The Hollywood star who ‘gave up’ Oscar-winning role after ‘disastrous’ chemistry reads

There's a major Hollywood star who 'gave up' an Oscar-winning role according to the producer's shocking new claims about 'disaster'

Hollywood star who ‘gave up’ an Oscar-winning role explained. Seen here are Oscar statuettes displayed during an unveiling of the 50 Oscar statuettes to be awarded at the 76th Academy Awards
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There’s a Hollywood star who reportedly gave up an Oscar-winning role after the chemistry reads were a “disaster”, according to new claims from producer Edward Zwick.  

There might be plenty of Shakespeare-inspired classics counted amongst the best romantic movies but the 1998 classic Shakespeare in Love took a comical new take on the famous Bard’s life. Transporting viewers back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, this period drama focused on Shakespeare’s attempts to write the play that ultimately became Romeo and Juliet, all whilst pursuing a fictional love affair with Viola de Lesseps. It was for her role as Viola that Gwyneth Paltrow won the Best Actress Oscar, however the part apparently wasn’t always destined to be hers. 

Getting candid in a first-person piece for Air Mail, one of the movie’s producers, Edward Zwick, alleged that Julia Roberts was initially set to play Viola. According to him, the Hollywood star left the project following the chemistry reads which the producer has dubbed a “disaster”.

Julia Roberts attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards

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The producer wrote that amongst the actors lined up to play William Shakespeare before Joseph Fiennes landed the role were his brother Ralph Fiennes, Sean Bean and Jeremy Northam. However, he claimed that Julia - who wore a George Clooney gown last year - was eager to persuade Daniel Day-Lewis to have the part and even supposedly sent him “two dozen roses”. 

Unfortunately, Daniel was already committed to In the Name of the Father and so Edward alleged that Julia had a chemistry read with Ralph instead.  

“Even as Ralph did his best to elicit the famous smile, Julia barely acknowledged him,” Edward claimed. “I’m not suggesting she was deliberately sabotaging, but it was a disaster nonetheless. I tried to catch Ralph’s eye to apologize as he left but he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After he was gone, I turned to Julia, awaiting her reaction. ‘He isn’t funny’ is all she said.”

He went on to state that the “rest of that day and every day of the week that followed went just as badly”, before alleging that “Julia found fault with all of them: one was stiff, another wasn’t romantic, and so on”.

Eventually, Edward wrote that Julia and Paul McGann were preparing to test together and he suggested that she looked “radiant in full period costume”. 

“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,” he claimed.

Julia Roberts during Amnesty International USA 2nd Annual Media Spotlight Awards

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The Shakespeare in Love producer reportedly “tried to be encouraging”, however he alleged, “I made the tragic mistake of underestimating her insecurity.”

Discussing how at the time Julia Roberts had only just been “catapulted to the dizzying heights atop the Hollywood food chain”, he went on to suggest that the next morning he was told she’d checked out of her room. 

Having got in contact with Julia’s manager, Edward claimed that he’d been told that she was “leaving the project” at the point where $6 million had apparently been spent on the project on the strength of her casting. 

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE 1998 Universal Pictures film with Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes

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“I’ve never spoken to Julia again,” Edward declared. “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.”

Julia Roberts hasn’t officially responded to or confirmed Edward Zwick’s shocking new claims about Shakespeare in Love. The movie went on to win multiple awards including the Best Actress Oscar for Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance as Viola and Best Picture. Whilst Julia Roberts secured a prestigious Best Actress Oscar herself for her stand-out role as Erin Brockovich in the eponymous 2000 movie. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!