Shakespeare is hot in Hollywood -- ''10 Things I Hate About You,'' ''O,'' and ''Hamlet'' channel the Bard

By Jessica Shaw
Updated February 12, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
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10 Things I Hate About You

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  • Movie

Love may be blind, but Hollywood isn’t. It knows a good trend when it sees one. Thanks to the stunning success of Shakespeare in Love, producers have discovered that not only is the play the thing, but the play starring nubile young actors can be cauldron-bubbling hot. Love ”made Shakespeare fun,” says Jason Blum, senior VP of acquisitions and coproductions at Miramax, which produced the film. ”That ‘ugh’ reaction is gone.” And let’s face it, great works of English drama are sexier if you think the author looks like Joseph Fiennes. Featuring a who’s who from last year’s teen horror flicks, here’s a look at the whole lot of Shakespeare that Hollywood will be producing tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow:

10 Things I Hate About You
This modern-day Taming of the Shrew stars newcomer Heath Ledger, Party of Five‘s Andrew Keegan, and Julia Stiles of NBC’s The ’60s as high schoolers.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
With Alicia Silverstone and Scream‘s Matthew Lillard as friends who swear off romance, director Kenneth Branagh has turned his Labour’s — which goes before the cameras this month — into a 1930s musical. ”When I first met him it was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m sitting with the grandfather of the Bard,”’ Lillard says of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art-trained Branagh. ”Reading a scene with him is like shooting hoops with Michael Jordan.”

O
Speaking of hoops, this version of Othello, by first-time scribe Brad Kaaya, stars Mekhi Phifer (I Still Know What You Did Last Summer) as the only black student in a prep school known for basketball. Due late this year, it features Halloween: H20‘s Josh Hartnett as Hugo (Iago) and Julia Stiles, again, as Dessie (Desdemona).

Hamlet
Set in ’90s New York City but using traditional text (think Leo DiCaprio’s 1996 Romeo & Juliet), this tale of the melancholy prince stars Ethan Hawke, Sam Shepard, Bill Murray — and the thrice-blessed Stiles, who will don baggy jeans and sport cornrows to play Ophelia. ”It was a little intimidating because so many people have done Ophelia before,” says Stiles. ”But I think you have to be open to new interpretations.” Hamlet is slated for 2000. Another Hamlet-inspired story, the indie Let the Devil Wear Black, screened at last month’s Slamdance festival. This one is set in the world of L.A. real estate.

10 Things I Hate About You

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  • Movie
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  • PG-13

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