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Colin Firth as The Earl of Wessex

With Colin Firth as Wessex

Film Facts
Reviews of Shakespeare in Love
Plot Summary
Favorite Quotes
General Comments
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Comments By Colin
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The Age of Shakespeare



1/09/99 -- Transcript and snappys by Nan of the A&E Interview 1/3/99

12/20/98 -- Pictures of Colin Firth from the New York and Hollywood Premieres

11/28/98 -- Pictures and words from The Miramax Press Kit for SIL

11/21/98 -- NEW!!! A poster from the December Benefit in Toronto for Shakespeare In Love.
Click HERE to see it

Pictures from Entertainment Tonight (8/18/98) - Snappys by Meluchie
Click HERE for more Snappys by Meluchie

The Earl Is Humiliated By The Queen... Snapped by Murph, thanks to Rai

There is a wonderful Quick Time movie of a scene from the film on the Miramax SIL site. It is called "The Wager," and it features Colin, Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes and Ms. Paltrow.


Gwyneth Paltrow & Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love
 Click HERE to see a page on other versions of Romeo & Juliet.


  • Title:Shakespeare in Love 
  • Year: 1998  
  • Running time:  
  • Rated:   
  • Company: Miramax Films 
  • Colin's Character: The Earl of Wessex 
  • Other cast (alphabetical): Ben Affleck (Ned Alleyn), Judi Dench (Queen Elizabeth I), Joseph Fiennes (William Shakespeare), Gwyneth Paltrow (Viola), Sandra Reinton (Rosaline), Geoffrey Rush (Henslowe) 
  • Producers: Donna Gigliotti (executive), Julie Goldstein, II (executive), Marshall Herskovitz, Marc Norman, David Parfitt, Meryl Poster (executive), Bob Weinstein (executive) Harvey Weinstein, Edward Zwick 
  • Director: John Madden 
  • Writers: Tom Stoppard, Marc Norman 
  • Casting: Michelle Guish 


SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a romantic comedy for the 1990s set in the 1590s. It imaginatively unfolds the witty, sexy and timeless tale behind the creation of the greatest love story ever told.

It is the summer of 1593, and the rising young star of London's theatre scene, Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), faces a scourge like no other: a paralyzing bout of writer's block. While the great Eiizabethan age of entertainment unfolds around him, Will is without inspiration or material. No matter how he tries, and despite pressure from financiers and theatre owners, he just can't seem to work up any enthusiasm for his latest play, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter." What Will needs is a muse - and in an extraordinary moment in which life imitates art, he finds and falls for a woman who draws him into his own dramatic adventure of star-crossed love.

It all begins when Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), desperate to become an actor at a time when women were forbidden from such depravity, disguises herself as a man to audition for Will's play. But the guise slips away as their passion ignites. Now Will's quill again begins to flour, this time turning love into words, as Viola becomes his real-life Juliet and Romeo finds his reason to exist. Yet all is not well in Will's world. For even as the parchment begins to pile up, he is plagued by real-life twists of fate -including the unavoidable reality that Lady Viola must marry the insufferable Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) at the command of Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench).

In a whirl of mistaken identities, mixed-up messages and misbegotten desires -- between bawdy brawls, duels with jealous husbands and dangerous kisses -- Will Shakespeare searches for a resolution not only to his play but to his own undying passion.

HEREis a synopsis of the original Marc Norman script by Sandra



"It's like Bullets Over Broadway only it's Swords over Shakespeare"
-- Ben Affleck

"It has all the anguish of being young and doubting yourself and your career, and it just happens to be Shakespeare."
-- Geoffrey Rush

"There's nothing remotely academic about this film. It's about first love."
-- John Madden

 From the SIL presskit:


Wessex, the man betrothed to the young Viola is another contemporary invention; there was no such man and indeed the county of Wessex did not exist in Elizabethan times. However this type of character is similar to the many English aristocrats who held titles, behaved with grand arrogance, yet had no wealth. His marriage of convenience to Viola de Lesseps would net him a large dowry and so absolve him of his financial difficulties. The naming of this character might lead one to confuse him with the historical figure, the Earl of Essex, another rather arrogant man who considered himself to be a military and political genius and later was beheaded by the Queen.


  •  Filming began March 2, 1998. Locations include London, Holkham Hall, and Shepperton. 
  • Producer associations: Bob and Harvey Weinstein; producers of The Advocate (1993),  The English Patient (1996), My Life So Far aka World of Moss (1998) and Shakespeare in Love (1998) 
  • Casting Director, Michelle Guish was also casting director for A Month in the Country (1987) and The English Patient (1996) 
  • Other cast members include Rupert Everett as Christopher Marlowe, Antony Sher as Dr. Moth, Imelda Staunton as Viola's Nurse, Jim Carter (Imelda's real-life husband) as Ralph Bashford, Adam Barker , First Auditionee, Joe Roberts as John Webster, Gregor Truter as James Hemmings, Jill Baker as Lady de Lesseps, Nicholas Le Prevost as Sir Rober de Lesseps, Timothy Kightley as Edward Pope, Roger Morlidge as James Armitage, and Daniel Brocklebank as Sam Gosse. 
  • Gregory Truter and Roger Morlidge were also in TEP. Jim Carter, who holds the record for appearing with Colin, appeared with him in Lost Empires, AMITC and The Advocate. 


Colin Firth on the Earl of Wessex

"Whenever you take on playing a villain, he has to cease to be a villain to you. If you judge this man by his time, he's doing very little wrong. Reading about people of this period is a bit like 'Dallas' with different frocks on. They're all climbing all over each other [sic] for their own advancement. All Wessex is doing is trying to marry for advantage, which is all anybody did of that class. There's this sniveling little upstart of a writer who is getting in the way, so it's perfectly understandable that he'd want to split his throat."


The Sunday Times, August 21, 1994: (excerpt)
Quoting Colin's sister Kate: "Colin and I used to dress up, I was the princess in jumble-sale ball gowns, he was the prince in cloak and breeches. I knew Colin was talented because I'd seen him in school plays and in productions at the Drama Centre. In my first year at London University he did Hamlet. I sat there mesmerised, feeling terribly proud and jealous at the same time. It wasn't horrible, destructive jealousy, it was just that he was doing exactly what I wanted to do. After that his career took off. It's an odd experience watching Colin act. He really becomes the character. Most of the time I forget it's him, then suddenly I see a smile or hear a tone of voice and think: "I know that person".
Entertainment Weekly, June 12, 1998 (excerpt)
Quoting Gwyneth Paltrow: I'm doing a film called "Shakespeare in Love," which Tom Stoppard wrote. John Madden's directing it, who directed "Mrs. Brown." Geoffrey Rush is in it, Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Colin Firth. It's really an extraordinary cast."
From Reviews on line:
Variety: The supporting cast is a dream, filling out a potpourri of character parts with undiluted strength. Rush, who gets some of the catchiest quips, is sympathetic and funny. As the smarmy Wessex, Firth is hateful without overdoing his part.

Film Journal International: Colin Firth swaggers about in brocaded finery, having to suffer the loss of his lady to yet another Fiennes brother. (It was Ralph who got the girl in The English Patient.)

James Berardinelli: Colin Firth, the British heartthrob who played the male lead in the recent, superlative Pride and Prejudice TV mini-series, is Lord Wessex, the cold-hearted noble who stands between Will and Viola's love.

Salon: Her parents intend to marry her off to one Lord Wessex (Colin Firth, reprising the uptight sourpuss role that made him a heartthrob in the BBC's most recent version of "Pride and Prejudice"), who plans to take his bride to Virginia.

People Online: The course of true love never does run smooth, though, for Paltrow has a fiancé (Firth, stuffily amusing) who is hot to get his hands on her fortune by putting a ring on her finger.


From The London Times..11/29/98

In New York last weekend, a huddle of typically hard-boiled American film critics gathered for a private screening of a new release, Shakespeare in Love. It's Oscar-dash time, with films squeezing in to meet the end-of-year deadline. Here was another contender, a little period-costume film that cost its producers, Miramax, a measly $25m. But then, these are the guys who pulled off triumphs such as Mrs Brown and The English Patient against the odds. By the time our bunch of jaded viewers left the screening room, they were convinced they had seen a masterpiece, the most finely written and acted romantic comedy of the year: an Oscar cert. ....(Review continues HERE )

More reviews (1)(2)(3)(4)

For an excellent link to many online reviews, go HERE.



Shakespeare in Love Fashions and Times


"Is she Fer-TILE?"



1998 Golden Globes
For Outstanding Picture (Musical/Comedy)

For Outstanding Screenplay - Marc Norman/Tom Stoppard

      For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:
      Gwyneth Paltrow: "Shakespeare in Love" (Miramax)

      For Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture:

           Ben Affleck
           Simon Callow
           Jim Carter
           Martin Clunes
           Judi Dench
           Joseph Fiennes
           Colin Firth
           Gwyneth Paltrow
           Geoffrey Rush
           Antony Sher
           Imelda Staunton
           Tom Wilkinson
           Mark Williams

                                   71st AnnualAcademy of Motion Pictures Awards (Oscars)

                                 B E S T    P I C T U R E
                                 SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
                                 David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein, Edward
                                 Zwick and Marc Norman

                                 O R I G I N A L   S C R E E N P L A Y
                                 SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
                                 Written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

                                               A C T R E S S    I N   A   L E A D   R O L E
                                 GWYNETH PALTROW
                                 as Viola in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

                                 C O S T U M E   D E S I G N
                                 SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
                                 Sandy Powell

                                 O R I G I N A L    M U S I C A L   O R   C O M E D Y   S C O R E
                                 SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
                                 Stephen Warbeck

                                 A C T R E S S   I N   A   S U P P O R T I N G   R O L E
                                 JUDI DENCH
                                 as Queen Elizabeth I in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

                                 A R T   D I R E C T I O N
                                 SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
                                 Martin Childs:Jill Quertier


Rating System
***** Superb/breathtaking/heartstopping/etc
**** Excellent
*** Very pleasing
** Still lovely, but . . .
* Bad hair day

Personal Ratings

  Colin's looks
  Colin's acting ability
  The film in general
  Ranking in the films of Colin Firth
Watchability & rewind factor



therose.jpg (29338 bytes)

A picture of the excavation of 
The Rose Theater

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Elizabethan Costume

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Elizabethan Costume II


This page written/assembled by Sharon, designed by Murph

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Picture of the The Rose excavation was scanned from
Shakespeare In Performance, ed.: Keith Parsons & Pamela Mason

Picture of the real Earl of Essex on the Norman page was scanned from
The English, by J. B. Priestley

Other pictures scanned from the Miramax Press Kit

Information on the Main page and the Fashions page from the Miramax Press Kit

The page is part of a Firthland project on the films of Colin Firth.

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Page update: 9 January 1999