10 Things I Hate About You was released 22 years ago today. The film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and launched the careers of many actors who appeared in the cult classic movie. Let’s dive into the significance of the story and how it became the catalyst to the success of actors we know and love today like our good sis, Gabrielle Union.
The movie, inspired by Shakespeare, centers on two very different sister much like the play The Taming of the Shrew. The younger sister, Bianca, can’t get married until her independent sister Katherine is wed. Comparable to the film, 10 Things I Hate About You, the premise is that a teenaged Bianca can’t date until Kat does. The movie used many of the play’s character names and adding a modern twist to the plot points.
In the same breath, by the end of the movie Kate becomes “tamed” just as Katherine does in the play.
There are small details that follow the play’s elements such as how the location shifts from he Italian city of Padua to Padua High School in the film. The story follows the Stratford sisters, which is a nod to William Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon.
One of the film’s characters, Mandella, is obsessed with Shakespeare and brings him up throughout the movie. She gets a Shakesperean “promposal” complete with a themed gown that is the icing on the cake.
The film written by screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah, originally got the idea idea for the film after witnessing the success of teenage drama Clueless a few years prior. McCullah told The Script Lab, “We knew we wanted to write a teen movie and when Clueless came out. We thought Amy Heckerling was a genius for contemporizing a classic, so we decided to try that as well.”
Following Clueless‘ widely successful framework, which was inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, eventually led McCullah and Smith to adapt Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Smith and McCullah went on to create more classic, hilarious rom-coms such as Legally Blonde, She’s The Man and The House Bunny.
Aside from being a timeless movie, 10 Things I Hate About You also propelled the careers of actors Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gabrielle Union.
Stiles, who portrayed the main character Kat in the movie, eventually starred in the other teen classics like Save the Last Dance, and she is known for her performance in the Bourne franchise as well.
We all know the name Ledger, playing Patrick Verona, as he went on to star in Brokeback Mountain and famously The Dark Knight, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor after his unfortunate death in 2008.
Gordon-Levitt, initially reluctant to take on the role as Cameron in the film, later starred in 500 Days of Summer, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Union, portraying Chasity, is reputable for so many projects thereafter. She was the oldest person casted in the high school film at the age of 26 years old. In comparison, Oleynik was 17, Gordon-Levitt and Stiles were 18, and Ledger was 19. Gabrielle Union did not miss a beat. Shortly after 10 Things I Hate About You, Union would go on to star in other classic high school-based rom-coms like Bring It On and Love and Basketball.
In the 2019 interview with The New York Times, Union said, “I was over 10 years older than my younger cast members, some of whom were still in high school. It was kind of like, how close is this to my high-school years? Do I look crazy playing a 15-year-old? Don’t mention Earth, Wind & Fire or give away your age.”
Safe to say, Black don’t crack is not a figurative expression but one to live by. Union and the rest of her 10 Things I Hate About You cast mates went on to become award-winning actors in other classic films.
The cult classic is now celebrating its’ 22 year anniversary, and it may be worth watching the film once more. Happy Anniversary and thanks for helping fans discover some of their favorite actors in the process!