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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
2,059 ( 562)
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:

...A Comedy About the Greatest Love Story Almost Never Told... 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

Producer Edward Zwick was initially supposed to direct the film when Universal was involved. At that time, Julia Roberts was cast as Viola, and the production got as far as having sets in the process of construction. However, Roberts had casting rights, and insisted on Daniel Day-Lewis. When he passed on the project, it fell through. When Miramax finally went ahead with the project, Harvey Weinstein decided to not hire Zwick to direct the film. However, Zwick's production company, Bedford Falls, remained involved. See more »

Goofs

When Will and Viola are in bed together the morning after their first tryst, the bed sheets are pulled to provide concealment in such a way that only someone not in the bed (and off camera) could physically do. 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

Referenced in Hiccups: Speed Ball (2010) 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

 
A Terrific Film
13 December 1998 | by yuckbugSee all my reviews

I saw a preview of this movie and it was terrific. Most period movies are long, boring, usually low-concept and often as emotionally heavy as the costumes in which the actors trudge around (Elizabeth, Wings of the Dove, The Piano, Restoration, etc...)

Well this movie was different. Don't be afraid of the word Shakespeare in the title! This movie is not a junior-high history lesson. It's light, funny, romantic, and a totally irreverent look at Elizabethan England.

The screenplay is brilliant. The best writing in a movie I've seen this year. The idea is that Shakespeare is not some grave, great poet, but a young guy trying to make his way in the theatre. He's written good plays, but nothing truly transcendent. The conceit is that an ill-fated romance--the one great true love of this life--with a beautiful, smart woman is what inspires him to write his first immortal play: Romeo and Juliet.

In this era of world-exploding actioners and cookie-cutter Adam Sandler movies, it's rare to see such a specific, ingenious, and inspired story for a film.

The best part about this movie is its sense of humor. It plays with history, takes a great man abut whom we know alomost nothing, and creates a fantasy about his life that is totally outrageous, funny and real.

Also, the movie is really romantic. The costumes are lush, the leads look great and have real chemistry together. I used to think that Gwyneth was overrated, but here she's radiant. And Joe Fiennes has an intensity and a vulnerabiliy, as well as a sense of humor, that I for one find sorely lacking in his older brother Ralph.

Needless to say, this is the best date movie of the year. Women take note: I am a red-blooded straight American male, and I loved it. Take your boyfriends to see this movie. It will make up for you forcing them to sit through The Piano.


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