The Secret Love Connection On The Set Of 10 Things I Hate About You

"10 Things I Hate About You" was a quintessential '90s rom-com. It's part of the same collection of films as "O" and Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet"– all modern retellings of a William Shakespeare play. In this case, the film was based on "The Taming of the Shrew." The film featured Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the late Heath Ledger. Gordon-Levitt played Cameron, a new student in his high school who immediately falls for popular girl Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). 

Per their father's rules, Bianca isn't allowed to date unless her shrewd sister Kat (Julia Stiles) is also dating. Determined to date Bianca, self-absorbed Joey (Andrew Keegan) and Cameron convince bad boy Patrick Verona (Ledger) to date Kat. Real feelings ensue — Patrick and Kat fall in love, as do Cameron and Bianca, and everyone has a happy ending for the most part. However, it turns out the young actors went meta on the set of the film. Director Gil Junger revealed that at least two of the teenage co-stars had a real, off-screen romance that made Stiles' tearful reading of her titular poem feel all that more real during production.

Stiles wasn't thinking of Ledger when she read her poem aloud

During an interview with Mira Quien Encontre, Junger relayed that after shooting Stiles' moving scene, she had told him she thought about the person she was "deeply in love with at the time." He went on to reveal that Stiles and co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt dated "for a minute or ten." The thoughts were enough to compel real tears from Stiles, capturing the moment in one take (per E! News). Junger told the outlet "that was one of the magical performances that I've recorded in my lifetime."

On the DVD commentary, the film's co-stars also shared that Stiles had a relationship with on-screen love interest Heath Ledger (via New Zealand Herald). However, Stiles has never commented on either teenage relationship. She told People that for her, the film is comparable to a home video. "I'm glad that people enjoyed it...I don't take that for granted, but I look away pretty quickly," she said. Being that all the main stars except for Gabrielle Union (who was 26) were teenagers at the time, we understand how the classic rom-com can be cringeworthy for the actress.