With the movie premiering on Hulu October 14, Vital Thrills got a chance talk to Rosaline cast members Kaitlyn Dever, Kyle Allen, Isabela Merced, Sean Teale, Spencer Stevenson, and Minnie Driver, as well as director Karen Maine.
Rosaline is a fresh and comedic twist on Shakespeare’s classic love story Romeo & Juliet, told from the perspective of Juliet’s cousin Rosaline (Dever), who also happens to be Romeo’s recent love interest.
Heartbroken when Romeo (Allen) meets Juliet (Merced) and begins to pursue her, Rosaline schemes to foil the famous romance and win back her guy. The movie is based on the novel When You Were Mine (order now) by Rebecca Serle.
The film will debut exclusively as a Hulu Original in the U.S., Star+ Original in Latin America and Star Original on Disney+ in other territories.
Maine said the was sent the script with Kaitlyn Dever already attached to play the lead, which made her happy. She said, “The script was amazing. Written by Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter who I have long been fans of from (500) Days of Summer and their whole body of work. And it’s just hilarious.
“And the idea to, you know, set it in classic Renaissance period with this modern language and the modern sensibilities and themes just would create this, in my mind, this perfect juxtaposition of, you know, old and new that just really nailed the comedy and let it shine. So that was really the goal. And I hope we achieved it.
She continued: “And, yeah, also the music was really great too, because we’ve used modern elements like synth, but also a lot of old, kind of, period instruments from the time, like lutes and flutes and harpsichords and all that. So, it’s all blended in there as well. So, it’s really, you know, walking that line between old and new.”
Rosaline as a character is mentioned early in Shakespeare’s work, but as Dever says, “she’s a very, very, very small role in the story… because of that, it was actually a really exciting prospect because you can do anything and everything you want to, and the character that I created with Karen was something that we just felt like you could go for it in so many ways. And I think that on the daily, I was just having so much fun with the role.
The actress added: “I just appreciated and admired her determination and her fearlessness and her drive. But just playing up the comedy. The writing is so brilliant. It was really easy to go there. But, I mean, it was so easy to just have the most fun and just be outrageous sometimes, and sarcastic and comedic with this whole cast. It was really, really fun.”
Dever also spoke about the freedom the Rosaline cast had to play with their roles, saying, “We were always exploring that and those tones. And I feel like some days I was like, ‘Yeah, that was a lot.’ And Rosaline is a lot sometimes. And that’s what’s so much fun about her in playing her… we did have Karen there as a constant guide.
“And she’s so good with direction and sort of allowing us to feel free in that. And I think that this story really calls for that. And I was just saying to Sean earlier, ’cause I felt very settled in this story and with this cast. And I think that’s the best feeling you can have. And I think it really translated in the movie, I think.”
The Romeo of this film is all about performing his love. Kyle Allen said of this version of the classic character, “Romeo would fall in love with a stick if you’d let him. He’s completely obsessed with the concept and the idea of love. And other than that, that’s pretty much the entirety of his personality. He doesn’t have much else going on.”
Isabela Merced plays Juliet, and she was surprised to get the role. “I didn’t really see myself as a Juliet type. I’m used to playing characters that are very headstrong, independent, kind of typically, you know, not Juliet. So, I was very excited at the idea of it. They came to me, so I was very surprised. And I thought it was super exciting. I mean, Juliet is a strong woman, but she’s also very sensitive and emotional and sympathetic and empathetic.
“I think Rosaline and Juliet do a great job of representing both sides of what feminism and what womanhood really is, is you can be strong and you can be sentimental and sensitive. And still be an independent woman. I think it’s nice to see the two extremes of rebellion and then sweetness and kind of a naïveté.”
In addition to the Rosaline cast, Juliet has a rabbit as a pet. Sean Teale, who plays Rosaline’s love interest Dario, said the rabbit made it hard to do scenes because it was funny. Merced said of the little guy, “He was very cute. I named him Piccolino il Coniglio, which is Little Bunny. So pretty to the point with his name. I don’t know if he remembers, but. Wonder where he is now. You know, wonder if he’s proud of his IMDb credit.”
Teale spoke about the character of Dario and his confusion about Rosaline. “She’s incredibly charming, Kaitlyn and Rosaline. And also, there’s so much to her, you would not want to do anything other than find out more. But I think Dario, the thing that drew me to Dario is that something that I didn’t have, which is that he just doesn’t mind what anyone thinks of him or how he appears.
Teale added: “He is a certain way. And I do not possess that trait at all. I’m scared about everyone’s opinion. But Dario sort of manages to be a lot more progressive than a man would be in that time. You know, there’s a scene where Rosaline’s talking, ‘I am being a Renaissance man,’ and about somebody else, my buddy here being a Renaissance man.
“And a lot of those traits, actually, Dario has in him too. And he doesn’t need to show that. But he’s a little more progressive than one thinks. And so of course he’s completely drawn to this, like, brilliant, funny, charismatic-driven, diligent, independent woman at a time where that was not as easy to be or do. So, it sort of becomes very obvious to him … they also wind each other up to no end, which is super fun.”
Spencer Stevenson plays Rosaline’s best friend, Paris, and said that he needed to get a passport to fly to Italy to shoot the film. “I got to spend two months with these lovely people and learned so much from everyone. And yeah, just, Paris is so much like me, so it was kinda like just playing dress-up and just having fun. It was so much fun, and I think that’s what everyone needs right now, just after the two years we’ve had, is fun.”
Minnie Driver plays the role of the Nurse, the woman who brought up Rosaline, and who, as she points out constantly, is a registered nurse. Of the role she said, “Look, you have to have an anchor in a wayward love story/drama. And she was really funny. And it was very good that she was British. That was very smart of Karen to keep her British ’cause British people sound funny.
“I love that character. I love all of the sort of vague resentment and sadness of this lost life that you know nothing about. This film has nothing to do with, like, Janet’s other life. But I like that you feel it there. And I love how much she loves her girl and how she wants the best for her girl.” And that’s what made it funny and great. And that she helps the young people at the end by saying that they’re dead when they’re not. That’s also very funny.”
Though this is set in the past, a lot of the feel of the film is modern. Dever said of the anachronisms in the film, particularly the music in her playlist she made to send to Maine, “…finding a way for it to hit the theme of the film and the comedy and walking that kind of anachronistic line between period and modern, that makes everything pop. So, there’s stuff, I didn’t limit myself. There’s new stuff. There’s old stuff.
“There’s Enrique, there’s Celine, there’s Robin. And other than Ethan Gruska, everything is sung or written by a woman. The Enrique, we had it covered by an amazing artist named Anna of the North. So, it’s all very female. I wanted the film to just have this very strong female undercurrent in the music. And the composers we worked with, Ian and Sofia Hultquist, Sophia lended her vocals to a lot of the score as well.
“So, there’s this beautiful kind of female presence that sort of stands in for Rosaline’s mind and what she’s thinking, and really helps just solidify her narrative and her story and her psyche. So, it was amazing. And we recorded everything with real instruments in New York, and it was a beautiful experience. But the music’s amazing. The soundtrack will be on Spotify.”