow them to the audition.
  • A deleted take where Tom Wilkinson announces that he will be playing the apothecary. To Rushs question "How does the comedy end?" Fiennes replys "By God, I wish I knew". Then Rush says "By God, if you do not, who does? Let us have pirates, clowns and a happy ending and you'll make Harvey Weinstein a happy man."
See more »

Connections

Featured in Brows Held High: Shakespeare in Love (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

Wonderful!
11 April 2004 | by chesirecatgrin55See all my reviews

In the movie Shakespeare in Love, a young and promising William Shakespeare is finding it difficult to write a new play. He feels he has lost his gift for stringing together eloquent sentences and yearns for some sort of inspiration to rid him of his horrible writer's block. William then meets the lovely and royal Viola, who is craving to be an actress. She becomes his muse, as well as the lead `actor' in his new play Romeo and Juliet, as they weave a tangled love affair. This burning passion they feel can only end with separation when Viola is forced to marry Lord Wessex and move to America. This film is a wonderful combination of romance, comedy, and drama that attempts a new perspective of the classic Romeo and Juliet story. It employs clever dialogue, beautiful scenes, and wonderful characterization to entertain the viewer. The film's Renaissance dialogue is true to its time period. With such an excellent script, William comes across as the master of speech that he really is. Some parts of the movie are purely funny as almost to parody the seriousness of Romeo and Juliet. Other parts intertwine the actual lines from the play, such as the multiple bedroom scenes between Will and Viola, to provide a unique and obvious parallel between it and the movie. When Will quotes `Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' to Viola, this provides not only a sentimental scene but actual words from Shakespeare to add to the historical content of this film. This film has an interesting twist on the tragic tale because Will becomes not just a writer pouring out the lines for pay, but a man pouring out his heart in true love. At the end of the movie, Romeo and Juliet is presented as though you were actually sitting on the dirt floor of the playhouse. You see the play through the eyes of a person in England during the late 1500's, except by this time the lead is not longer Romeo and Juliet but literarily and symbolically Will and Viola. The setting of this film is very well done, and the playhouses, taverns, and elegant houses convey the feeling of Renaissance England. The costumes, including Queen Elizabeth's glamorous dresses and Viola's body-shaping corset, are seemingly accurate. (I would have hated wearing those clothes!) The scenes between Will and Viola are rarely anything but love scenes, and they, like their counterpart scenes in Romeo and Juliet, mostly happen at night. This adds to the mystery and forbidden feeling of the movie. The characterization of this film was splendidly carried out. I could not help but fall in love with the beautiful emotion that gushed from Will and Viola ( Will is extremely good looking by the way). When the couple was separated in the end, I felt like a terrible wrong had been committed. The character of Queen Elizabeth, with her snide comments and all-knowing attitude, was a comical representation of a serious position that kept me completely entertained. Christopher Marlowe also provides a wonderful character that conveys `real person' qualities of competition between two famous playwrights. I found this film to be completely engaging from start to finish, but I would not recommend it to everyone. I believe it could truly be given the title of `chick flick' by some viewers despite its fight scenes and comedic devices. The viewer will gain a knowledge of the Renaissance period and its characteristics while also getting the feeling of knowing the great William Shakespeare, however inaccurate the description of Will may be. I feel that now I appreciate the play Romeo and Juliet with a new sense of understanding that can only come from looking at an old tale in a new light.


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