The year was 1999 and the world was finally introduced to a budding young star from Australia, William Shakespeare’s modern muse, the most adorkable romantic lead, and an ageless beauty. With the debut of 10 Things I Hate About You, Hollywood welcomed a new crop of stars. Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gabrielle Union were among the notable names to get started in the big screen, modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Fifteen years later, members of the cast, including David Krumhotlz and Allison Janney revisit memories from the set.
1. Heath Ledger beat out Ashton Kutcher and Josh Hartnett for the role of Patrick. Ledger’s first major American film role almost went Hartnett, who was just coming off The Faculty and Halloween H20. Meanwhile, Kutcher landed the role of Michael Kelso on That ’70s Show.
2. Ledger missed the film’s first table read. “He was already cast, but he couldn’t be there because he was finishing shooting a series called Roar that he was the star of in Australia,” says Krumholtz, who played Michael Eckman, the school’s audiovisual geek. “So he couldn’t be there, but we kept hearing, ‘Heath Ledger’s coming and a couple weeks into filming he’ll show up in Tacoma and he’ll be there.’”
3. Even though there were a bunch of cliques in the movie there weren’t any on set. “It was just very communal and very sweet and we all just had a very similar way of looking at the world,” Krumholtz says of the vibe on set. “It was all really nice.”
4. In fact everyone got along so well they went to concerts together. Even though there were plenty of bands in the movie itself, it was Beastie Boys and Pearl Jam that the cast found themselves checking out when not filming the movie. “We just did a lot on our days off with each other,” Krumholtz tells VH1. “We went to dinners and had just a lot of fun with each other. We just all gelled beautifully.”
5. Many of the actors ad-libbed their famous lines. “[Gil Junger] let me be silly and appreciated my silly little inputs,” Allison Janney, who played Ms. Perky, says of the director who kept many of her improvisations in the film. Krumholtz also said the same thing of his experience filming. “Gil, to his credit, was really cool with [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] and I going home and working on our scenes for the next day together, coming up with stuff, little small ad-libs.”
“I remember being like, ‘Whoa I wrote that line!’ It was the first time I had ad-libbed in a movie,” Krumhotlz says of his favorite line, “I have a Tercel.”
6. The director played it fast and loose with his actors. In addition to allowing his actors to ad-lib, Junger worked really fast, keeping things going at a brisk pace. “Not only does he talk fast but he works fast as a director,” Janney recalls. “I never worked so fast in my life.”
7. Krumholtz had to teach co-star Andrew Keegan, the film’s self-absorbed male model, how to draw a penis on his face. “I remember distinctly that Andrew didn’t really draw a good penis and I kind of showed him how to draw a penis,” he says of the show’s famous cafeteria scene. “I had to tell him, ‘This is what it should look like and put the tip by my mouth.’”
8. Keegan was the biggest flirt on set. “We were all pretty close to who our characters were,” Krumholtz says of his co-star. “He was a super suave guy.”
9. Stiles originally auditioned to play Katarina Stratford’s younger sister, Bianca. Only 17 at the time of filming, Stiles wanted the role that ultimately went to Larisa Oleynik who was just 16 years old. Stiles later went on to star in a number of Shakespeare adaptations, including Hamlet, Save the Last Dance (Romeo & Juliet) and O (Othello).
10. Stiles performed the film’s final sonnet in one take. The tears were unplanned but they were totally and utterly believable.
Additional reporting by Emily Exton.
[Photo: Buena Vista Pictures]