Julian Fellowes on why he did another adaptation of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Julian Fellowes adapted "Romeo and Juliet" for its most recent of many screen adaptation. Credit: Getty Images
Julian Fellowes adapted “Romeo and Juliet” for its most recent of many screen adaptation.
Credit: Getty Images

Between what he’s put the couples through on “Downton Abbey” and now taking on “Romeo and Juliet,” you’d be forgiven for assuming writer Julian Fellowes is more than a little obsessed with doomed, tragic love. And he’d admit you’re onto something — but it’s not his fault, he swears.

“This whole business of love ending in death, I grew up on it,” he says. “I mean, you remember those songs — ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ and ‘Leader of the Pack’ and ‘Terry’ — they were all ending up with the guy dying on the motorbike or being smashed in the car race or whatever. And that was really my adolescent culture. So in a way I got there before ‘Twilight.’”

But early exposure to pop music aside, Fellowes insists he’s just giving audiences what they really, really want. “There is something about the ultimate sacrifice to preserve your love, which is completely pure and takes over your life, that we all find very appealing — perhaps because it’s a sort of ideal that most of us don’t live up to,” he says of the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. “There is a moment in some incredibly unhappy pursuit where most of us think, ‘Oh, to hell with it’ and then we just go home. But what we love about these lovers is that they don’t think that. The go all the way and in the end they would rather die than be apart. It somehow chimes with the memory of first love and early love, which we’ve all been through.”

And when he says “we all,” he’s including himself. “These stories — and ‘Romeo’ more than any other — take us back into that emotion,” he says. “And I suppose I respond to that as much as anyone else does, really. Odd as it may seem looking at this porky old fellow, bald and fat, once inside there was a lover.”

That does leave one nagging question, though: With so many previous adaptations of the Bard’s love story — and especially with Franco Zeffirelli’s definitive 1968 edition and Baz Luhrmann’s more experimental 1996 entry — why does the world need yet another?

“There are certain stories that won’t die, and they just continually get reinvented,” Fellowes explains. “Sometimes ['Romeo and Juliet' has] been turned into modern musicals about the back streets of New York (“West Side Story’) or it’s been made modern and set in an ice rink or it’s in an underground garage or everyone’s in Nazi uniforms. But the point is we keep going back to it. And I think the reason we go back to it is that it touches something at our very core. And that’s why it seemed right to give this generation their own ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and not constantly get out a fuzzy VHS of Zeffirelli’s version.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.