Fiennes Frere Joins 'Shakespeare' Cast
By Adam Dawtrey

Thursday January 8 1998 8:37 AM EST

LONDON (Variety) - Joseph Fiennes, younger brother of Ralph, is set to star opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Miramax Films' romantic comedy "Shakespeare in Love."

Set in the late 16th century, the long-developing picture depicts William Shakespeare writing a play that turns out to be Romeo and Juliet, while a parallel love story develops in his own life.

Judi Dench, who played Queen Victoria in "Mrs. Brown," is likely to take the role of Queen Elizabeth I. Shooting will begin March 2 with John Madden (Mrs. Brown) directing from a script by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman.

Joseph Fiennes is widely tipped among U.K. industryites to follow in his brother's footsteps as a major international star, and 1998 is expected to be his breakthrough year. He has three pictures set for release this year: "Martha -- Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence" and "St. Ives," both from Miramax, and Working Title's "Elizabeth."

The budget for "Shakespeare in Love" is believed to be north of $20 million, especially after a rumored $9 million in costs from the project's previous home at Columbia TriStar are taken into account.

Columbia TriStar was on the verge of principal photography back in 1993 with Daniel Day-Lewis and Julia Roberts in the lead roles, but the casting fell apart and the project went into turnaround. Roberts and then-director Ed Zwick had "pay-or-play" deals, meaning they would be paid regardless of whether the project proceeded.

Miramax has had Paltrow lined up for the female lead for some time, but a persistent problem in nailing down a young British thesp to play the Bard himself was one reason it has taken so long to get the project into production.

In fact, the delay has put pressure on Paltrow's schedule, and the start of principal photography has been brought forward from the end of March so that she can move on to her next commitment in May.


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