Shakespeare in Love

Synopsis: Will Shakespeare is a known but struggling poet, playwright and actor who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslow and Richard Burbidge but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps. She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare's works. Dressing as a man and going by the name of Thomas Kent, she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex. As the company rehearses his new play, Will and Viola's love is transferred to the written page leading to the masterpiece that is R
Genre: Comedy, Drama, History
Director(s): John Madden
Production: Miramax
  Won 7 Oscars. Another 56 wins & 88 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
123 min

Henslowe, do you know what happens

to a man who doesnt pay his debts?

His boots catch fire!

Why do you howl...

when it is I who am bitten?

-What am I, Mr. Lambert?

-Bitten, Mr. Fennyman.

How badly bitten, Mr. Frees?

Mr. Fennyman, including interest.

-Aaah! I can pay you!


Two weeks! Three weeks at the most!

Oh, for pitys sake!

Take them out.

Where will you find...

Including interest, in 3 weeks?

-I have a wonderful new play.

-Put them back in.

-Its a comedy!

-Cut off his nose.

Its a new comedy

by William Shakespeare.

-And his ears.

-And a share!

We will be partners, Mr. Fennyman!


Its a crowd-tickler.

Mistaken identities.

Shipwreck. Pirate king.

-A bit with a dog, and love triumphant.

-I think I've seen it.

I didnt like it.

-But this time it is by Shakespeare.

-Whats it called?

"Romeo and Ethel,

the Pirates Daughter".

Good title.

A play takes time.

Find the actors, rehearsals.

Lets say we open in 2 weeks.

Thats, what, 500 groundlings

at tuppence a head.

In addition, 400 backsides at

three pence, a penny extra for cushions.

Call it, uh, 200 cushions.

Say two performances for safety.

How much is that, Mr. Frees?

-20 pounds to the penny, Mr. Fennyman.


-But I have to pay the actors and the author.

-Share of the profits.

-Theres never any...

-Of course not.

Mr. Fennyman, I think you

might have hit upon something.

Sign there.

So, "Romeo and Ethel,

the Pirates Daughter".

Almost finished?

Without doubt hes completing

it at this very moment.

Will. Will!

Where is my play?

Tell me you have it nearly done.

Tell me you have it started.

Doubt that the stars are fire,

doubt that the sun doth move.

No, no, we havent the time.

Talk prose.

Where is my play?

-It is all locked safe in here.

-God be praised.


-As soon as I find my muse.

-Who is she this time?

She is always Aphrodite.

Aphrodite Baggot, who does it

behind the Dog and Trumpet?

Henslowe, you have no soul...

so how can you understand

the emptiness that seeks a soul mate?

Ow! Will!

I am a dead man and buggered to boot.

My theater is closed by the plague

these twelve weeks.

My actors are forced to tour

the inn yards of England...

while Mr. Burbage and the Chamberlains

Men are invited to court...

and receive 10 pounds

to play your piece...

written for my theater,

by my writer, at my risk...

when you were green and grateful.

-What piece? "Richard Crookback"?

-No! It's comedy they want.

Like "Romeo and Ethel".

-Who wrote that?

-Nobody. You were writing it for me.

-I gave you 3 pound a month since.

-Half what you owe me.

I'm still due for

"One Gentleman of Verona".

What is money to you and me?

I, your patron, you, my word Wright.

When the plague lifts...

Burbage will have a new play

by Christopher Marlowe for the "Curtain".

-I will have nothing for the "Rose".

-Mr. Henslowe.

-Will you lend me 50 pounds?

-50 pounds? What for?

Burbage offers me a partnership

in the Chamberlains Men.

For 50 pounds, my days

as a hired player are over.

Oh, cut out my heart.

Throw my liver to the dogs.

No, then?

Theaters are handmaidens of the devil!

The players breed lewdness in your wives

and wickedness in your children!

And the "Rose" smells

thusly rank by any name!

I say, a plague on both their houses!

Where are you going?

My weekly confession.

Words, words, words.

Once, I had the gift.

I could make love out of words

as a potter makes cups of clay.

Love that overthrows empires.

Love that binds two hearts together,

come hellfire and brimstone.

For sixpence a line,

Rate this script:4.0 / 1 vote

Marc Norman

Marc Norman (born 1941, Los Angeles, California) is an American screenwriter. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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