I just finished watching the classic film Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968 with one of my classes. Such a gorgeous film. And populated with unfamiliar faces, too. I wondered why that was, and I set out on a quest to find out what happened to the stars of that film.
Leonard Whiting (Romeo)
Oh Romeo, Romeo… where the hell are you, Romeo? Isn’t he the one we all wonder most about? After all, he’s quite pretty to look at in the film.
He was nominated for a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in 1968. Frankly, after that, he virtually disappeared, appearing in a handful of films that did not garner near the attention or success of Romeo and Juliet. According to a People magazine article published in 1992, Leonard became a writer after retiring from films in the mid-1970s, though he is as yet unpublished. He felt he had been typecast and could not overcome it. He is married to his (former?) manager Lynn Presser and has two grown daughters by a previous marriage. Here is the most recent picture of him that I could find:
Of course, he’s 54 now, which puts him right around the same age as my dad — and if you look at it like that, I have to say he’s held up pretty well in comparison. Click to view a popup scan of the People article from 1992.
Olivia Hussey (Juliet)
What a beautiful young thing.
Certainly, her film career has been more lasting than Whiting’s, but to be fair, he probably has a point about being typecast. It would not appear that Hussey has had the same problem. She recently played Mother Teresa in a made-for-TV movie, she has two movies in post production and an official website. I last saw her in the made-for-TV production of Stephen King’s IT. However, one wouldn’t exactly call her a star. I’d like to know why. She has hardly aged a day, and she’s still gorgeous.
She is currently 53.
Michael York (Tybalt)
Michael York is, in my opinion, the one star of this production with the most lucrative and vibrant acting career.
Perhaps most well known recently as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers series, and known to sci-fi fans as Logan 5 in Logan’s Run, he is an Officer of the British Empire. He’s, of course, still acting. Here is what he looks like today:
Bruce Robinson (Benvolio)
I suppose one could argue that Benvolio was the only prominent role played by Bruce Robinson, who grew disenchanted with acting (waiting for the phone to ring and doing commercials) and became a screenwriter. In fact, he wrote the screenplay for the phenomenal movie The Killing Fields. Many biographies cite also a semi-autobiographical movie Withnail and I, which Robinson directed. I haven’t seen that, so I can’t tell you much about it. It is supposed to be a cult classic. Here is what he looks like now:
John McEnery (Mercutio)
Who could forget John McEnery’s turn as Mercutio? He was, in a word, brilliant. He is a well-known British stage actor, but his movie roles have not exactly been few and far between.
Here he is now in a recent production of Taking Sides:
Incidentally, as I researched information for this post, I found out that Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting apparently dated and were quite serious about each other. In fact, in a 1995 interview with a Russian journalist, Whiting said,
It is very strange, because we have never spoken to western journalists about the truth. We madly liked one another, or, at least, I was madly in love with her. But our paths in life have not coincided, unfortunately. No one understands it, but it was the truth. I liked her very much.
The two remain friends. Here’s a recent picture of them together:
Update, 5/16/07: I appreciate the interest this post continues to receive. I love this film, and I am so pleased that Shakespeare fans everywhere continue to derive enjoyment from it. I am, however, going to close the comments for this post. Unfortunately, the caliber of comments has gradually devolved into fangirly squeeing, coupled the the random complaint about Leonard Whiting’s age. In the interests of maintaining a higher level of discourse, comments will no longer be accepted for this particular post. I ask that you use my contact form if you have questions about this post.