Leonardo DiCaprio is an American actor who was 21 at the time of Romeo + Juliet's filming. He had already garnered an Academy Award nomination in 1993 for his role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and had co-starred in three projects released in 1995 (The Quick and the Dead, Total Eclipse, and The Basketball Diaries) that had established him as a promising young actor. His role was cast before the role of Juliet, and Luhrmann has commented that without DiCpario, he "wouldn't have been interested," in making the film. Critics have remarked on his more feminine, Ganymede-like Romeo, especially in contrast with Danes's steely Juliet.
Claire Danes is an American actress who was best known in 1996 for her role as Angela Chase in the MTV high school drama My So-Called Life. She was 16 years old and already had a number of film credits when she won the role of Juliet in Luhrmann's production. Jane Campion recommended her to Baz Luhrmann, and she was brought in to replace Natalie Portman, whom producers felt looked inappropriately young next to DiCaprio. Lurhmann called Danes "the Meryl Streep of her generation," and critics praised her performance and her fluid recitation Shakespeare in particular upon the film's release.
Harold Perrineau is an American actor who was 33 years old when cast as Mercutio in Romeo + Juliet. Perrineau's Luhrmann script reimagines the role of Mercutio as an audacious, over-the-top, African-American drag performer, which Perrineau brings vividly to life. His performance highlights implicit themes of systemic oppression like racism and homophobia, as well as his dilemma concerning his internalized feelings for Romeo.
Paul Rudd is an American actor who was 27 years old when he played the role of Dave Paris in Romeo + Juliet. Rudd would be most familiar to audiences from having played Alicia Silverstone's love interest Josh in Clueless (1995) the year prior. Rudd plays Paris as a comic foil to Romeo, playing up the fact that the character is meant to be buffoonish and misguided. Rudd's "nice guy" charm as an actor showcases the awkwardness and banality of Paris's affections.
Romeo and Juliet (Film 1996) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Romeo and Juliet (Film 1996) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.