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Romeo + Juliet was a breakthrough role for many of its cast members. It further solidified Leonardo DiCaprio as a megastar in the making before he even set foot on Titanic. But apart from DiCaprio, talents like John Leguizamo and Claire Danes were among those who greatly benefitted from being in the movie.

Although the cast got along well, Leguizamo couldn’t help but reveal why he hated his co-star while they were filming in the beginning.

John Leguizamo beat out Benecio Del Toro for ‘Romeo + Juliet’ because Del Toro mumbles

John Leguizamo smiling
John Leguizamo Frazer Harrison/WireImage

Getting a starring role in Romeo + Juliet wasn’t easy for the John Wick actor. Leguizamo had a lot of obstacles, especially since he was still a relatively new actor at the time. For the adaptation, director Baz Luhrmann put Leguizamo through the wringer to make sure he was right for the part. Competing with him was fellow actor Benicio del Toro.

“He made us rehearse,” Leguizamo told AV Club. “About a month of intense rehearsals. Auditions were really brutal. It was between me and Benicio Del Toro for Tybalt, and luckily he mumbles, so I got it. So that was incredible. Thank you, Benicio.”

John Leguizamo had nothing but praise for Baz Luhrman, who taught him a lot about filmmaking.

“And Baz is just…He’s galvanizing. He makes you feel like you’re so integral to the story and your collaboration is so vital. That taught me so much,” he shared.

Why John Leguizamo said he hated Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Romeo + Juliet’

Leonardo DiCaprio was still a bit of a rising star by the time he filmed Romeo + Juliet. Still, many in the entertainment industry felt that his talent was undeniable. Baz Luhrman was one director who was sold on DiCaprio after giving the star the part.

“There was no one else but Leonardo for Romeo,” Luhrman said. “I saw him and basically went, ‘If he can act as well as they say…’ Then I saw him act and he was Romeo.”

At the same time, Leguizamo took notice of DiCaprio’s acting talents as well. But unlike Luhrman, who was impressed, Leguizamo quipped that he couldn’t stand how good DiCaprio was in the role.

“I just hated Leo,” Leguizamo told Heat (via Press Reader.) “I’d walk in front of the camera, and he would do my line, ‘Thou or I must go!’ all screechy, so then I’d become really self-conscious. It came so easy to that little blond, happy golden boy. He’d smoke a cigarette, do some laps, do a Michael Jackson impersonation, go on the set and there it was.”

John Leguizamo claimed Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio had crushes on each other on set


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It’s been speculated that DiCaprio and Danes were taken with each other in Romeo + Juliet. But the natural chemistry between the two was also readily apparent to John Leguizamo. Despite the fights that Danes and DiCaprio had, Leguizamo believed they both shared a common attraction.

“I think Leo and Claire had crushes on each other, but they kept it very professional,” Leguizamo continued. “Nothing was ever done. And that’s great, because when you consummate an attraction, you defuse the tension on screen.”