Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Romeo and Claire Danes plays Juliet. The film was made and geared toward a young audience; one that would hopefully find Romeo & Juliet to be interesting if set in modern times and starring one of the hottest actors of the time. The film of Romeo & Juliet takes place in a pretend town by the name of Verona Beach. Because the film replaced castles with skyscrapers, there are two buildings that stand out in this movie, one is named Montague and the other is named Capulet. This suggests that the two families are at odds with each other and sets up the atmosphere of Romeo & Juliet being lovers whose love is rejected by their families. The movie Romeo & Juliet was made in Mexico City.
Leonardo DiCaprio took a big chance, making such an original movie. No one has ever taken Shakespeare and turned it into a modern movie while keeping the original words. He was the only actor that was even considered to play the part of Romeo. Casting Juliet proved to be much more difficult. Natalie Portman was the first actress to be cast as Juliet, however it was decided that there was too much of an age difference between her and DiCaprio. Then Sarah Michelle Gellar was consider, however she had other commitments. Next came Jennifer Love Hewitt, who surprisingly was let go from the movie when producers decided that she did not look modern enough in the dress rehearsals. Finally, Danes was signed on to be the Juliet that we now know from William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet by Baz Luhrmann.
In order to keep the same words of the original Romeo & Juliet, the writers, directors and producers needed to be very original themselves. Guns were given names such as “Sword 9mm” and “Dagger”. The original William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet had a prince as one of the characters, so in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, the prince was changed to a captain of the police station and given the name Captain Prince.
Foot chases are replaced by car chases and Juliet commits suicide by shooting herself with Romeo’s gun. Delivery men are replaced by mailmen. Death via sword is replaced with death via a large piece of glass. This method works most of the time and with the original dialog in place, this movie is definitely for Shakespeare lovers.