Homeland's Damian Lewis, currently our leading exemplar of cards-close-to-the-vest acting, has joined the cast of Romeo And Juliet, which is currently filming in Italy under the direction of Carlo Carlei (Flight Of The Innocent). Lewis will play Lord Capulet opposite Natascha McElhone’s Lady Capulet in this new movie version of the familiar tale that, as previously reported, stars True Grit breakout Hailee Steinfeld and English actor Douglas Booth in the title roles. Rounding out the cast is Paul Giamatti as Friar Laurence, the well-meaning, meddling Dr. Phil of his day; Christian Cooke as Mercutio, the motormouth everyone thought was the coolest guy in Verona when they read the play in high school; and Stellan Skarsgard as Lord Montague. (And since Skarsgard always plays the asshole in every movie he's in, we finally know who was really the bad guy in that whole feud.)
The adaptation was written by Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning screenwriter and novelist who, thanks to Downton Abbey, is currently as hot as a PBS-via-BBC series can make a guy. And despite the current trend towards “reimagining,” Fellowes has offered assurances that the movie is not some freaky-deaky carbonated new wave version: “We felt that it had been quite a long time since there had been a romantic, traditional rendition of the piece,” Fellowes said, comparing it to the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version. “People have made Romeo since then—and some very good ones—but they were set in modern Ohio or whatever. This isn’t that.” Executive producer Nadja Swarovski adds, “Romeo And Juliet has to be retold every 15 years.” And since Baz Luhrmann's attack-the-block version came out in 1996, obviously they had to get cracking.