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Natalie Portman was fired from starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio because 'it wasn't appropriate'

Natalie Portman was fired from starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio because 'it wasn't appropriate'

The actor had been set to star alongside DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet

Given her status as a talented Hollywood film star it's hard to imagine Natalie Portman being fired from a project, but that's exactly what happened during the making of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.

The 1996 movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as his leading lady, with other characters brought to life by John Leguizamo, Pete Postlethwaite and Paul Rudd.

There are a lot of recognisable faces in the movie, but Danes wasn't actually the first choice for the modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic.

It was actually Portman, who was just getting started in her acting career at the time, who Luhrmann initially cast in the drama.

The Black Swan star had only recently made her film debut in the 1994 movie Leon: the Professional, and she'd quickly gone on to land roles in titles such as Developing, and Heat.

Born in 1981, Portman was only a teenager - 13, in fact - when Romeo + Juliet began production. It's worth noting that Juliet in the original tale is supposed to be 13 years old, so the director was actually staying true to the story's roots by casting an actor of the same age.

Portman was only 13 when she was cast in Romeo + Juliet.
Sydney Alford / Alamy Stock Photo

However, it's also worth acknowledging that at the same time, DiCaprio was 21 years old. A great age for portraying a dramatic romance between star-crossed lovers, but only when the other person involved is of an appropriate age.

Given the hefty age difference, not to mention the fact that one of the stars was an adult while the other was still very much a child, the casting choices caused a lot of controversy.

Portman has previously touched on this when discussing her short involvement with the film, saying: "It was a complicated situation and [...] at the time I was 13 and Leonardo was 21."

The actor went on to say it 'wasn't appropriate in the eyes of the film company or the director, Baz'.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet (1996).
AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

As a result, Portman ended up leaving the role behind, saying: "It was kind of a mutual decision too that it just wasn't going to be right at the time.”

With the role of Juliet then up for grabs, Luhrmann settled on Danes, who was starring in a series called My So-Called Life at the time.

Danes was 17 years old, but while there was still an age difference between herself and DiCaprio, it evidently wasn't one big enough to cause an issue for the filmmakers.

Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / MediaPunch Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Film and TV, Celebrity, Leonardo DiCaprio