Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, erm…
Audrey Hepburn is famous for her outstanding beauty, charm and elegance – whether she’s playing a cockney flower-seller or a European princess. However, what if you only know her through seeing her image and haven’t actually seen any of her movies?
Here then is a bluffer’s guide to the screen career of the one and only Ms Hepburn, plus some trivia points to get you by at dinner parties or even during visits to famous New York department stores.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Princess Ann – no, not that one – tired of her regal duties, runs away to – yes, you’ve guessed it, Rome. Once there she befriends an American (Gregory Peck) not knowing he is in fact a hack, ill-bent on securing a story. The daughter of a Dutch Baroness, Audrey Hepburn was ideal casting for the part of a runaway princess in the film Roman Holiday. Similarly her early work as a model stood her in good stead for the part of a reluctant clothes horse in Funny Face.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) makes a bet that he can pass a poor flower girl off as a member of high society. Hepburn wasn’t the first choice for the role of Eliza Doolittle. Top of the list was stage Eliza, Julie Andrews, but her lack of film clout meant she wasn’t offered the part. The fact that Hepburn’s singing was later re-dubbed – by Marni Nixon – may have offered Andrews a touch of cold comfort.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Socialite and escort, Holly Golightly is looking for a rich husband but falls for a writer and kept man (whom she calls ‘Fred’) who moves into her New York apartment block. Hepburn is probably one of the Silver Screens most famous cat owners, thanks to her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but off screen she was more of a dog person and owned a Yorkshire terrier called Mr Famous. The pooch appeared with her in a scene in Funny Face.
Funny Face (1957)
The worlds of Gershwin and Givenchy collide in this story of a wannabe beatnik who agrees to turn model in order to fund her Paris travels and mix with her idols. Hepburn was much more fortunate with this foray into musicals – it’s actually her voice you hear during the show’s musical numbers. She may have regretted taking on the role, however, as it meant turning down Gigi – which was a much bigger hit.
The daughter of a chauffeur falls in love with a rich playboy, when really it’s his shy older brother, Linus, who would be a better love match. Sabrina was remade in 1995 with Julia Ormond in the lead role (opposite Harrison Ford as Linus). As with the original the actress wasn’t the most popular choice for the role. In the original, co-star Humphrey Bogart campaigned for his wife Lauren Bacall to be cast. In the remake Winona Ryder was approached first.
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
A shy, retiring bank clerk is persuaded to help in a heist involving melting down bullion and smuggling it out in the form of mini Eiffel Towers. “Audrey Hepburn in the same film as Sid James, you’ve got to be having a laugh!” Well no, actually we’re not, but we’ll forgive you for not knowing Hepburn was in this one. The story goes that Alec Guinness spotted her on the stage and offered her a role. Unfortunately, commitments meant she could only film the blink-and-you-miss-it part of Chiquita.
Robin and Marian (1976)
Have you ever thought what happened when Robin Hood and his missus got old? No, us neither, but Hollywood did and this was the result. Sean Connery wasn’t the first choice for the role of Robin. Producers wanted Albert Finney to play the role.
Regina (Hepburn) discovers her soon-to-be ex is now definitely her ex – as he’s been murdered. But where has all his money gone? Cary Grant rejected the role of Peter when it was first offered to him and he wasn’t happy with the age gap between him and his co-star. He must have changed his mind though, as he is quoted as saying after filming “All I want for Christmas is to make another movie with Audrey Hepburn.”
A Nun’s Story (1959)
A nun falls in love against the back drop of World War II, except this time she doesn’t have a stack of singing kids to contend with. Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Sister Luke, but lost out to Simone Signoret, for Room at the Top. She was also nominated for Wait Until Dark, Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but won for Roman Holiday.
Paris – When It Sizzles (1964)
A drunken writer hires a staid secretary (Hepburn) in a last-ditch attempt to hit his deadline, but can she get him to the typewriter in time? Eagle-eyed viewers will see that some scenes were shot in the same park that was used for Charade.