Julia Roberts shaded for leaving ‘Shakespeare in Love’: ‘The problem was Julia’
Julia Roberts was an original contender to play Viola de Lesseps in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” before Gwyneth Paltrow landed the role.
Producer Edward Zwick has now revealed what led him to drop Oscar winner Roberts, 55, from the project.
He was, apparently, “the problem.”
“The mere prospect of ‘Pretty Woman’ wearing a corseted gown excited the studio enough to cough up the dough,” the “Glory” director, 70, recalled in one. Articles for air mail Recently, it has been noted that Universal Pictures would only pay for the film if Roberts was involved.
Zwick then flew to London with Roberts so she could have a chemistry read with the actors who were playing William Shakespeare himself, the lover.
The “Erin Brockovich” actress was desperate to star in the film alongside Danielle Day-Lewis; However, the “My Left Foot” actor had already promised to shoot 1993’s “In the Name of the Father”.
Zwick recalled Roberts telling her how “brilliant, beautiful and intense” Day-Lewis was at the time.
“Don’t you think he’d be perfect? … I could get him to do it,” Roberts reportedly told the producer.
The “Mystic Pizza” star asked her assistant to send the “There Will Be Blood” star two dozen roses, including a card that read: “Be my Romeo.”
But once Day-Lewis told the team of Zwick and Roberts that he was fully committed to “In the Name of the Father,” their chemistry was rejected.
Roberts still went through the casting process, now paired with Ralph Fiennes.
“As Ralph did his best to achieve the famous smile, Julia barely acknowledged him,” Zwick wrote.
“I’m not suggesting she was deliberately sabotaging, but it was a disaster nonetheless,” he added. “I caught Ralph’s eye and tried to apologize as he left but he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After she left, I turned to Julia, waiting for her reaction. ‘He’s not funny’ was all he said.
Ralph’s brother, Joseph Fiennes, would later win the role of the legendary British playwright.
Other A-listers, including Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Colin Firth, Sean Bean and Jeremy Northam, also studied with Roberts, but he “found fault with them all.”
Two weeks later, actor Paul McGann signed in to read with the “Notting Hill” alum.
Even though she was in full makeup and Elizabethan-period costume, “something was wrong.”
Zwick felt that it was Roberts who was the problem in the scene and not any of the male actors.
“There was no magic. The problem wasn’t the script. Or Paul McGann. It was Julia,” he said. “From the moment she started speaking, it was clear she wasn’t working on an accent.”
He then described in his essay how he “felt Julia’s discomfort” in the scene and he understood her uneasiness.
But he noted that he made the big mistake of “underestimating her insecurities.”
The Post has reached out to Roberts’ representatives for comment.
Zwick believed that Roberts was “terrified of failure” in the world of Hollywood, as she had so quickly climbed her way to become one of the world’s most bankable stars.
After the experience, Roberts returned to the US and announced that she was leaving the film.
“Shakespeare in Love” was later produced by Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, with Later disputes Their massive Oscar 1999 campaign.
Paltrow and co-star Judi Dench went on to win golden statues for their performances, which critics say they won only because of Weinstein’s persistent lobbying.