The First Look at 'Romeo & Juliet' Reimagining 'Rosaline' Puts a New Spin on the Bard

Kyle Allen and Kaitlyn Dever in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios
Kyle Allen and Kaitlyn Dever in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios

Romeo & Juliet is a formative story for many people. For many readers, it's their first introduction to the work of William Shakespeare and the idea that love doesn't always have a happy ending. (Though, truly, I wish we as a society had managed to take any other lesson from the text beside the idea that dying for love is something we should aspire to, but alas.)  

Whether we want to or not, it's a story we all know, whose tragic beats are deeply familiar to us, no matter which onscreen adaptation of the novel happens to be your favorite. (Baz Luhrman's 1996 Romeo + Juliet forever, thank you.)  But that familiarity often means finding a way to make a retelling of the Bard's most famous tragedy feel fresh is a loser's game.

This is why the idea of Hulu's upcoming film Rosaline feels like such a breath of fresh air. Loosely based on Rebecca Serle's novel When You Were Mine, the Hulu version has chosen to lean into the original play's period roots rather than embrace the book's more contemporary setting and modern flair. (In it, Juliet basically comes back to town to break up Rosaline and Romeo.) 

Kaitlyn Dever and Minnie Driver in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios
Kaitlyn Dever and Minnie Driver in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios

In the world of Shakespeare's play, Rosaline is an unseen character who never appears onstage, and Romeo's affection for her is unrequited. Yet, her outsize influence over him is wildly apparent, and his obsession with her is the only reason he shows up at the Capulet party, where he meets Juliet in the first place. (Thanks, girl, I guess?)

This version of the story is told from Rosaline's POV, who is heartbroken when Romeo's obsession turns to Juliet and is determined to try everything in her power to win him back. What that might entail is anyone's guess, but it seems like some relationship sabotage is undoubtedly going to be in order.

"I really relate to Rosaline and her motives," director Karen Maine told People Magazine. "And think anyone who's ever been ghosted or jilted will also enjoy following her on this fun and unexpected journey. 

Kaitlyn Dever and Sean Teale  in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios
Sean Teale and Kaitlyn Dever in "Rosaline" (Photo: Moris Puccio/20th Century Studios

Dopesick breakout Kaitlyn Dever plays Rosaline, alongside Kyle Allen (The Path) as Romeo and Isabela Merced (Maya and the Three) as Juliet. Other notable faces include Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid's Tale)Minnie Driver (Starstruck)Sean Teale (The Gifted), Spencer Stevenson (The Purge), and Christopher McDonald (Hacks).

The synopsis describes the story as follows.

Left heartbroken after Romeo begins to pursue her cousin Juliet, Rosaline schemes to foil the famous romance and win back her guy in this comedic twist of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Rosaline will premiere on Hulu on October 14.