Feel the heat! Feel the desire! Feel the perfectly spoken, well-enunciated sentences!
That's right, yet another version of Billy Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" is upon us, because the 17 years since we saw Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes stare deeply into each other's eyes and head to Poundtown was deemed simply too long for any normal person to bear.
You know the story: Boy meets girl, boy's family and girl's family aren't really into each other, everything comes to a head wherein each dramatically commits suicide. Fun for the whole family. It's a little absurd. If they're waited, like, five minutes, all this double funeral nonsense could have been avoided. Kids. But we (of course) had a thought: How willing would Hollywood's (and one Wikipedia) Romeos actually be to commit suicide for love?
Come along with me as I judge the answer to that ridiculous question based off of wholly irrelevant and ridiculous observations of jpegs.
9. Laurence Harvey, 'Romeo and Juliet' (1954)
Laurence Harvey has a happy '50s-style headshot on IMDb, one of those gems that's so different from today's overriding "f**k me" face actors utilize for their headshots in 2013. But he seems pretty damn downtrodden in this picture from the 1954 version of "Romeo and Juliet." For one, instead of being drowned and overwhelmed by his love for Juliet (the person on the right in this picture, I'm guessing), Mr. Harvey seems incredibly confused by the idea of a back of a hand. Secondly, that is some KILLER (pun) hair for 1954, the type of hair that would be rubbed down by models in an Axe commercial today. Point being: I'm not sure this guy's in love at all. I think he's just confused. With great hair.
Verdict: 2 poison vials out of 10
8. Jet Li, 'Romeo Must Die' (2000)
Okay, so technically there's no one named "Romeo" in "Romeo Must Die," but whose fault is that? Certainly not mine, and definitely not yours, unless you did actually produce "Romeo Must Die" — in which case, cool movie, dude. Jet Li plays Han, a guy who is neither Romeo nor Han Solo but is colloquially implied to be "Romeo" at one point in the movie, thus making him eligible for this list. So now that we're four sentences into this paragraph, let's just say that Jet Li's never going to kill himself for love. He's going to kill himself (figuratively) to kick your teeth in, maybe, but not for love. Even if it's for Aaliyah (R.I.P.).
Verdict: 2.5 poison vials out of 10
7. Gnomeo (James McAvoy), 'Gnomeo & Juliet' (2011)
It's not that Gnomeo wouldn't do anything for love or isn't a romantic of sorts, it's that (spoiler) there was no real shot of Gnomeo ever dying in "Gnomeo & Juliet." This was a kid's movie, for the love of ... love. (Aw.) How morbid would it have been had you and your children just sat through 90 minutes of animated fun and then a cartoon swallows a milk carton of poison and dies and the credits roll? Answer: Pretty damn morbid. Also kind of awesome and unexpected, but morbid, too.
Verdict: 3.5 poison vials out of 10
6. Tony Watt, 'Frankenpimp' (2009)
So I came across "Frankenpimp" in my, ahem, "extensive research" for this article, and let's just say it didn't make this esteemed list based on any actual filmmaking merit. This page on IMDb has a list of every single Romeo that's ever been played by anyone on a film or television screen ever, and apparently "Romeo" from "Frankenpimp" counts? Works for me. By the way, how have your nightmares been lately? Not nightmarish enough, perhaps? Here's Watt's IMDb picture:
Verdict: 4 poison vials out of 10, or what Tony Watt drinks for breakfast every morning
5. Emilio Cossira, 'Romeo and Juliet' (1900)
Reasons for Emilio Cassara from 1900's "Romeo and Juliet" (the first R&J ever put on film, allegedly) to commit suicide for love: He can't speak on film (it hasn't been invented yet); he has a serious bowl cut (it's almost a helmet); he seems to be wearing a leotard, though who knows what people in 1900 thought people in the 1400s recreationally wore (leotards, I guess); he's sad about something (guessing because he was born in a seriously lacking time frame historically). That's pretty much it. Good enough for 5th on this list. Nice going, Emilio: you're just a little bit more likely to kill yourself for love than Tony Watt.
Verdict: 5.5 poison vials out of 10
4. Romeo, 'Painting I Found On Wikipedia' (Now)
Okay, so this Romeo (from a painting by Ford Madox Brown in 1870, apparently — thanks Wikipedia!) is into the whole "love" thing like whoa. Obviously, he's buried his face in Juliet's neck, and she seems to be receptive, I guess, though the relative ambiguity of her facial contortions could at least make for a particularly controversial Jezebel article. But their union would definitely represent the first on this list wherein the Romeo pictured would decidedly kill himself for love, if only to be dramatic and make people feel bad. And for those saying, "WTF dude, Wikipedia? That's not a movie," to you I can only say this: Suck it. For love.
Verdict: 7 poison vials out of 10
3. Leonard Whiting, 'Romeo and Juliet' (1968)
Few things to point out about this particular version of "Romeo and Juliet" from 1968: 1) Other than someone on this list that has yet to be mentioned (hint: his name rhymes with Schmeonardo Schmicaprio), Whiting was easily the most common Romeo to pop up on Google images. Facts are fun! 2) Those pictures represented what seemed to have been an overacting tour de force from Whiting, who makes about 15,000 "I'm playing a guy in a Shakespeare movie! I'm playing a guy in a Shakespeare movie!" faces over the course of the six-plus Google image pages I could tolerate. 3) 1968 Juliet can really bring it. She is really throwing fastballs. My goodness. Anyway, yes, Whiting's definitely killing himself for love, if only to convince the casting director he was right for the part.
Verdict: 8 poison vials out of 10
2. Douglas Booth, 'Romeo and Juliet' (2013)
Can we just imagine for a second if Douglas Booth went by "Doug Booth"? How quickly does he go from "esteemed English thespian" to "guy in Tulsa who makes you three hours late for work because you're waiting for him to show up at your apartment to fix your dishwasher"? The answer: Very quickly. Very, very quickly. Alas, the man is "Douglas Booth," however, and boy, would he ever kill himself for love, even if it's for 8-year-old Hailee Steinfeld. What? She's 16? Oh, that makes it less weird. (Laughs to himself, high fives no one, cries in the shower.)
Verdict: 8.5 poison vials out of 10
1. Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Romeo + Juliet' (1996)
No matter how many times I attempt to adjust the size of the above picture to make it a wee bit smaller, it's just not small enough, because Leo's charisma is basically breathing on us as we look at him. And like, not in a sexual way, either. More of an "orthodontist who's chilling a little too close to your face as he operates" breathing on us. This is a man who is 100 percent killing himself for love. Before you even open your mouth asking him if he wants to kill himself in the name of love, he's thrown himself off the nearest 50-story building. And who can blame him? This is "My So-Called Life"-era Claire Danes we're talking about, here. Congressman Brody can't get enough NOW, let alone 20 years ago.
Verdict: 10 poison vials out of 10