Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
Patrick Stoner: "Universal" is the word we use for Shakespeare. That is, what he wrote 400 years ago still speaks to us today. Do you think that Romeo and Juliet falls into that category?
Leonardo DiCaprio: I absolutely do. The themes of the play are very relevant to today. Two young people raised in an atmosphere of hate, who find love in the midst of it. I wasn't sure at first that it WOULD relate, but when I got more involved in the project and realized how everything fit the times we're living in, it all seemed to fit.
Claire Danes: Well, Shakespeare had a powerful grasp on human nature. The story is about young love AND it's about a society that is so corrupt, and so chaotic, and so violent that you have a lost generation.
Stoner: Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Danes: Yeah, it does. And everyone is always saying that our society is degenerating into a pile of mush, and Shakespeare paints a picture of a society that's grappling with all of that hundreds of years ago.
DiCaprio: Yeah, and in this society you have to realize that you can be picked off at any time. So, Romeo is a kind of rebel -- he rebels against his family, because he resents being raised in an atmosphere of hate, and he rebels against his peers, because their only response to hate is more hate, more violence. It's all very relevant.
Stoner: What about YOUR peers? Do you have any advice for young people?
DiCaprio: As a matter of fact, I do. It's this whole drug thing. It's very upsetting. You see people who have this tremendous need to find a different reality, and drugs seem to be the easiest way to do that. It's certainly not the answer though; it's a trap. I've seen this with my friends, in my personal life. Even if you have to run away from everything -- your friends, whatever -- it's just not the thing to do. There's no way out. I hate to say "Don't do it," because I know that doesn't usually work. But I can tell anyone, it's just no good.