Together with a short art film, Paolo Roversi searches for the essence of Juliet

Verona, 3 December 2019 — Paolo Roversi’s 2020 Pirelli Calendar “Looking for Juliet” was presented to the public today at Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico.
Drawing inspiration from Shakespeare’s timeless drama, Paolo Roversi has tapped into the “Juliet that exists in every woman” with Claire Foy, Mia Goth, Chris Lee, Indya Moore, Rosalía, Stella Roversi, Yara Shahidi, Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson as the protagonists of this 47th edition of The Cal™.
This year represents the first time the calendar merges photography with cinema as it is accompanied by a short film. In the 18-minute film, Paolo Roversi plays himself as a film director interviewing candidates for the role of Juliet, who pass one-by-one before the director’s lens to portray the multifaceted character with a broad gamut of emotions and expressions.
The scenario unfolds in two phases. In the first, the protagonists are shown arriving at the set, without makeup or costume. They sit and talk with Roversi about the project under way, each one vying to be chosen, telling the director about their personal experiences and how they envisage Juliet. In this way, the actresses reveal their intimate, personal side. In the second phase they put on the costumes devised to transform them for their personal interpretation of Shakespeare’s heroine. The idea is to portray a story in which reality and fiction dovetail and their distinctions blur, as in a hazy photograph.
“I was looking for a pure soul, someone full of innocence that combined strength, beauty, tenderness and courage,” observes Roversi. “I found this in the glimmer of an eye, in the gestures and words of Emma and Yara, Indya and Mia and in the smiles and tears of Kristen and Claire…in the voices and chants of Chris and Rosalía. In Stella we have the innocence. There’s a Juliet in every woman,” he concludes. “And I will never stop looking for her.”
The photo-shoot took place in May, and the 2020 Pirelli Calendar is the first to be created by an Italian photographer, who chose Verona for the setting, the city that is indelibly tied to the young woman’s fate; but also Paris, where Roversi has lived for the past forty years.
As a passionate opera-lover of long standing, Roversi wanted to create an object with a unique graphic design deeply inspired by the opera libretto. The 2020 Calendar comprises 132 pages, with the monthly calendar on the cover, along with sections of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and 58 photos in both colour and black-and-white capturing the story’s protagonists and the city of Verona. The cover opens to reveal a drawing of a firmament which represents the universe and, ideally, contains and envelops the story of Juliet, making it eternal. The front and back covers are emblazoned with the gilded letters of the calendar itself, highlighting the date of Juliet’s birth, her first meeting with Romeo, their wedding, and their death. These dates are complemented by the birth dates of the stars of the Calendar, whose names are scattered on the cover, among the constellations, creating a kind of poetic firmament.
The many behind-the-scenes moments during the photo-shoots and filming, along with the characters and backstage stories of the 2020 Pirelli Calendar can be found online at the dedicated site, which also offers the chance to explore the over fifty-year history of The Cal™ with films, interviews, photographs, and hitherto unpublished texts.
What was your reaction when they asked you to curate the photography for the new Pirelli Calendar?
For years I’d fantasized about doing the Pirelli Calendar, because for a photographer it’s like the holy grail, and I am very happy that this thing actually came into being. It’s a dream project: Pirelli gives you complete freedom to unleash your ideas, along with every possible backing to enable you to realise something of the highest quality that will resonate all around the globe. I have seen nearly all the past Pirelli Calendars that came before this one: they are all amazing, each one created by photographers of world renown. Knowing this, obviously I was keen to do my absolute best for the project, given the calendar’s tradition of utmost quality.
So what led you to this particular concept?
Well, I wanted to create something that united the idea of beauty and love. The idea couples simplicity with high impact. Love and beauty have been intrinsic to my research for many years now. And it went without saying that, as an Italian photographer working for an all-Italian project, the story had to tie with Italy itself.
So this gave you the idea of searching for the “new” Juliet?
Actually, there’s no new or old Juliet… “Looking for Juliet” is basically the search for an ideal, it’s chasing a dream, across the ages. It is the quest for the ideal woman who embodies femininity, the sweetness of love, and the combination of fragility and strength, shyness and rebellion… Juliet is all of these. The tragedy of her story conveys the shadowy border between dream and reality, between a tear and a smile, happiness and grief, good and evil; I’ve always been drawn to this fragile border, this almost ambiguous frontier. All my photography follows this subtle line of inquiry, and perhaps the beauty I am seeking, the mystery I’m trying to unravel, is that subtle line itself.
How about your choice of cast?
I tracked down various women from different backgrounds and cultures, each one with a wholly different personal history. The result was this astounding cast of people from all corners of the world, and so it was no easy task organising the sessions, but thanks to the fantastic coordination skills of our casting director Piergiorgio Del Moro, everything fell into place. We enrolled actresses, singers, and artists of top calibre, each one bringing different talents and personalities who fully understood the project under way and were keen to take part in this Juliet adventure. By reading passages of Shakespeare’s tragedy simply telling episodes of their own lives and careers, these individuals captured moments of unique emotion that left all those present enraptured.

With so many women around, the figure of Romeo seems sidelined…
Not true, Romeo is very present. He’s essential to the story. Without Romeo there’d be no Juliet. And when they are united, they embody love itself. Theirs is a universal message of love and beauty, because to my mind beauty and love have no borders, whether cultural or religious. They are universal.
Is there anything that particularly struck you while working on the Calendar?
There were tons of surprises actually, and surprise plays a significant role in my work. The unexpected, the chance event, the gamble, are essential and ever-present components of the process. While working on the Calendar we shot a movie, which itself was full of exciting and unforeseen incidents.
So your chosen celebrities also performed?
Indeed they did: my “Juliets” were not just captured in the photos, they also acted in the film we shot on the photo sets in Paris and Verona, the birthplace of Juliet and where the calendar itself was presented. This idea of coupling the calendar with a movie is new, and so I was delighted to be involved: previously there were plenty of videos of what went on backstage, but mine is not behind-the-scenes footage, it’s a film that runs parallel to the 2020 Pirelli Calendar, sharing its thematic material but via a different visual medium.
In the end, did you find the Juliet you were looking for?
I guess I’m still looking for her, and will never give up, because in truth Juliet is a dream and will never become a reality. And this is what makes her so appealing, her beauty and mystery. But I hope that the Juliets I offer here will make people dream.

1964 Robert Freeman in Majorca, Spain
Jane Lumb, Sonny Freeman Drane, Marisa Forsyth
1965 Brian Duffy in Monaco and on the French Riviera, South of France
Pauline Dukes, Annabella, Virginia, Pauline Stone, Jeannette Harding
1966 Peter Knapp in Al Hoceima, Morocco
Shirley Ann, Sue
1967 Not published
1966 Harri Peccinotti in Djerba, Tunisia
Ulla Randall, Elisa Ngai, Pat Booth, Jill La Tour
1969 Harri Peccinotti in Big Sur, California
1970 Francis Giacobetti on Paradise Island, Bahamas
Alexandra Bastedo, Anak, Pegga, Paula Martine
1971 Francis Giacobetti in Jamaica, Greater Antilles
Caileen Bell, Angela McDonald, Kate Howard, Christine Townson, Gail Allen
1972 Sarah Moon at Villa Les Tilleuls, Paris
Suzanne Moncurr, Mick Lindburg, Boni Pfeifer, Inger Hammer, Magritt Rahn, Barbara Trenthan
1973 Brian Duffy in London, United Kingdom
Erica Creer, Sue Paul, Nicki Howorth, Kubi, Nicky Allen, Jane Lumb, Kate Howard, Vida, Penny Steel, Kari Ann, Elizabeth, Vicky Wilks
1974 Hans Feurer in the Seychelles, Africa
Eva Nielson, Kim, Marana, Chichinou, Kathy Cochaux
1975-83 Not published
1984 Uwe Ommer in the Bahamas, Central America
Angie Layne, Suzy-Ann Watkins, Jane Wood, Julie Martin
1985 Norman Parkinson in Edinburgh, Scotland
Anna, Cecilia, Iman, Lena, Sherry
1986 Bert Stern in the Cotswolds, England
Julia Boleno, Jane Harwood, Louise King, Deborah Leng, Suzy Yeo, Beth Toussaint, Gloria, Joni Flyn, Caroline Hallett, Samantha, Juliet, Clare Macnamara
1987 Terence Donovan in Bath, United Kingdom
Ione Brown, Colette Brown, Naomi Campbell, Gillian De Turville, Waris Dirie
1988 Barry Lategan in London, United Kingdom
Hugo Bregman, Briony Brind, Victoria Dyer, Nicola Keen, Kim Lonsdale, Sharon MacGorian, Naomi Sorkin, Carol Straker
1989 Joyce Tennyson at the Polaroid Studios, New York
Lisa Whiting, Nicky Nagel, Danielle Scott, Brigitte Luzar, Gilda Meyer-Nichof, Kathryn Bishop, Susan Allcorn, Susan Waseen, Rosemarie Griego, Akura Wall, Gretchen Heichholz, Rebecca Glen
1990 Arthur Elgort in Seville, Spain
Laure Bogeart, Laurie Bernhardt, Christina Cadiz, Anna Klevhag, Florence Poretti, Debrah Saron
1991 Clive Arrowsmith in France
Alison Fitzpatrick, Lynne Koester, Monika Kassner, Paola Siero, Nancy Liu, Katherina Trug, Jackie Old Coyote, Tracy Hudson, Rachel Boss, Carole Jimenez, Saskia Van Der Waarde, Rina Lucarelli, Susie Hardie-Bick
1992 Clive Arrowsmith in Almeria, Spain
Alison Fitzpatrick, Julienne Davis, Judi Taylor
1993 John Claridge in the Seychelles, Africa
Christina Estrada, Barbara Moors, Claudie
1994 Herb Ritts on Paradise Island, Bahamas
Karen Alexander, Helena Christensen, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss
1995 Richard Avedon in New York, United States
Nadja Auermann, Farrah Summerford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington
1996 Peter Lindberg at El Mirage, California, United States
Eva Herzigova, Nastassja Kinski, Kristen Mc Menamy, Navia, Carre Otis, Tatjanna Patitz
1997 Richard Avedon in New York, United States
Honor Fraser, Ling, Cordula, Sophie Patitz, Ines Sastre, Waris Dirie, Anna Klevhag, Monica Bellucci, Gisele, Kristina, Tatiana, Irina, Jenny Shimizu, Marie Sophie, Brandy, Julia Ortiz, Nikki Uberti
1998 Bruce Weber in Miami, United States
Tanga Moreau, Stella Tenant, Milla Jovovich, Carolyn Murphy, Eva Herzigova, Patricia Arquette, Shalom Harlow, Kristy Hume, Elaine Irwin Mellencamp, Georgina Grenville, Kiara, Rachel Roberts, Daryl Hannah. Guests: Dermot Mulroney, Fred Ward, Ewan Mc Gregor, Dan O’Brien, BB King, Sonny Rollins, Bono, Paul Cadmus, Francesco Clemente, John Malkovich, Kelly Slater, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Mitchum.
1999 Herb Ritts in Los Angeles, United States
Chandra North, Sophie Dahl, Karen Elson, Michele Hicks, Carolyn Murphy, Shirley Mallmann, Laetitia Casta, Audrey Marnay, Elsa Benitez, Bridget Hall, Angela Lindvall, Alek Wek
2000 Annie Leibovitz in Rhinebeck, New York, United States
Lauren Grant, June Omura, Mireille Radwan-Dana, Laetitia Casta, Alek Wek, Julie Worden, Jacqui Agyepong, Marjorie Folkman
2001 Mario Testino in Naples, Italy
Gisele Bündchen, Aurelie Claudel, Karen Elson, Rhea Durham, Marianna Weickert, Fernanda Tavares, Angela Lindvall, Ana Claudia Michael, Liisa Winkler, Noemi Lenoir, Frankie Rayder, Carmen Kass
2002 Peter Lindbergh in Los Angeles, United States
Lauren Bush, Erika Christensen, Amy Smart, Bridget Moynahan, James King, Shannyn Sossamon, Selma Blair, Kiera Chaplin, Brittany Murphy, Monet Mazur, Rachel Leigh Cook, Mena Suvari, Julia Stiles
2003 Bruce Weber in Cilento and Paestum, Italy
Jessica Miller, Lisa Steiffert, Heidi Klum, Isabeli Fontana, Mariacarla Boscono, Natalia Vodianova, Karolina Kurkova, Sienna Miller, Alessandra Ambrosio, Rania Raslan, Bridget Hall, Sophie Dahl, Eva Riccobono, Yamila Diaz-Rahi, Filippa Hamilton, Valentina Stilla, Enrico Lo Verso, Alessandro Gassman, Tomasino Ganesh, Marcelo Boldrini, Jak Krauszer, Stephan Ferrara, Ajay Lamas
2004 Nick Knight in London, England
Adina Fohlin, Amanda Moore, Jessica Miller, Natalia Vodianova, Karolina Kurkova, Mariacarla Boscono, Esther de Jong, Frankie Rayder, Liberty Ross, Dewi Driegen, Ai Tominaga, Pollyanna McIntosh, Alek Wek
2005 Patrick Demarchelier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Adriana Lima, Julia Stegner, Michelle Buswell, Erin Wasson, Marija Vujovic, Fillipa Hamilton, Liliane Ferrarezi, Valentina, Diana Dondoe, Isabeli Fontana, Naomi Campbell
2006 Mert and Marcus in Cap d’Antibes, France
Jennifer Lopez, Gisele Bündchen, Guinevere Van Seenus, Kate Moss, Karen Elson, Natalia Vodianova
2007 Inez and Vinoodh in California
Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Lou Doillon, Naomi Watts, Hilary Swank
2008 Patrick Demarchelier in Shanghai, China
Maggie Cheung, Agyness Deane, Lily Donaldson, Du Juan, Doutzen Kroes, Catherine McNeil, Mo Wan Dan, Sasha Pivovarova, Coco Rocha, Caroline Trentini, Gemma Ward
2009 Peter Beard at Abu Camp/Jack’s Camp, Botswana
Daria Werbowy, Emanuela De Paula, Isabeli Fontana, Lara Stone, Rianne Ten Haken, Malgosia Bela, Mariacarla Boscono
2010 Terry Richardson in Bahia, Brazil
Daisy Lowe, Georgina Stojiljokovic, Rosie Huntington, Eniko Mihalik, Catherine McNeil, Ana Beatriz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Marloes Horst, Lily Cole, Miranda Kerr, Gracie Carvalho
2011 Karl Lagerfeld in Paris, France
Bianca Balti, Elisa Sednaoui, Freja Beha Erichsen, Isabeli Fontana, Magdalena Frackowiak, Anja Rubik, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Lakshmi Menon, Heidi Mount, Erin Wasson, Natasha Poly, Lara Stone, Daria Werbowy, Iris Strubegger, Jeneil Williams, Baptiste Giabiconi, Sebastian Jondeau, Brad Kroenig, Garrett Negg, Jake Davis
2012 Mario Sorrenti in Murtoli, Corsica
Isabeli Fontana, Natasha Poly, Saskia De Brauw, Lara Stone, Joan Small, Guinevere Van Seenus, Malgosia Bela, Edita Vilkevictiute, Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich, Margareth Made, Rinko Kikuchi
2013 Steve McCurry in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Isabeli Fontana, Adriana Lima, Sonia Braga, Marisa Monte, Elisa Sedanoui, Petra Nemcova, Hanna Ben Abdesslem, Liya Kebede, Karlie Kloss, Kyleigh Kuhn, Summer Rayne Oakes
2014 Celebrations for the 50th birthday of the Calendar in Milan
1986 Calendar by Helmut Newton, in Monte Carlo and in Chianti
Antonia Dell’Atte, Susie Bick, Betty Prado
2015 Steven Meisel in New York, United States
Karen Elson, Anna Ewers, Isabeli Fontana, Gigi Hadid, Candice Huffine, Adriana Lima, Sasha Luss, Cameron Russel, Joan Smalls, Natalia Vodianova, Raquel Zimmerman
2016 Annie Leibovitz in New York, United States
Yao Chen, Natalia Vodianova, Kathleen Kennedy, Agnes Gund e Sadie Rain Hope-Gund, Serena Williams, Fran Lebowitz, Mellody Hobson, Ava Duvernay, Tavi Gevinson, Shrin Neshat, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Amy Schumer
2017 Peter Lindbergh in Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, London and Le Touquet
Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, Charlotte Rampling, Lea Seydoux, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet, Robin Wright, Zhang Ziyi, Anastasia Ignatova
2018 Tim Walker in London, United Kingdom
Adut Akech, Adwoa Aboah, Alpha Dia, Djimon Hounsou, Duckie Thot, Jaha Dukureh, King Owusu, Lil Yachty, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Campbell, RuPaul, Sasha Lane, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Slick Woods, Thando Hopa, Whoopi Goldberg, Wilson Oryema Zoe Bedeaux
2019 Albert Watson in Miami and New York
Laetitia Casta, Misty Copeland, Julia Garner, Gigi Hadid, Sergei Polunin, Calvin Royal III, Alexander Wang, Astrid Eika
2020 Paolo Roversi in Paris and Verona
Claire Foy, Mia Goth, Chris Lee, Indya Moore, Rosalía, Stella Roversi, Yara Shahidi, Kristen Stewart, and Emma Watson