How 20th Century Studios’ ‘Rosaline’ Puts a New Twist on an Old Tale

20th Century Studios’ romantic comedy Rosaline, a rollicking reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet, is told from the novel perspective of Juliet’s cousin and Romeo’s former paramour. Heartbroken when Romeo (Kyle Allen) meets Juliet (Isabela Merced) and begins to pursue her instead, Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) schemes to foil the famous romance and win back her guy in the comedic update.

“Rosaline exists in the original story, but we don’t know much about her,” Dever explains. “She has a very small role in the story. Because of that, it was a really exciting prospect, because you can do anything and everything you want to—and the character we created was something that we felt like you could go for in so many ways.”

Rosaline—now available to stream as a Hulu Original in the U.S., on Star+ in Latin America, and on Disney+ under the Star banner in all other territories—is adapted from Rebecca Serle’s novel When You Were Mine by 500 Days of Summer writers Scott Neustradter and Michael H. Weber. According to Neustadter, “The story of Rosaline really begins after Rosaline can’t say ‘I love you’ back to Romeo. Rosaline’s rejection of Romeo is really the impetus for his meeting Juliet. We didn’t make that up. It’s in Shakespeare’s original text. It’s the impetus for him to go off and meet Juliet, and after he meets her, Rosaline is never mentioned again or thought of again. We thought that it would be really interesting to explore what Rosaline thinks of that.”

In their script, Shakespeare’s unseen character is front and center, and she will not be ignored. Rosaline also masterly reimagines other characters from the iconic play, from Romeo to the nurse. “The dirty little secret of writing this movie is that Scott and I cannot write like Shakespeare,” Weber says. “So, we thought, even though we’re setting it in the period, everybody should sound how we sound, except Romeo. He is a romantic. He speaks in this beautiful poetry that all the young women fall for. So, as much as possible, we tried to preserve Shakespeare’s words when it came to a Romeo. But for the most part, the characters would sound how we all sound now.”

“Telling the story from Rosaline’s perspective allowed us to make this a comedy, rather than a tragedy like the original ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Weber continues. “But the other thing it allowed us to do was explore someone else’s point of view who was there, who experienced these things.”

This comic reimagining told from a different perspective puts a fresh spin on the infamous tale, giving audiences a new way to enjoy the stories and characters they know and love. “I read the script in one sitting and laughed out loud so many times,” director Karen Maine says. “I’ve been a fan of Scott’s and Mike’s work ever since (500) Days of Summer, and this script had such an original, clever, and funny spin on perhaps the most well-known story of all time. I fell in love with the character of Rosaline and her arc.”

Maine was impressed by how Neustradter and Weber’s script approached the Romeo and Juliet story from a largely female perspective, as well as how well it depicted its female characters. “I’m drawn to narratives about women who are presented in a light that feels real and authentic,” she says. “It’s really important to me to show complicated, complex, real women onscreen.”