Top Romantic Comedies Based on Works by Shakespeare

The entire world serves as a stage, making it the ideal source of inspiration for romantic comedy stories. Numerous popular romantic movies have drawn inspiration from William Shakespeare, the famous Bard. One example is the 1999 cult classic “10 Things I Hate About You” featuring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, inspired by Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

The film chronicled the high school romantic experiences of sisters Kat and Bianca Stratford, played by Stiles and Oleynik. Bianca was prohibited from dating until her elder sister, Kat, found a romantic partner. Cameron James (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) devised a plan to have resident bad boy Patrick Verona (played by Ledger) court Kat to pursue Bianca.

The movie’s storyline is similar to the play written by Shakespeare in the 16th century, where Lucentio cannot marry his love interest, Bianca, until her elder sister, Katherina, known for her shrewish behavior, marries first. Petruccio joins Lucentio to win over the reluctant Katherina and make her a submissive wife.

Screenwriter Kirsten Smith remembered in a 2019 interview with Refinery29 that she and co-writer Karen McCullah were seeking a fairytale or fable to adapt, and a friend suggested “The Taming of the Shrew.” Although the idea of switching gender roles was considered, they ultimately decided to keep the original story. The search for a suitable tale to set in a high school took them two months.

Smith added: “Our goal was to find the perfect concept for a teen movie and once we settled on ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, we went to Mexico where Karen had a timeshare. We spent a week outlining the script on the beach, then went back to our separate states and wrote the script while communicating long distance. This was before the widespread use of the internet, so we had to mail each other pages and send faxes of scenes. It was a very low-tech process!”

“10 Things I Hate About You” marked the start of the trend of romantic comedies based on Shakespearean plays, with Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum as prominent stars. 2006’s She’s the Man, inspired by Twelfth Night, featured Bynes as Viola, who disguised herself as her twin brother Sebastian to attend a new boarding school and play on their soccer team after her own was canceled. While there, she developed feelings for her roommate Duke (Tatum), who was in love with Olivia (played by Laura Ramsey).

“10 Things I Hate About You” was a groundbreaking film in the world of romantic comedies based on Shakespeare’s plays. It served as a tipping point for this genre and featured talented actors such as Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.

Another film that followed in the footsteps of “10 Things I Hate About You” was “She’s the Man,” released in 2006 and inspired by Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” The film starred Amanda Bynes as Viola, a teenage girl who disguised herself as her twin brother Sebastian to attend a new boarding school after her soccer team was canceled.

At the boarding school, Viola fell in love with her roommate Duke, played by Channing Tatum, who was infatuated with popular classmate Olivia, played by Laura Ramsey. The film brought a modern twist to the classic Shakespearean play and was a hit among audiences.

In conclusion, “10 Things I Hate About You” and “She’s the Man” were two significant films in the trend of romantic comedies based on Shakespeare’s plays. They brought a fresh perspective to classic stories and showcased Amanda Bynes’s talents and Channing Tatum’s talents.

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Viola disguises herself as a man while working for Duke, who she likes. But Duke loves Countess Olivia, so he asks Viola to court her on his behalf, even though Olivia loves her twin brother Sebastian. “I totally fought for Channing to get cast in that movie because he wasn’t famous yet,” the former Amanda Show star told Paper magazine in November 2018.

She called the movie an “interesting experience” as a whole. “He had just done a Mountain Dew commercial, and I thought: This guy’s a star; every girl will love him! But [the producers] said: ‘He’s so much older than all of you!’ And I was like: It doesn’t matter! Trust me!”

Scroll down to see more of the best romantic comedies based on plays by Shakespeare:

10 Things I Hate About You

The movie 10 Things I Hate About You, released in 1999, tells the story of two high school students who fall in love. The older sister, Kat Stratford, played by Julia Stiles, is depicted as a stereotypical mean girl. However, when she finds out that her younger sister, Bianca, has a crush on the notorious bad boy, Patrick Verona, played by Heath Ledger, Kat decides to introduce them. This encounter leads to the unlikely pairing of the feminist and intelligent Kat with the rebellious and charming Patrick. The film, set at Padua High School, is a modernization of William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

She’s the Man

The 2006 comedy “She’s the Man” stars Amanda Bynes as Viola Hastings, a high school student who disguises herself as her twin brother to play soccer for the boys’ team. This move is prompted by the school’s decision to cut the girl’s soccer team and prevent Viola from trying out for the boys’ team. The film is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.” As Viola navigates her double life, she becomes close to Duke Orsino, played by Channing Tatum, on who she has a crush. However, Duke is interested in Olivia, Viola’s classmate, leading to a complicated love triangle.

Get Over It

“Get Over It,” a romantic comedy film from 2001, centers around Berke Landers (played by Ben Foster), who is attempting to move on from his past relationship with Allison (Kirsten Dunst). Berke’s jealousy and controlling ways were the reason for the breakup. His friends band together to help him win Allison back when she begins dating Lance (Colin Hanks). The movie takes loose inspiration from William Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Warm Bodies

The 2013 film “Warm Bodies” is a unique blend of genres, combining romantic comedy and horror elements to create a heartwarming and entertaining story. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of the population has become zombies, the film introduces us to R, a zombie with a heart of gold, portrayed by the talented actor Nicholas Hoult. R saves Julie, a human survivor played by Teresa Palmer, from a zombie attack, and the two of them develop an unlikely relationship.

This relationship forms the film’s heart and brings a fresh perspective to the classic zombie genre. The film is based on Isaac Marion’s 2010 book of the same name and explores themes of love and hope in a world of darkness and decay. With its memorable characters, witty humor, and touching romance, “Warm Bodies” is a must-see film for fans of the zombie genre and for those who appreciate a good romantic comedy.

Deliver Us From Eva

The 2003 film “Deliver Us From Eva” is a romantic comedy that stars Gabrielle Union and LL Cool J. Union plays the lead role of Eva, a caretaker for her younger sisters who often get in the way of their love lives. Tired of her constant advice, her in-laws ask Ray, played by LL Cool J, to woo Eva and distract her from her family duties. The film is a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Much Ado About Christmas

The 2021 film “Much Ado About Christmas” is a holiday-themed romantic comedy loosely based on William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing.” The film stars Susie Abromeit as the kind heiress Haley and Torrance Coombs as her new boyfriend Claud. In the movie, Haley must navigate the challenges of keeping her identity a secret while helping Claud with a business pitch for the real Haley company.


The movie opens with Andrea Carson, a talented motocross racer, who cannot participate in the race due to her brother’s injury. With a burning desire to compete and make her mark, she hatches a plan to disguise herself as her brother and compete in his place. The movie takes us through her journey as she balances her love for the sport and the challenges of pretending to be someone else. Along the way, she falls for Dean, adding another layer of complexity to her already challenging situation.

Shakespeare in Love

Set in Elizabethan England, the movie is a love letter to the art of theatre and a charming romance between two passionate individuals. The movie explores the creative process of writing as Shakespeare struggles to find inspiration for his next play–until he meets Viola, an actress seeking to make her mark in the male-dominated world of theatre. Their love inspires Shakespeare to create one of the greatest love stories.

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Al Amin Sagor is simply a movie freak who is passionate about writing entertainment content. He loves to watch web series, and movies and write on celebrity gossip or trendy movie news. He also covers media and entertainment news on various online platforms. He is one of the "Jewel" of The News Titan.


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