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Cate Blanchett was set to play Portia, but had to drop out at the last minute after discovering she was pregnant.


Dustin Hoffman was interested in playing Shylock; however, when he contacted director Michael Radford about it, Al Pacino had already been cast.


The bare-breasted prostitutes were not put in the film to make it more risqué, but rather to add a note of historical authenticity. Venetian law at the time required all prostitutes to bare their breasts because the Christian authorities were concerned about rampant homosexuality in their city.


Director Michael Radford was required to cut the kiss between Antonio and Bassanio for the "Edited for Television" version of this film.


Ian McKellen was set to play Antonio, but had to drop at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts.


Ricky Gervais turned down the role of Launcelot Gobbo, a role which went to his The Office (2001) co-star Mackenzie Crook.


The original play script opens with Antonio, Salarino, and Salanio on a Venice street. It does not open with the scene show at the beginning of the movie where the Jews are being persecuted, and Antonio spits on Shylock.


Shylock's "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech is quoted in Schindler's List (1993) by Joseph Fiennes's brother, Ralph Fiennes.


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