Ed Westwick plays Tybalt in Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’s upcoming Romeo and Juliet, which holds fast to the time period and romanticism of the Shakespeare classic. We caught up with the actor to talk about tackling The Bard’s beloved play and the film’s wise-beyond-her-years Juliet, Hailee Steinfeld. Westwick also reflected on why he left NYC in his rearview after Gossip Girl came to a close and how he’s working to transcend Chuck Bass in the next chapter of his career. Romeo and Juliet hits theaters on Oct. 11.
POPSUGAR: Tybalt has always seemed to me to be maybe the most interesting character in Romeo and Juliet. What attracted you to this specific role?
Ed Westwick: Well, first of all, we share something there, because I agree. I was always intrigued with the character ever since I was young, and when I heard the project was coming around, I thought, ‘I have to do this. I have to give it my governance.’ So that was it. I wanted to go on my own journey with the character but try to be something different.
PS: There’s sword fighting required for this part, of course, so that had to have been a fun element to pursue. Did you have any related experience beforehand?
EW: No, I didn’t. We worked with [an expert] in Italy — he was brilliant — and that sort of scene choreography, it was so much fun. I really enjoyed watching it in the film. I think it came off really well.
PS: What has life after Gossip Girl given you in terms of freedom to pursue different things in your life and your career? A TV show schedule is so grueling.
EW: Yeah, I mean especially with the character that I played. I suppose for a lot of people, they think of me being that role, and I think one of the challenges is to show people I’m not a one-trick pony. I’m an actor, and that was one character that I designed, and what I want to do now is expand on that and be involved in different projects that I’m passionate about and that I can be inspired by and work with people who are inspiring in themselves. Just enjoy the different things that are out there, hopefully.
PS: And have you stayed in New York, or did you decide to leave once that chapter was done?
EW: I decided to leave. I felt like I experienced New York in a very specific way, and I was ready for a fresh break and a change elsewhere.
PS: Julian Fellowes told me he wanted to make this version classical, because other takes on this story for our generation all seemed to take place in a “skating rink or underground garage.” I assume in some ways he was referring to the Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio film; do you have memories of seeing that at a young age?
EW: Of course. It’s an iconic version, that one, you know? Very, very unique. The one thing I take from it is The Cardigans’ song “Lovefool” — that was a great touch. I love that version, and of course our version goes way back to the traditional version. They’re two very different things, but the important thing to remember here, and the important thing, I feel, is that every generation deserves to hear this story. I think we’re delivering one that everyone can enjoy.
Added more photos of Ed at the Romeo and Juliet Premiere and 3 of the afterparty! Click on the images to see more!
Public Appearances > 2013 > Romeo and Juliet Los Angeles Premiere – September 24, 2013
Public Appearances > 2013 > Romeo and Juliet Los Angeles Premiere After party – September 24, 2013
The first clip is a movie clip featuring Ed as Tybalt and Douglas Booth as Romeo. The second one is a featurette called the ‘Men of Verona’, and it’s about the male characters of Romeo and Juliet also with Ed. Enjoy!
Added more photos of Leighton filming Like Sunday Like Rain in NYC last Sunday!
Projects > Like Sunday Like Rain > On the set in New York – September 22, 2013
With all the promotional stuff coming up for Romeo and Juliet I realized I never made captures of the trailers that also feature Ed. With all the Romeo and Juliet updates today, one more wouldn’t hurt right? The scenes with Ed are very similar in the trailers so they might look a like.