A new Variety interview with Gwyneth Paltrow on the 20th anniversary of "Shakespeare in Love" has prompted an odd debate: Was Ben Affleck (who has a small part in the film) ever in the running to play Shakespeare?

Paltrow says that at one point, yes, that was definitely the case: "At the last minute, Harvey [Weinstein] wanted Ben Affleck to take over and play Shakespeare." She said she nixed the idea, telling Weinstein , "No, you can’t do that. You have to have an English person.'"

No comment so far from Affleck, but Weinstein, whose inappropriate behavior with Paltrow is also mentioned in the interview, had a response.

The disgraced former movie mogul, who was arrested on rape charges last May, issued a statement saying: "The only other contenders for the role of Will Shakespeare were Russell Crowe and Ethan Hawke, no one else. Ben Affleck did a terrific job as Ned Alleyn, which is the role he was considered for."

Joseph Fiennes, who ended up playing the Bard, told Variety he hadn't known until now that it was Paltrow's intervention that landed him the part. But did Affleck, who later dated Paltrow, know that her intervention supposedly lost him the plum role?

The Oscar-winning role of Viola, by the way, was once Julia Roberts', who left the project after her choice for Shakespeare, Daniel Day-Lewis, passed on the project.

The role then went to Kate Winslet, who also ended up bailing. (We're trying to picture a version now with a post-"Titanic" Kate Winslet and a post-"LA Confidential" Russell Crowe!)

Paltrow herself nearly turned it down since she was recovering from her break-up with Brad Pitt.

In other Paltrow news, she mentioned that she's done playing Pepper Potts.

[Via Variety]