It’s been 22 years since 10 Things I Hate About You — the clever modern take on Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew — premiered in cinemas, but it’s just one of those films that stands the test of time.
Now, we have reason to love it even more and perhaps give it yet another re-watch, with the revelation that while Julia Stiles was pining after Heath Ledger on screen, it was Joseph Gordon-Levitt who had her heart off screen.
In an interview with Spanish publication, Mira A Quien Encontre, Gil Junger, who directed the 1999 film, said that Stiles and Gordon-Levitt had fallen in love whilst filming saying, “She, for a minute or 10, went out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They were very, very attracted to each other.”
Of course, we all remember the scene in which Stiles, as Kat, stands up in from of her class to recite a poem that she had written about Ledger’s Patrick. According to Junger, the actress was actually thinking about Gordon-Levitt, who played Cameron, when she performed the now infamous scene.
“She’s professing her love to (on-screen boyfriend Ledger) and she’s in love with a guy waiting in his trailer to shoot the next scene,” he said. “Watching them, it was beautiful how much they enjoyed each other.”
Noting that Stiles was able to nail the emotional scene in just one take, the director praised the actress saying, “That was maybe one of the most moving performances I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty.”
“It just killed me. It was so raw, and it was so honest, and it was so vulnerable. I even asked her — I said, ‘Where did that come from?’ And she told me, ‘I was just thinking about’… That person’s name that she was deeply in love with at the time.”
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In 2017, Stiles divulged to news.com.au that there had certainly been some romance behind the scenes of the cult teen film, but refrained from revealing between which actors.
“Of course there was — you get a bunch of young people together, you’re having a lot of fun … We were at a time in our lives when we were still open and uncensored, and un-self-conscious — it was fun,” Stiles said.
Meanwhile, the romance between Stiles and Gordon-Levitt may never have happened at all, given that a group of different actors had been considered for parts in the film.
In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, the film’s casting director, Marcia Ross, said that Josh Hartnett, Eliza Dushku, Katie Holmes, and Kate Hudson were all up for parts in 10 Things I Hate About You.
“I loved Katie Holmes. She was about to get “Dawson’s Creek,” and we had to make a decision really fast,” Ross said. “The other person I loved was Kate Hudson. But her mum [Goldie Hawn] didn’t like the script for her, so she passed.”
And, as it turns out Gordon-Levitt wasn’t too keen to join the cast at all saying, “If I’m really honest, I didn’t want to do a high school romantic comedy. I wanted to do Sundance movies. I’m very lucky that five years later, I got to do that. The truth is, I was a naïve or stuck-up 17-year-old.”
Luckily, the Inception actor took the role and the film ended up launching not only his career but those of several of his co-stars including our very own Heath Ledger who passed away in January 2008 from accidental drug intoxication.
Recalling Ledger’s audition for the role of Patrick, Junger told the Times, “Heath walked in, and I thought to myself, if this guy can read, I’m going to cast him. There was an energy to him, a sexuality that was palpable.”
He continued, “The instant the door closed, I turned to the women in the room and said, “Ladies, I have never wanted to sleep with a man, but if I had to sleep with a man, that would be the man. Please cast him immediately.”
And we’ll be forever grateful that they did.