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Julia Roberts' original 'Shakespeare in Love' casting was a 'disaster,' producer says
2023/09/21

The revealed Julia Roberts was originally cast as the lead before casting became a "disaster" in a new essay.

Ed Zwick wrote about his experience attempting to cast Roberts in the late 90s in a personal essay for

"The mere possibility of having the ‘Pretty Woman’ wearing a corseted gown got the studio excited enough to cough up the dough," he wrote. "Ten weeks later I was back in London, where a xeroxed copy of Stoppard’s first draft was waiting in my fancy hotel room."

However, casting her counterpart didn't go as smoothly. Zwick claimed Roberts only wanted to cast Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of Shakespeare even though the actor had already turned down the role.

Despite being pursued by Roberts for the role, Day-Lewis remained committed to "In the Name of the Father."

Next, Zwick had Roberts paired up with Ralph Fiennes for chemistry readings. The reading allegedly didn't go well, with the producer saying Roberts "barely acknowledged" the actor.

"I’m not suggesting she was deliberately sabotaging, but it was a disaster nonetheless," Zwick said.

"The rest of that day and every day of the week that followed went just as badly," he continued. "I no longer have my cast lists, but among the yet-to-be-discovered young actors, I remember: Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Colin Firth, Sean Bean, Jeremy Northam.

Julia found fault with all of them: one was stiff, another wasn’t romantic, and so on."

Roberts was paired with Paul McGann for another reading two weeks later.

"On the morning of the test, Julia emerged from makeup, looking radiant in full period costume," Zwick recalled. "But once she began to say the words, something was wrong. There was no magic. The problem wasn’t the script. Or Paul McGann. It was Julia. From the moment she began to speak it was clear she hadn’t been working on the accent."

"Sensing Julia’s discomfort, I tried to be encouraging, but she must have intuited my unease, and I made the tragic mistake of underestimating her insecurity," he continued.

"Having only recently been catapulted to the dizzying heights atop the Hollywood food chain, she must have been terrified to fail. But I would never get to talk her off the ledge. The next morning when I called her room, I was told she had checked out."

Zwick was never able to get Roberts to come back to the project.

"I’ve never spoken to Julia again," Zwick revealed. "Instead, I’ve observed from afar as her work grew in depth and stature. I bear her no ill will. She was a frightened 24-year-old. I wasn’t much older, trying to act the grown-up as I watched the Globe Theatre torn down. And with it my dreams of grandeur.

"

A representative for Roberts did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.

being cast in the lead role for "Shakespeare in Love" alongside Joseph Fiennes.

at the Oscars for her performance in the film.

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