Joseph Fiennes on William Shakespeare

"For an actor the chance to play Shakespeare, this great historical figure is daunting as he is such sacred ground to so many people. But there is very little information about him and so much intrigue that it's compelling. The tragedy is when a figure is turned into an icon, they are dehumanized. This script brings out the human element; all the sentiments and problems that go with being human element; all the sentiments and problems that go with being a man of his profession in that time- falling in and out of love, having money problems, suffering from writer's block - all things you probably wouldn't associate with being a genius. But his film also acknowledges the man's brilliance, we see him as a writer of exceptional talent, but also as a man. To a certain extent I had to put aside my own reverence about the writer of such great works of English Literature and just get with it. I had to adopt the attitude that as soon as I put on these tights I am Will Shakespeare - simple as that"

from the Miramax press release on Shakespeare in Love

On his role in Shakespeare in Love

"When I was offered the part in Shakespeare In Love a voice in my head said 'not another tights role!' But the two roles are vastly different. And I could see it was a brilliant script, full of wit, as well as appealing to a fresh audience who might not know everything about Shakespeare. It's not some literary biopic of this genius, it's a lighter slice of fantasy mixed with fact. I've always thought it's dangerous to do just costume drama, unless it's going to have a modern parallel, and this one did. Both films were right up to date in how they portrayed human beings."

"Cutting it Fiennes" Company Magazine

" Shakespeare's sacred ground, isn't he? An academic's hero. Everyone's hero. So there was a feeling of trepidation in taking him on, yes."He admits to being "a bit shocked that Shakespeare was being approached in this Disney fashion," but is full of nothing less than elegiac praise for Stoppard. "The script isn't an in-depth look at Shakespeare and whether he really was the genius behind the pen. It's Stoppard's play on wit. If you want to make idols accessible - which I think Shakespeare should be - then you have to bring a human touch, make it self-effacing and warm. And that's what Tom does. What he's saying is that 400 years ago isn't that long and the parallels between the Elizabethan age - and its competitive nature in terms of the different theatres - is probably very similar to London or LA. I love the world Stoppard's invented. I think he's come close to how people really did exist - I imagine it must be like MPs going to Soho peepshows, all those people at court crossing to Cheapside to watch Romeo and Juliet."

The Independent (London) January 17, 1999, Sunday

Director, John Madden on Joe as Will

"Joe was the unchallenged candidate from a very wide search," says Madden, who also directed the acclaimed Mrs Brown. "He just stood out head and shoulders above the rest. He was the only person remotely believable as the man who wrote the plays. He has the romance and the humour and the looks - and so much more. The part belongs to him. He was my choice and I made it very clear that I didn't want to make the movie unless I could find the right person. Joe was the one."

On Literature and Art

I've got a vendetta to destroy the Net [in a half-mocking tone]. To make everyone go to the library. I love the organic thing of pen and paper, ink on canvas. I love going down to the library, the feel and smell of books.

I think what I discovered from an early age was the joy of the written word. I just found that life enhancing, that you could hold hands with poets from different centuries, different ages, different backgrounds, and they would take you places that you never really knew or understood existed.

"Meet Joe Fiennes" from Newsday Magazine

Shakespeare in Love - A Celebration


 Audio Interview