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'Homeland' Star and More Head to Verona for 'Romeo and Juliet'

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Just when you thought the ensemble romance had reached its pinnacle with "New Year's Eve," the genre is being revitalized by revisiting a classic.

"Homeland" star Damian Lewis has been cast as Lord Capulet in "Downton Abbey" writer Julian Fellowes' adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet," which began filming in Italy late last month with youngsters Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Ed Westwick and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

And Lewis isn't the only big name on the bill; the list of newly-cast leads reads like a longer list of Hollywood who's who. Joining are Natasha McElhone (Lady Capulet), Stellan Skarsgard (Prince of Verona), Paul Giamatti (Friar Laurence), Tomas Arana (Lord Montague), Laura Morante (Lady Montague), Lesley Manville (The Nurse), Christian Cooke (Mercutio) and Leon Vitali (Apothecary).

While Fellowes realizes that his idea to adapt the Shakespeare classic may not be an original one, he's excited to do a more traditional rendering of the work.

"We felt that it had been quite a long time since there had been a romantic, traditional rendition of the piece," Fellowes told The Hollywood Reporter. "People have made 'Romeo' since then — and some very good ones — but they were set in modern Ohio or whatever. This isn't that. This is the romantic medieval love story as conceived by Shakespeare. We felt that really what we needed was just to make it slightly more accessible to today’s generation. That, I hope, is all we've done."

As for his goal for the production, Fellowes hopes he makes the bard proud. "My dream would be that you watch it and you think you've watched the whole thing written by Shakespeare."

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