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LETTERS TO JULIET

The Production
Two households, both alike in dignity in fair Verona, where we lay our scene —William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The Prologue

In point of fact whether Romeo and Juliet is real and from Verona, Italy has become irrelevant since Verona is known as the location on which Shakespeare based his play. Half a million tourists descend upon the northern Italian city (90 minutes west of Venice) specifically to visit the courtyard where notes of love lost and won are affixed to the stone wall; to stand on Juliet's balcony and pose next to the bronze statue of Juliet (with her right breast polished to a sheen from the tradition of touching it for good luck). Production began on June 25, 2009 in Verona, which (next to Rome, Florence and Venice) is the most visited city in Italy.

"What makes it so wonderful about this tradition (of the courtyard) and love in general, is that everyone wants to believe in it,” says director Gary Winick. Since the 1930s "Juliet” has received thousands of letters from all over the world; sometimes the missives are sometimes simply addressed as "Juliet, Verona,” but all of them reach their destination (the Club di Giulietta), which is staffed by volunteers. And all the letters are answered; sometimes with the help of outside translators.

The idea for the movie got momentum when producers Caroline Kaplan and Ellen Barkin were intrigued by an album of Elvis Costello's, "The Juliet Letters” which followed the pair becoming aware of the Verona Courtyard phenomenon. Soon after, they discovered the book "Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona and The Power of Love” by sisters Lise and Ceil Friedman.

"We knew there was something beautiful and romantic there, something pure hearted and resonant. Summit agreed and we immediately attached Gary as the director and brought on Jose, who came up with this beautiful story set against the backdrop of Verona and the Casa de Guilietta. " OR "We knew there was something beautiful and romantic there, something pure hearted and resonant. Summit agreed and we immediately attached Gary and it all came together rather quickly,” says Kaplan.

"For me, what I find is the most interesting and complicated and universal is material that deals with people's relationships and their emotions,” says Winick.

"For some people it's as if they live their lives on a checkerboard and you're on a square and only move to the next square because of circumstances. But imagine if you would change your life just based on courage, and simply make the leap without being pushed,” adds Winick.

"Gary's sensibilities are a bulls eye for this movie which, is in the best sense of the term, a date movie,” says producer Mark Canton. "It deals with an intrinsic human trait: it's hard to run from what the heart tells you and sometimes it's hard to run toward what the heart tells you.”

The movie is notable if for no other reason as to demonstrate that movies are the world's language: the five stars of the movie are from five different countries; Seyfried (United States), Redgrave (U.K.), Egan (Australia), Bernal (Mexico) and Nero (Italy).

Coming off of the international box office sensation of "Mamma Mia,” and the series "Big Love,” Amanda Seyfried had proven herself as an actress but had not yet been the lead in a project and in particular, one that required her to be in virtually every scene. "The movie rides on her shoulders, " notes Winick. "She's certainly luminous on screen but what's going on for her is two voyages: finding her mother, meaning Vanessa and finding her true love, which is not Victor.

"She's deep, she's funny and there's a lot going on behind those amazing eyes,” says Winick.

"It doesn't take tremendous insight to realize that Vanessa Redgrave

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