EXCLUSIVE: The actress is to star in a new version of Romeo and Juliet due to begin filming on location in Italy on October 4. This Shakespeare adaptation is being aimed squarely at the Twilight audience. Oscar-winning British screenwriter Julian Fellowes tells me, “Before Twilight there was Romeo and Juliet.” Collins is already playing Taylor Lautner’s love interest in John Singleton’s Abduction, so Romeo and Juliet looks like cementing the Twilight nexus.
Fellowes says he wanted to write this new version because the Twilight phenomenon shows teenagers are hungry for more romance. “This generation hasn’t had its own Romeo and Juliet,” he tells me. “My generation had the Franco Zeffirelli version, while John Gielgud was Romeo for my parents’ generation. For me, Romeo and Juliet is the iconic love story.”
Gabriele Muccino, director of The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds, is producing through his Milan-based Indiana, alongside Ileen Maisel and Mark Ordesky’s London- and LA-based Amber Entertainment. Italian director Carlo Carlei (The Flight of the Innocent) is setting the $12 million film in the Renaissance Verona of Shakespeare’s original. The producers are still searching for an actor to play Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo, indeed.
Fellowes, who’s in the middle of shooting TV drama Downton Abbey for ITV, wrote the original screenplay for the new Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie thriller The Tourist, shooting in Venice. “We want to tell Romeo and Juliet as clearly as we can, paring down Shakespeare’s language,” he says.