Press Conference Interview With The Cast, Writer And Director Of Romeo And Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Mercutio and Benvolio

Hailee, you were really close to the age of Juliet when you shot this movie, and it is interesting that a girl during the Renaissance could be so challenging to her parents. In what ways could you relate to Juliet as a teenager, and do you share any similarities with her?

Hailee Steinfeld: Yeah I do.  What I love so much about Juliet is how youthful she is and how innocent she is.  It was really interesting, exploring her emotions myself at that age. I definitely explored a side of vulnerability and innocence that I had never really done before, so that was really fun and interesting. I think her innocence and her vulnerability is really present. Another thing is that she is very strong and independent. What is so beautiful about the story is that she doesn’t really know what she wants until she doesn’t have it, which is like most of us, in some situations. You really see her fight for what she loves. She does what she can to get to what she wants.

Julian Fellowes: I think what’s important about that is to remember that, although it feels very modern, that is all in the play. None of that was super imposed onto the play, the rebellious girl turning against her father. It’s all there in the original, so it proves that we didn’t invent being a teenager. It’s a condition of the mind that is as old as we are.

Douglas, I don’t remember Romeo being such a sociopath. He is in love and so enamored with art on one end, and then kills three people.

Douglas Booth: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. He very much lives in the moment to the most extreme degrees. He sort of falls very quickly in love, but I don’t think he really found true love until he met Juliet. He thought he was in love with Rosalind and he was busy carving a bust of her at the beginning of the movie, and then he just suddenly sees Juliet and just totally drops Rosalind (laughs) and now he’s just totally in love with her. But at the end when he’s with Paris, he says “please don’t let me put another sin upon my head, please don’t make me kill you,” because he’s going to do anything he needs to do to be with his Juliet. Nothing will stop him, nothing, and he’s (Paris) in the way and Romeo says “I beg you please,” and he doesn’t and so a fight ensues.

How does playing Romeo compare to playing Boy George?

Douglas Booth: I approach each character in the same way. First I have to go inside myself and establish something real and I have to put that out on the table. Then I think about how I would twist this to create the part. The Boy George character, that’s me. The Romeo character, that’s me. That’s just going within myself and changing myself to look completely different. If you put two pictures of the characters next to each other, people won’t know it’s the same person probably, but it’s all part of me and it’s all coming from the human part inside of me I think.

Hailee and Douglas, you were really convincingly in love. What was it like to keep the chemistry strong between you two throughout filming?

Douglas Booth: I don’t know. I mean we filmed the balcony scene first. You guys know this but you never shoot a film in order. For us we had a couple of weeks in Italy before we started shooting to get to know each other and it was really a valuable time for us. When we got going, we really were on the move because we had to just jump right into it.

Hailee Steinfeld: We were really comfortable with each other at that point. As actors, we have great chemistry.  It was really important for us to have that for the story to be impactful and believable.

Douglas Booth: And it takes work beforehand to make sure that you know your arc and you know your journey so that wherever you’re jumping into it, you know exactly what you’re supposed to be. You do have to make sure you know how to maintain that kind of connection throughout the whole three-month filming period.