Julia Roberts was originally cast as the star of ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and it was a ‘disaster,’ says producer

Julia Roberts attends the 28th annual Critics Choice Awards on January 15 in Los Angeles.  (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Julia Roberts attends the 28th annual Critics Choice Awards on January 15 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In the run-up to Sunday’s Oscars, producer Edward Zwick recalled one of the many movies he’s worked on, which won an impressive seven trophies in 1999: shakespeare in love.

Zwick wrote in a new excerpt from his memoir, described as “recently completed,” which was published on subscription site Air Mail, about the challenges of making it, from a disappearing leading lady in Julia Roberts to a menacing studio executive in Harvey Weinstein shape.

Here’s a breakdown:

What exactly does Zwick say about Julia Roberts?

A lot. He writes about her taking on the role of Viola De Lesseps before Gwyneth Paltrow, who eventually took it on, with great success, and then dropped it. This was years before she finished the movie, but after her performance in the hit Beautiful woman in 1990. (He described her at least twice as being 24, so it would have been late 1991 or most of 1992. Roberts’ birthday is October 28.)

In fact, he said it was his involvement that “got the studio excited enough to unleash the dough” needed to pull it off.

But he did notice that his leading lady seemed to be having problems in her personal life at the time. She was wary of the paparazzi, as she had just broken up with Kiefer Sutherland in June 1991, days before they were supposed to get married, as she was partnered with Jason Patric. (If you weren’t around then, imagine the pandemonium surrounding Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s breakup.)

Jason Patric and Julia Roberts attend the premiere of

Jason Patric and Julia Roberts attend the premiere of Run on December 18, 1991 in Hollywood, California (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

As told by Zwick, Roberts In fact he wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to be his leading man, to the point of sending him two dozen roses with a card that read, “Be my Romeo.” When Lewis couldn’t make it because he had agreed to star in In the name of the Father, Roberts was seriously unhappy. Although Zwick said she went to great lengths to find quality actors for her to read, as they cast someone for the role, including Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, Roberts’ future co-star in knot hill a decade later, she had no chemistry with any of them.

“Hands down, none of them, no matter how talented, funny, or handsome, were ‘right’ like Daniel, which stands to reason, because they weren’t Daniel,” Zwick wrote. “To this day, every time I meet Russell Crowe, he scolds me for not casting him. We must have auditioned every actor in England.”

How do you say she left the movie?

“After two weeks of casting, there was only one actor Julia was willing to try out with. His name was Paul McGann. We set up a full screen test at Pinewood,” Zwick recounted. “On the morning of the test, Julia came out of makeup, looking radiant in full period costume. But once she started saying the words, something was wrong. There was no magic. The script wasn’t the problem. Or Paul McGann It was Julia. From the moment she started speaking, it was clear she hadn’t been working on her accent.”

The production had arranged for the Georgia-born actress to work with a dialect coach.

“Sensing Julia’s discomfort, I tried to cheer her up, but she must have sensed my discomfort and I made the tragic mistake of underestimating her insecurity,” Zwick continued. “Having recently been catapulted to the dizzying heights of the Hollywood food chain, she must have been terrified of failing. But I would never be able to talk her off the ledge. The next morning when I called her room, I was told that she had controlled.”

The studio had reportedly already spent $6 million on the project.

So is Zwick mad at Roberts?

Edward Zwick has produced and directed films including

Edward Zwick has produced and directed films including Blood Diamond and legends of the fall. (Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

In his own words, Zwick was upset when Roberts unceremoniously left his film, but noted that she was young and he was not much older. He “has no ill will”, although he has not spoken to her since.

Roberts’ representatives did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.

What does Weinstein have to do with this?

Zwick wrote that his film was in flux for a while, until the now-disgraced producer and his former company, Miramax, acquired it.

“When my agent, Jeff Berg, called and asked Harvey what my role would be in a movie he had developed and nurtured for seven years, Harvey said they were going to cut me out of the process,” Zwick said. “That they had paid me during the term of my contract with Universal and that they had no obligation to include me. My next call was to Bert Fields, the Hollywood lawyer. Equally respected and feared throughout the city, Bert sent Miramax a legal letter. And that’s when the threats started.”

It got ugly. But Zwick ended up with a producer credit on the film, despite being banned from the microphone at a key moment. (Zwick is the guy who is visibly disappointed when Weinstein takes the mic at around 2:47.)

Why, again, is this coming out now?

shakespeare in love hit theaters on December 11, 1998, so its 25th anniversary is still nine months away. But, as we mentioned, it really cleaned up at the Academy Awards, winning awards for Music, Costume Design, and Art Direction, as well as Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), and the coveted title. for Best Film.

This year, 10 movies — All calm on the west front; Avatar: The Path of Water; The Banshees of Inisherin; Elvis; Everything everywhere at once; The Fabelmans; Tar ; Top Gun: Maverick; triangle of sadness; and women talking — will compete for the same prize.

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