Director Simon Godwin on ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ now streaming on PBS

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Jessie Buckley (Juliet), Lucian Msamati (Friar Laurence) and Josh O'Connor (Romeo) in “Romeo & Juliet” at the National Theatre. After the pandemic shut down the stage version of the famous play, Simon Godwin directed a film adaptation, now streaming on PBS. Photo by Rob Youngson

When the pandemic hit London, director Simon Godwin's National Theatre production of “Romeo & Juliet” shut down before it could open. So Godwin shot the play as a movie — never mind that he had never even picked up a camera and couldn’t film outside the theater.

“There would be no locations, there would be no trips to Italy, there would be no even natural light,” Godwin says. “And yet, I remembered a phrase from the Stoics, who had the motto: The obstacle is the way.”

Even without a trip to fair verona, Godwin shot his movie, starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley, in a mere 17 days. 

Godwin’s version of “Romeo & Juliet” is now streaming through May 21 as a part of PBS’s Great Performances series. 

He explains why he thinks the Bard would love the movies — and approve of taking some creative liberties — including giving Lord Capulet’s lines to Lady Capulet. 



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker