Director Gil Junger says Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were "very, very attracted to each other" during the making of the 1999 film

By Alexia Fernández
May 04, 2021 05:48 PM
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Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty; Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Fans of the iconic '90s teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You are in for a surprise!

The film's director Gil Junger made a recent claim that Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt dated during the making of the 1999 romance. The two actors, both 40, starred in the classic teen comedy, which also included Heath Ledger as Stiles' love interest. 

While Stiles and Gordon-Levitt didn't share many scenes together, the 66-year-old filmmaker told Argentine reporter Fede Carestía on his Spanish-language YouTube channel Mirá a Quién Encontré (Look Who I Found) the two actors dated "for a minute, or 10."

"They were very, very attracted to each other, which was cute," Junger said. "She's professing her love to Heath and she's in love with a guy waiting in his trailer to shoot the next scene."

He added, "Watching them, it was beautiful how much they enjoyed each other."

Junger said that watching Stiles portray the heartbroken Kat during a class scene in which she reads a moving poem to Ledger's Patrick Verona "just killed me." 

"It was so raw, and it was so honest and so vulnerable," Junger said, before saying he had asked Stiles who she was thinking about while filming the scene. 

"She told me, 'I was just thinking about' that person's name that she was deeply in love with at the time," Junger said. "It wasn't me, certainly, but it wasn't Heath either. That was one of the magical performances that I've recorded in my lifetime."

The filmmaker added that while Stiles and Ledger were not the ones who were dating within the cast, their "chemistry is amazing" in the iconic film. 

Stiles went on to marry actor Preston Cook in 2017 and the couple welcomed their son Strummer Newcomb, 3, that same year. Gordon-Levitt is married to scientist Tasha McCauley and the pair have two sons together.

In March, Gordon-Levitt commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the film on Instagram by sharing a rare photo of himself, Ledger, Stiles and Larisa Oleynik jumping into the air.

"10 Things I Hate About You came out today, March 31st, back in 1999. I'll never forget that summer, making that movie with such wonderful people. The best of times. Still can't believe it was over 20 years ago," the actor wrote alongside the picture.

10 Things I Hate About You
Julia Stiles, Larisa Oleynik and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 10 Things I Hate About You
| Credit: Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock

10 Things I Hate About You, a modernized take on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, went on to become a teen classic, with its tale of a high schooler (Oleynik) attempting to set her sister (Stiles) up with Ledger's Verona in order to get around their strict father's dating rules.

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The film proved a breakthrough role for Ledger (thanks in part to his swoon-worthy performance of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"), who died at age 28 on Jan. 22, 2008 after consuming a fatal mix of prescription drugs.

In 2019, the late actor was fondly remembered by Junger, who recalled being immediately struck by Ledger when he showed up to audition.

"Heath walked in, and I thought to myself, if this guy can read, I'm going to cast him. There was an energy to him, a sexuality that was palpable," Junger told the New York Times as part of an oral history ahead of the film's 20th anniversary.