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Kaitlyn Dever Channeled Her Mother for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Riff ‘Rosaline’

"I did realize I may have just been playing a heightened version of myself," Dever said of the role she was courting for years.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 06: Kaitlyn Dever attends the 20th Century Studio's "Rosaline" Premiere on October 06, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Kaitlyn Dever

FilmMagic

A modern twist on a centuries-old Shakespeare play? Well, Emmy nominee Kaitlyn Dever looked a little closer to home for her inspiration: Her mother.

Dever transformed into the titular jilted heroine for Hulu’s “Rosaline,” directed by Karen Maine and now streaming. The famed story of “Romeo & Juliet” is relived through the point of view of Rosaline, Romeo’s (Kyle Allen) ex and cousin to Juliet (Isabela Merced). It’s not necessarily a great love story when you’re Rosaline.

“I did realize I may have just been playing a heightened version of myself, and then Karen allowed me to just really go for it sometimes and be intense and see this stressful side of Rosaline,” Dever told IndieWire. “I also realize that there are a lot of little things that I specifically realized that my mom does that I do in this movie, which is really fun.”

Dever’s parents accompanied her to the East Coast premiere for the film at the 2022 Hamptons International Film Festival. “What’s so nice about ‘Rosaline’ is I hope that people can see themselves in Rosaline, because I certainly do,” Dever continued. “I think we’ve all been sort of caught up in a situation like Rosaline’s. As time went on and as I continued to play her, I felt so settled in this role and in this movie, and I think it’s a testament to Karen’s directing. I just think that she made everybody feel free and loose and comfortable, and allowed so much room to play with what we wanted. I definitely felt that on a daily basis making this movie.”

Dever read the script, based on the novel “When You Were Mine” by Rebecca Serle, “several years ago.” Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“The Fault in Our Stars”) went through “different iterations” of the story before Dever was approached for the lead role.

“I was so excited about this real female perspective on this story that people know and love. It was something that I always thought about, it was always on my mind,” the “Booksmart” actress said of the adaptation. “Society just hadn’t caught up to it.”

HIFF 2022

Kaitlyn Dever and her parents at the 2022 Hamptons International Film Festival

Instagram/HIFF

Minnie Driver, Bradley Whitford, and Dever’s “Booksmart” co-star Nico Hiraga also appear in the Italy-set film.

Director Maine said, “Everyone was so uniquely perfect for their role. You know when you’re casting something, you have something in mind and you have an idea of where the character may go, but such a fun part of the filmmaking process is collaborating with these actors who come in and really imprint their individuality on the characters. Everyone is so talented. Bradley and Minnie, they’re such icons. They both have such strong comedy backgrounds that on set, they were just so good at kind of riffing. Chris McDonald, too, is like that, another comedy legend.”

And per Maine, Dever is a certified comedy star herself.

“The physical comedy that she has is out of this world,” Maine said. “If the director’s cut is ever released, it will just be 20 more minutes of Kaitlyn.”

While “Rosaline” doesn’t “feel like a classic period piece,” Dever is definitely open to another era-set feature. Until then, IndieWire critic Kate Erbland praised the “Ticket to Paradise” star’s turn in an epic reconsideration of the “world’s greatest love story.”

“Why not take a jilted, angry woman and turn her into a relatable heroine?” Erbland wrote. “Turns out, even the oldest tales still have fresh, feisty blood in them.”

“Rosaline” is now streaming on Hulu. 

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