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15 of the best modern Shakespeare adaptations to watch now

10 things i hate about you
Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger in "10 Things I Hate About You."Buena Vista
  • "Anyone but You" is based on the Shakespeare play "Much Ado About Nothing."

  • There are many different adaptations of Shakespeare's works to watch.

  • These are the best adaptations that are geared towards a modern audience.

William Shakespeare's plays have been adapted countless times — as straight plays, movies, TV shows, musicals, podcasts, web series, satires, and more.

But often, when his works are adapted, the setting is moved from ancient or medieval times to the present day, like the 2023 rom-com "Anyone but You," which is based on "Much Ado About Nothing."

Here are other modernized adaptations based on Shakespeare's work.

"Anyone but You" incorporates direct quotes from "Much Ado About Nothing."

Glen Powell looking at Sydney Sweeney in front of a table of food
"Anyone but You."Brook Rushton/Sony

It wasn't marketed as such, but 2023's "Anyone but You" is a relatively straightforward adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing," Shakespeare's comedy about scheming and falling in love.

The main characters are named Ben (Glen Powell) and Bea (Sydney Sweeney) after Benedick and Beatrice from the play.

Shakespeare's dialogue is quoted throughout the movie, and the film is filled with references to scenes from the play, such as when Ben and Bea walk by a sign that says, "Assume thy part in some disguise."

That line is from the first scene of "Much Ado About Nothing" and spoken by Don Pedro. In the film, Don Pedro is turned into Pete, Ben's best friend.

"Anyone but You" is currently in theaters.

The identity-switching hijinks from "She's the Man" are lifted directly from "Twelfth Night."

She's The Man
"She's the Man."Paramount Pictures

"Twelfth Night" focuses on twins Viola and Sebastian who are separated due to a storm and must fend for themselves — Viola by dressing as a man named Cesario and working for the Duke of Illyria, and Sebastian by getting rescued by a sea captain.

"She's the Man," released in 2006, keeps the gender-bending aspect of "Twelfth Night" by having Viola (Amanda Bynes) dress up as her twin brother to attend an all-boys high school (Illyria Prep). Instead of working for a duke, though, Viola becomes roommates with Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum).

Both the play and the film prove how much comedy mileage one can get from mistaken identities.

"She's the Man" is streaming on Netflix and Paramount+.

"Romeo + Juliet" updates the time period of "Romeo and Juliet" but keeps Shakespeare's dialogue.

romeo juliet
"Romeo + Juliet."20th Century Fox

"Romeo + Juliet" stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the titular star-crossed lovers who fall in love despite the war between their families.

The 1996 film moves the setting from 14th century Verona, Italy, to 1990s Verona Beach, California. However, the characters don't speak like your typical Californian teenagers — director Baz Luhrmann chose to keep Shakespeare's iambic pentameter in the script.

"Romeo + Juliet" is available to rent.

"Romeo Must Die" showcased the chemistry between Jet Li and Aaliyah.

Romeo Must Die Warner Bros
"Romeo Must Die."Warner Bros.

"Romeo Must Die" was the only film Aaliyah starred in before she died in 2001, and it's also the film that brought us one of her biggest hits, "Try Again."

The story loosely borrows from "Romeo and Juliet," also changing the setting from medieval Italy to 2000s Oakland, California.

The Romeo analog, Han Sing (Jet Li), doesn't have an on-screen romance with Trish O'Day (Aaliyah) — who is clearly meant to be Juliet — but the two connect deeply despite the gang violence erupting around them.

"Romeo Must Die" is available to rent.

"Rosaline" doesn't change the time period of "Romeo and Juliet," but the characters' way of speaking and sense of humor is straight out of the 21st century.

rosaline
"Rosaline."Hulu

"Rosaline" isn't a direct adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet," but is instead the story of Rosaline, Romeo's ex who is briefly mentioned at the beginning of Shakespeare's play before he falls in love with Juliet (who happens to be Rosaline's cousin).

The movie, released in 2022, stars Kaitlyn Dever as Rosaline, a young woman who doesn't play by the rules of medieval Italy and is instead interested in forging her own path.

"Rosaline" is available to rent.

"10 Things I Hate About You" is a high-school version of "The Taming of the Shrew."

10 Things I Hate About You
"10 Things I Hate About You."Buena Vista Pictures

Unlike some of these other adaptations, Shakespeare is directly referenced in 1999's "10 Things I Hate About You." The titular list is actually a sonnet written by one of the characters as an assignment in English class, directly inspired by Shakespeare's "Sonnet 141."

But the plot of the film, in which a new student Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) pays a troubled student Patrick (Heath Ledger) to date Kat (Julia Stiles), so Cameron can date Kat's little sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) is almost exactly the plot of "Taming of the Shrew," give or take a few names.

There are plenty of other Shakespeare references in the film, like Patrick and Kat's last names Verona and Stratford, which are cities with connections to Shakespeare, and their school, Padua High School, which references the setting of the play.

"10 Things I Hate About You" is streaming on Disney+.

"Deliver Us From Eva" is also loosely inspired by "Taming of the Shrew."

Deliver Us From Eva (2003)
"Deliver Us From Eva."Focus Features

"Deliver Us from Eva" (2003) stars Gabrielle Union as Eva, the "shrew" that needs to be tamed.

But instead of a lovesick tutor paying someone off to date Eva, it's the boyfriends of Eva's sisters who are sick of Eva's meddling and decide to pay Ray, a "master player" played by LL Cool J, to date Eva.

"Deliver Us from Eva" is available to rent.

"My Own Private Idaho" switches in and out of the Shakespearean language in "Henry IV" and "Henry V."

A picture of River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves in "My Own Private Idaho."
"My Own Private Idaho."Fine Line Features/New Line Cinema

According to Criterion, "My Own Private Idaho" comes from two scripts and a short story, all written by director Gus Van Sant. Of those, one script was based on "Henry IV."

"Henry IV" is about the king's reign from 1402 to 1403, and his simmering conflict with his son, Prince Hal (who later became Henry V).

In "My Private Idaho," which contains some dialogue lifted straight from the play, Keanu Reeves plays Scott, the son of the mayor of Portland, who's just killing time until he turns 21 and inherits his father's fortune.

"My Own Private Idaho" is available to rent.

The 2011 film "Coriolanus" moves the Roman action of the play to the 21st century.

Coriolanus (2011)
"Coriolanus."Lionsgate; The Weinstein Company

The original Shakespeare play "Coriolanus" is based on the Roman general Caius Marcius Coriolanus, who is eventually banished from Rome after unsuccessfully trying to lead the city.

The 2011 adaptation stars Ralph Fiennes (who also directed the film) as Coriolanus, a Roman general fighting a war against a fictional country that seems to be somewhere in the Balkans.

In both versions, Coriolanus is cast out by his people and forced to team up with his sworn enemy, Tullus (Gerard Butler).

Like "Romeo + Juliet," this version of the story takes place in modern times but keeps the original language written by Shakespeare.

"Coriolanus" is streaming for free on Tubi and the Roku Channel.

"O" stars Mekhi Phifer as Odin James, who is based on the titular character of "Othello."

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"O."Lions Gate Films

"Othello" is the story of a military commander who is manipulated by one of his soldiers, Iago, into murdering his wife, Desdemona.

"O," released in 2001, moves the setting to a present-day high school and stars Phifer as Odin/Othello, Josh Hartnett as Hugo/Iago, and Julia Stiles as Desi/Desdemona.

Just like in the play, Hugo manipulates Odin, but instead of Iago hating Othello for passing him over for a military promotion, Hugo is angry at Odin for being awarded MVP of their basketball team and uses Desi as a pawn.

"O" is streaming on Max.

"Get Over It," based on "A Midsummer Night's Dream," stars multiple 2000s icons.

get over it 2001
"Get Over It."Miramax Films

In 2001's "Get Over It," a group of high schoolers are performing "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as their school musical.

While the film's plot doesn't closely resemble "A Midsummer Night's Dream," it borrows its play-within-a-play aspect, and there's a love quadrangle in both works.

But Shakespeare isn't the draw — it's the stellar cast of early 2000s Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Mila Kunis, Shane West, Sisqó, Colin Hanks, Zoe Saldaña, Carmen Electra, and Martin Short.

"Get Over It" is streaming on PlutoTV.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" updates the play's ancient Greek setting to present-day California.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (2017)
"A Midsummer Night's Dream."Brainstorm Media

The 2017 film "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a more straightforward adaptation of the play, except it takes place in LA, not Athens — but still keeps the magical qualities and the Shakespearean dialogue.

It stars Lily Rabe as Helena, Hamish Linklater as Lysander, Finn Wittrock as Demetrius, Rachael Leigh Cook as Hermia, and Avan Jogia as Puck.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is streaming on Tubi, Pluto TV, Peacock, Sling TV, the Roku Channel, Vudu, and Amazon Freevee.

"Hamlet," or "Hamlet 2000," stars Ethan Hawke as a film student named Hamlet, whose father was the CEO of the Denmark Corporation.

Hamlet (2000)
"Hamlet 2000."Miramax Films

This version of "Hamlet," released in 2000, moves the action from medieval Denmark to modern-day New York City and switches Hamlet from a Danish prince to a film student and son of a businessman.

However, the plot stays the same, with Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) dedicated to finding out what happened to his father, and trying to figure out how his mother Gertrude (Diane Venora), ended up married to his uncle Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan).

Julia Stiles also makes her third appearance on this list, playing Hamlet's love interest Ophelia.

"Hamlet" is available to rent.

"Scotland, PA" is a darkly comedic retelling of "Macbeth" that takes place in 1975.

Scotland, PA (2001)
"Scotland, PA."Lot 47 Films

You might know that "Macbeth," one of Shakespeare's best-known works, takes place inside a Scottish castle named Dunsinane.

But you might not know there was a 2001 black-comedy adaptation of "Macbeth" that placed the plot in a diner named Duncan's Cafe in Scotland, Pennsylvania, in 1975.

The film stars James Le Gros as Joe McBeth and Maura Tierney as Pat McBeth (aka Lady Macbeth).

The TV film "King Lear" changes the setting of the play from the 1100s to a dystopian 21st century.

king lear 2018
"King Lear."BBC Two

Shakespeare's play "King Lear" is based on a mythological British king who, while preparing for his death, is trying to decide how to split his estate.

Of his three daughters, two pretend to love him to get his fortune, while one refuses to fake it and is immediately disowned.

The 2018 adaptation takes place in an alternate, dystopian version of London in the 21st century. Anthony Hopkins plays Lear, while his three daughters are played by Emma Thompson, Emily Watson, and Florence Pugh.

"King Lear" is streaming on Prime Video.

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