29 April 2012


Coming in at number eight is Audrey Hepburn. An actress who is remembered more so for being an icon than an actress, a la Marilyn Monroe. But if you ask me, Audrey Hepburn was a hell of an actress and too bad people don't quite know that. Of course she was beautiful, and glamorous, and stylish, and her speaking voice could melt your heart, but above all else, she was a real actress.

Her most famous film is of course 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's. In this film, Audrey plays the free-spirited and (seemingly) carefree Holly Golightly, a young call girl living in New York City. Always on the lookout for a nice millionaire to marry, she doesn't notice that her downstairs neighbor is absolutely crazy about her.
Originally, the character was written with Marilyn Monroe in mind, and author Truman Capote apparently threw a fit when Audrey was cast instead. But it was for the best. Audrey took a character who was originally hard-bitten and honestly, quite unlikable, and gave her a softer, more vulnerable core surrounded by a tough shell. She tries her best to act like everything is wonderful when, quite frankly, it isn't. I'm not as sure that Marilyn Monroe would have been able to give Holly more complex layers as Audrey was able to.

In 1964, Audrey beat out all other competition for the role of Eliza Doolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady. (Competition included Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews). Directed by George Cukor, Audrey deftly played the ultimate ugly duckling role with sympathy and a bit more depth than originally written.

But  the movie that I remember Audrey Hepburn most for is 1953's Roman Holiday. She plays a princess on the lam who falls in love with newspaperman Gregory Peck. Since I don't believe in spoilers, I won't give anything away, except that Roman Holiday has one of my favorite movie endings ever.

When Roman Holiday was being made, Audrey Hepburn was not a big star. As such, her original credit was supposed to come after the title of the film. However, Gregory Peck realized that she was absolute magic and insisted that her name come above the title, after his. After Roman Holiday was released, the whole world realized Audrey's magic and fell under her spell. She would be awarded with film's highest honor for her performance in the film, the Academy Award as Best Actress of the year.

But above all the movies and the great style, the beautiful, quiet speaking voice, the elegance and poise, what made Audrey Hepburn so special was her heart. She retired and joined forces with UNICEF to help children in poverty and war ravaged areas that nobody else dared go near. Long before it was fahionable for celebrities to champoin a cause, Audrey Hepburn brought awareness and spoke for those who couldn't help or speak for themselves. Even today, nearly twenty years after her death, the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund continues to aid those in need. She was also posthumusly awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in recognition of her outstanding charity work and in honor of a remarkable woman.

No comments:

Post a Comment