'Shakespeare in Love' gets a boost from Oscar, and the film's nominees discuss the buzz with EW Online

By Josh Wolk
Updated February 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
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A lucky 13 Oscar nominations helped “Shakespeare in Love” increase its box office take 128 percent last weekend, bringing the film’s total receipts to $47 million. And what did those nods do for the romantic comedy’s stars? “It’s like a bomb hit me,” Geoffrey Rush tells EW Online about his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Currently acting villainous in the Universal superhero comedy “Mystery Men,” Rush adds, “We were all so enthralled with the brilliance and passion and innovation of the film, but in the back of our minds, we weren’t sure who would come out and see it, or if people would think it was too literary or difficult.”

Rush, who also acted in “Elizabeth,” says he won’t feel torn come Oscar night, when his two films will duke it out for Best Picture: “I’ll be thinking, What a great night for blond Elizabethan women.”

Judi Dench, who plays Queen Elizabeth in “Shakespeare,” says she’s “amazed” by her nomination, given her scant screen time. “It’s a minute part,” Dench says, “a big woman in a very small part.” Dench admits she hasn’t seen Cate Blanchett’s take on the same character in “Elizabeth,” but she plans to. “If you put the two films together, you get the whole spectrum of her life. I think she (Blanchett) plays Elizabeth into her 40s; I play her at 65.” Acting the part of the famous monarch is Dench’s second Crown-ing achievement in a row: She was Oscar-nominated last year for her role as Queen Victoria in “Mrs. Brown.”

“Shakespeare” director John Madden says his Oscar-nominated day got off to an ominous beginning. “We were trying very hard to forget (last Tuesday) was the day. You get so many people coming up and asking, ‘Are you excited?’– it’s tiring. So (my wife and I) tried to dial it up on the Internet. We were congratulating ourselves on our technological literacy, but when my wife logged on to the directing nominees and saw James Cameron for ‘Titanic,’ then Gus Van Sant for ‘Good Will Hunting,’ she said, ‘We have a problem.’ Then the picture froze. Then the call came through with the good news. It was kind of hilarious.”

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