In an alternate movie universe, we could've had an early-'90s version of Shakespeare in Love that starred Julia Roberts and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Shakespeare in Love is a late-'90s classic that was both a critical and box office success — and it's still beloved to this day.
The 1998 film also catapulted Gwyneth Paltrow's career and earned her a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Viola de Lesseps.
But there was actually another actor attached to the role of Viola way before Gwyneth: Julia Roberts.
According to Variety, recently the film's producer, Edward Zwick, published a first-person essay for Air Mail about why the Julia-led version of the film never came to be. In the essay, Edward revealed that in the early '90s, Universal agreed to make the movie after Julia (who was just coming off the success of Pretty Woman) had expressed interest in playing Viola.
Edward revealed that he and Julia later flew to London to do chemistry reads with several actors who the studio had lined up to potentially play William Shakespeare. But Julia only had one actor in mind to play Shakespeare: Daniel Day-Lewis.
However, Edward had been told by Daniel himself that he couldn't take the role because he was already committed to filming In the Name of the Father. Edward claims that even after telling her he couldn't do the film, Julia was convinced that she could sway him and that she told her assistant, "For two dozen roses to be sent to Daniel Day-Lewis, along with a card that read: 'Be my Romeo.'"
Edward then went on to say that Julia did not show up the morning of the chemistry reads. He then went to see her at her hotel, where according to him she said, "Daniel was going to do the movie and I should cancel today’s casting." This led once again to Edward meeting in person with Daniel, who again told him he was unable to do the film because he was shooting In the Name of the Father.
With another firm "no" from Daniel, Edward then had Julia's assistant tell her that he wasn't going to join the film. She then showed up the next day to chemistry reads, where Julia was paired with Ralph Fiennes. According to Edward, the read was a disaster — while Ralph tried his best, Julia barely acknowledged that he was there, and "he couldn’t get out of there fast enough." Edward went on to say that Julia's only response to Ralph was, "He isn’t funny."