Star-crossed lovers Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth, along with costars Ed Westwick, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tomas Arana, and Nathalie Rapti Gomez and director Carlo Carlei, hit the Swarovski crystal-studded red carpet for their film’s world premiere at ArcLight Hollywood on Sept. 24.
Steinfeld, who was joined on the red carpet by gal pal Taylor Swift, said she teetered between being intimidated by Juliet and treating her like any other character she had played in the past. The young starlet was also joined by friends Jaden Smith and Moises Arias inside the screening.
“You kind of have to take it as any other role because I feel like, if I made it a thing that I was a part of re-making this classic or playing this iconic role, I would sort of lose sight of the work,” she said. “So I was able to read it on a clean slate and go into it and just sort if immerse myself in the entire world.”
Although the tragedy was written in 1597, the cast and crew said its theme of forbidden love still resonates today.
“I think the theme’s just still so relevant,” Booth, who plays Romeo, said. “I mean, all over the world you could find examples of people who are madly in love, but are being forced to marry other people. I think it’s going on all over the world in all societies.”
“It’s still relevant 500 years later and it will always be relevant a thousand years from now, nothing changes,” Arana said. “In Syria now there’s going to be a young son of a family that supports the regime that falls in love with a young daughter of a family that supports the rebels. And I’m sure that happens everywhere in the world.”
Instead of a dramatic reinterpretation, a la Baz Luhrmann, screenwriter Julian Fellowes opted for a traditional retelling of the classic tale, a la Franco Zeffirelli.
“I felt (that a drastic adaptation had) been done, I felt it’d been done by Baz, I felt it’d been done very well, actually,” the “Downton Abbey” creator said. “What hadn’t been done was a romantic, traditional reinterpretation with a whole Kleenex box of tissues to cry through and that seemed to me to be more interesting because it was nearly half a century since anyone did that on film.”
Meanwhile on stage, two major adaptations — a Broadway play starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, and a Classic Stage Company production with Julian Cihi and Elizabeth Olsen — will both have opened by the end of the month.
Fellowes said “Romeo and Juliet” is one of the rare stories that can be constantly re-adapted for new generations of lovers.
“We’ve all experienced star-crossed love, but I didn’t wind up dead in a tomb, that’s all,” he said with a chuckle.
The stars later chose sides between the Montagues and Capulets with their themed drinks at West Hollywood’s Soho House.