'Romeo and Juliet': On the Set
Hailee Steinfeld (as Juliet) and Douglas Booth (as Romeo)
''When I first flew out to Rome and was driven to the legendary studios of Cinecittá, haunted by the memories of Vittorio De Sica and Pasolini and Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, I knew at once we were working on a movie that was entitled to walk alongside those legends. When I saw Douglas Booth in his costume, and [True Grit's] Hailee Steinfeld, it was clear that we had found a way to retell this most classic of all love stories, with a pair of lovers who really are as young, as pure, and as handsome as I had always wanted them to be. I suppose I can claim to have 'found' Douglas when I gave him his first big film role in From Time to Time (2009), which starred Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, and Dominic West. I needed a young man who was handsome and arrogant and proud. Douglas ticked all these boxes, but in the time since we worked together, he'd found something more, a kind of tenderness that informed his Romeo and made him, quite simply, heartbreaking. And Hailee, already an Oscar nominee when she was hardly grown, has that mesmeric confidence of youth, bright youth, real youth, of the kind given by God and not Max Factor.''
(From left) Christian Cooke (as Mercutio), Douglas Booth (as Romeo), and Ed Westwick (as Tybalt)
''The next time I visited the set, it was in the magnificent palace of the Gonzagas in Mantua, where they filmed the scene between Juliet and Tybalt after the ball. The palace was freezing, and I wonder now how all the actors coped with it. Maybe they drew inspiration from it, because, heaven knows, it must have been cold in the 16th century. From there the production moved to Verona, where I witnessed the savage duel between Tybalt [Ed Westwick] and Mercutio [Christian Cooke], when Romeo makes his fatal intervention. As we watched, the wind got up, making the dust lift from the ground and swirl around the actors. Everyone complained, but, as so often with film, we did not know what we were getting. Later, as I last watched that scene — where Tybalt strides forward through the gauze that the sand has created between him and the lens — I found, to my surprise, that my eyes filled with tears. Romeo & Juliet is a wonderful story, and I think this team, and our marvelous director [Italy's Carlo Carlei], have made a wonderful version of it.''