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Trivia / Romeo and Juliet

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The play:

Charles Gounod's opera:

  • All-Star Cast:
    • Audio Recordings:
      • 1995, conducted by Michel Plasson: French tenor Roberto Alagna as Roméo, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu as Juliette, Belgian bass-baritone José van Dam as Frère Laurent, British baritone Simon Keenlyside as Mercutio, French mezzo-soprano Marie-Ange Todorovitch as Stéphano, and French baritone Alain Fondary as Capulet.

The 1936 Film:

  • Actor Allusion: Norma Shearer had played Juliet in a parody of the balcony scene in The Hollywood Revue of 1929.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Leslie Howard lobbied to keep his own blond hair in the film, rather than darken it to look convincingly Italian. Upon doing research, MGM discovered that there would have indeed been many blonds during Romeo's time.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Edna May Oliver wanted to play the Nurse so badly she turned down a chance to star in Show Boat.
  • Dawson Casting: The teenaged Romeo was played by Leslie Howard, who was in his forties. Norma Shearer was also in her thirties as Juliet.
  • Follow the Leader: The film was only greenlit after the success of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1935 because MGM executives were convinced that Shakespeare wouldn't be seen by the masses.
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  • Prop Recycling: John Barrymore wore the same costume from Don Juan.
  • Troubled Production: It ran six months and the budget bloated to well over $2 million, making it MGM's most expensive movie at the time. John Barrymore was also frequently drunk on the set, despite the studio executives trying to prevent it.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • John Gielgud turned down the part of Romeo, and it went to Leslie Howard instead. Robert Donat and Laurence Olivier also turned it down.
    • William Randolph Hearst heavily campaigned for his mistress Marion Davies to be cast as Juliet. MGM felt she would have been miscast and should stick to comedies.


The 2013 Film:

  • Dawson Casting: Averted. Producers had planned to cast a twenty-something actress as Juliet, but fourteen-year-old Hailee Steinfeld played it.
  • Playing Against Type: If you go by on-screen work that is. Damian Lewis is a Shakespearian Actor, but his most famous on-screen roles have been as soldiers, assassins and cops. Here he's Lord Capulet.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Nudity and love scenes were planned for Juliet when producers were considering an older actress. They were removed when Hailee Steinfeld was cast.
    • Lily Collins was the first choice for Juliet but dropped out.
    • Logan Lerman, Sam Claflin and Josh Hutcherson all auditioned for the role of Romeo.


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