By People Staff
October 07, 1996 12:00 PM

>Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio


A BIT OF SKEPTICISM SEEMS UNAVOIDABLE when contemplating William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which opens Nov. 1. Start with the title. Did Twentieth Century Fox feel we would confuse this with Jeff Foxworthy’s Romeo and Juliet? Then there’s this business about the Bard’s couplets tripping from the lips of modern Miamians caught up in warfare between gun-toting gangs. And what about the casting? Can 17-year-old Claire Danes (of TV’s My So-Called Life) and The Basketball Diaries’ Leonardo DiCaprio, 21, really create onscreen heat as the tormented teen lovers? Quite possibly. Coproducer Martin Brown is only echoing the pre-release buzz when he says the cinematic chemistry between Danes and DiCaprio is “like fireworks.” But what about reports that when the cameras weren’t rolling, the leads behaved like bickering Montagues and Capulets? In fact, Danes and DiCaprio “went through some very difficult times emotionally on the set,” says director Baz Luhrmann. “There were definitely times when all three of us sniped at each other.” The problems included the emotionally wrenching material—and the bad cases of Montezuma’s revenge that both actors contracted upon arriving in Mexico City last winter for the shoot. In the end, though, Danes, who was dating rock musician Andrew Dorff, 19, younger brother of actor Stephen, and DiCaprio, who has said he’s seeing someone not in showbiz, were “there for each other,” says Luhrmann, who adds that the stars eventually settled into “a brother-sister relationship.” Mmm, star-crossed siblings. Sounds like a very special, midsummer night’s Sally.