Jump to content

 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
edonline

Emma Thompson: 'Audrey Hepburn couldn't act'

Recommended Posts

Besides being the star of three successful Broadway shows, and the biggest selling recording of all-time, Julie Andrews appeared, at least once, on virtually every entertainment program of the day (Dinah Shore's Chevy Showcase, The Patty Page Show, The Garry Moore Shore, Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, etc.), always as "and special guest star, Julie Andrews". Additionally, she co-starred with Bing Crosby in the television musical drama, *High Tor* (which aired even before MFL opened on Broadway), was the star of *Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella* (the most-watched entertainment special, ever), plus starred in the enormously popular specials, *The Fabulous Fifties*, *The Broadway of Lerner & Lowe* and *Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall*, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award. And the 10th anniversary episode of *What's My Line?* Remember, this was when we had 3 television channels. Today when something is number 1, about 22 million people have tuned in. Back then it was triple that amount. In the case of Cinderella, it was 107 million, not counting Canada. This was all prior to Jack Warner claiming no one outside of New York knows who she is. He also discounted the UK, where she was already known, from childhood. If he meant people in France don't know her, but they know Audrey, he'd been correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with just about everything you've just said & I want to add the wonderful art direction & costuming by Cecil Beaton that was one of the few things I liked about the movie. I loved the Ascot scene costuming but couldn't stand the hair style on AH going to the embassy ball. Like Wendy Hiller too, in the original, now there's a talent!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=clearskies wrote:}{quote}

> I agree with just about everything you've just said & I want to add the wonderful art direction & costuming by Cecil Beaton that was one of the few things I liked about the movie. I loved the Ascot scene costuming but couldn't stand the hair style on AH going to the embassy ball. Like Wendy Hiller too, in the original, now there's a talent!

 

For as much time and effort that Beaton put into the sets and costumes for the piece (both show and film), he was pretty awful at hairstyles and makeup. Audrey looked to be wearing a really cheap wig, during the early parts of the film, then she goes into ridiculous-looking (almost freakish) hairstyle for the ball, and all the make-up screams 60s!! For some strange reason, his sets aren't particularly impressive in the film, but on stage, they made you gasp! Perhaps because on film, they just look like sets. They never really ever look real. Whereas on stage, you're just so impressed by what they did. Especially back then. Now they can do almost anything. I never understood why he put Eliza in black and white for the Ascot scene, in the film. Of course, that outfit became the iconic symbol of the film. On stage, she entered in a lavender dress that stopped everyone cold.

 

I've tried to post of photo of it, but I suppose I've forgotten how to post pictures, because no matter what I did, no photo!

 

 

 

Edited by: johnm_001 on Aug 14, 2010 4:59 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cecil Beaton did his best work on "Gigi". I've never seen a more beautiful "Bell Epoque" film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JulieAscot1.jpg

 

Still cannot figure out how to post a photo (I use to know), but here is the photo I referred to in my earlier post. Beaton's Ascot dress that was not black and white.

 

Edited by: johnm_001 on Aug 14, 2010 6:46 PM Because I did figure out how to post it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that I remember it, Beaton didn't do the set design for the show. That was Oliver Smith, which would explain the stark difference between the show and the film. Beaton did the production design on the film, with detailed set design done by an associate. It could have used Oliver Smith! And I figured out how to post. Here's an example of Smith's original MFL sets from the Broadway and London productions of the musical.

 

MFL3a.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=edonline wrote:}{quote}

> http://www.digitalspy.com/showbiz/news/a258769/emma-thompson-hepburn-couldnt-act.html

>

> Emma Thompson: 'Hepburn couldn't act'

> Monday, August 9 2010, 3:57pm EDT

> By Clare Wiley

>

> Emma Thompson has admitted that she thinks Audrey Hepburn 'couldn't act or sing', calling the actress 'fantastically twee'.

>

> The Love Actually star, who is currently working on a screenplay for a remake of My Fair Lady, insisted that she 'isn't fond' of Hepburn's portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in the 1964 musical.

>

> According to WENN, Thompson explained: "I was thrilled to be asked to do it because, having a look at it, I thought that there needs to be a new version. I'm not hugely fond of the film. I find Audrey Hepburn fantastically twee.

>

> "Twee is whimsy without wit. It's mimsy-mumsy sweetness without any kind of bite. And that's not for me. She can't sing and she can't really act, I'm afraid. I'm sure she was a delightful woman ? and perhaps if I had known her I would have enjoyed her acting more, but I don?t and I didn?t, so that's all there is to it, really."

>

> She added: "It was [costumer] Cecil Beaton's designs and [Hepburn's co-star] Rex Harrison that gave it its extraordinary quality. I don't do Audrey Hepburn. I think that she's a guy thing? It's high time that the extraordinary role of Eliza was reinterpreted, because it's a very fantastic part for a woman."

 

If one is going to judge Hepburn's ability on the basis of MY FAIR LADY, a film for which she was, indeed, ill-suited, one might very well reach the entirely reasonable conclusion that she wasn't a very good actress.

 

If one examines ROMAN HOLIDAY, a film whose success rests almost entirely on Hepburn's shoulders due to the miscasting of Gregory Peck, or THE NUN'S STORY, it's all but inevitable that one would come to the exactly opposite conclusion. I think it's safe to say that the judgment of the directors of those two films, William Wyler and Fred Zinnemann, in building those two films around her talent, somewhat outweighs Ms Thompson's decidedly revisionist opinion.

 

I think, in fact, that Thompson's statement may reflect her sense that, as an actress, she is incapable of portraying the very sophisticated woman-child in which Hepburn specialized. There may even be a bit of envy and resentment at the heart of Thompson's words. Those feelings really don't give her license to make a blanket comment damning for all time the gifts that Hepburn possessed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>Sprocket_Man you wrote:

> I think, in fact, that Thompson's statement may reflect her sense that, as an actress, she is incapable of portraying the very sophisticated woman-child in which Hepburn specialized. There may even be a bit of envy and resentment at the heart of Thompson's words. Those feelings really don't give her license to make a blanket comment damning for all time the gifts that Hepburn possessed.

 

It's not a bit of envy or resentment at the heart of Thompson's words . . . It's just a crazy PR ploy and nothing more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the photos. For some reason or other, while I was a young theater goer when MFL came out, I never saw the stage version. Alas...don't have that memory...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, I tend to think it's a PR ploy too. Look at us, 16 pages already, 2,450 views, & this is just TCM. I'll bet we all will see Thompson's version...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you.

 

What really has been irritating me the most about this thread is the "supposed" belief that what Emma Thompson said in her interview is supposed to justify reasons that she may feel inadequate to play such a part that Ms. Hepburn played in the first place.

 

For one thing Ms. Thompson is NOT playing this part. She is writing the screenplay. So enough already about how she may or may not feel regarding this part that Ms. Hepburn and Ms. Andrews played.

 

The second thing is this:

 

Why all the venom directed toward Ms. Thompson? She is surely allowed to have her own opinion. All of you who have decided to treat Ms. Thompson as Suspect Number One should rethink your comments.

 

For one thing it borders on lunacy. How many times have any of you defended other actors, or have gone out of your way to describe how you feel about other actors. I was reading comments made by Jill Haworth when she appeared in the John Wayne/Kirk Douglas film In Harms Way. All she had to say about Wayne was negative comments. And yet I never have heard anyone take her to task for the things she said about Wayne. Although many here on the message boards have indicated that they do not like Wayne. Could have been his politics, or the way he treated his involvement in WWII, or the simple fact that they have no regard for his acting ability. Whatever.

 

The simple fact of the matter is this:

 

Emma Thompson made her comments the day on or slightly before/after she received her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As others have stated it could have been her goal to publicize her upcoming movie remake and talk about how she did not like Ms. Hepburn's acting. I think she may have made her comments about Ms. Hepburn solely based on the fact that she WAS being interviewed and she may have been asked about her upcoming projects and she may have had the chance to say something which to many people here on the thread felt like a slap in the face toward Ms. Hepburn.

 

Personally I think all of this is really as I said earlier, Much Ado About Nothing. Who really cares?

 

Ms Hepburn has been dead for over 15 years. When does the statue of limitations run out so that someone can say a negative thing about someone?

 

I mean, come on, get real. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Yo may not like her opinion, but as far as I am concerned, Ms. Thompson does not feel the slightest bit afraid for having an opinion.

 

Oh, and by the way.... I like Audrey Hepburn. I just do not agree that she was a great actress. In fact, I am of the opinion that she was a fluff of an actress (in many of her roles) and that Ms. Thompson could act her / take her to the proverbial acting cleaners any day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This entire thread is opinions. Whether we agree or disagree with Emma. Whether we think she was rude or not. Whether we like the original My Fair Lady film or not. Emma is entitled to her opinion but *so are we*.

 

I also see very few people attacking Emma Thompson. Maybe early in the thread but it is just on a message board that barely anyone is going to see anyways.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In regards to what this thread or discussion represents, it simple enough to comprehend that Thompson struck a nerve among many movie fans here. So, it?s only practical for anyone or member of this TCM web site to openly respond and keep responding out of their love and devotion to Audrey. Thompson certainly has the right, as we all do, to voice an opinion, it?s just that she may have forgotten the vast amount of fans Audrey has had over the course of one of the most celebrated and admired careers of any actress in motion pictures. It?s easy to say that because Audrey?s been dead for so long, it may not matter, but on a web site like this one: IT DOES MATTER!! I?d like to pose a simple question to Miss Thompson and that is how does she actually perceive Audrey?s historic film career? Does Thompson even understand the era and style that Audrey came from? What basis does Thompson find to say that despite most everyone agreeing that Audrey was wrong for the role in MFL, why then go to other extremes of criticizing Audrey as an overall actress? I don?t believe a word of what Thompson is saying! It sounds all too oblivious to me, having been part of the business and now retired; Thompson?s overstepping her boundaries in order to promote her script. It?s all that simple for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=fxreyman wrote:}{quote}

> Why all the venom directed toward Ms. Thompson? She is surely allowed to have her own opinion. All of you who have decided to treat Ms. Thompson as Suspect Number One should rethink your comments.

>

> For one thing it borders on lunacy. How many times have any of you defended other actors, or have gone out of your way to describe how you feel about other actors. I was reading comments made by Jill Haworth when she appeared in the John Wayne/Kirk Douglas film In Harms Way. All she had to say about Wayne was negative comments. And yet I never have heard anyone take her to task for the things she said about Wayne.

 

Why is Thompson being subjected to criticism in some quarters? Because he statement about Hepburn wasn't couched as an opinion, but one of straight fact (as though something so subjective could ever be quantified or seriously perceived as "fact"). Yes, one can deduce that anything that passes from anyone's lips is an opinion unless the speaker explicitly claims it to be a statement of fact but, as a practical matter, most people are not going to take the time and trouble to make the distinction. They will accept it as fact unless the speaker states it's just an opinion, not the other way 'round.

 

Had Thompson made a statement criticizing a living individual's moral turpitude or conduct, couched in the same terms of not explicitly indicating it was opinion and not fact, she would be open to a defamation lawsuit.

 

As for Haworth, if she criticized Wayne's abilities as an actor it's probably because she was probably pretty close to the mark. Wayne was, for the most part, a personality, one that the public happened to like immensely. He was lucky to work with directors, primarily John Ford and Howard Hawks, who knew how to exploit that personality to its best advantage, and craft material that, in some generally isolated instances, actually managed to pull a creditable performance out of Wayne (I have to admit that in RED RIVER and, particularly THE SEARCHERS, he is very, very good). This is not very far removed from what Wayne had said on occasion about his acting ability.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Sprocket_Man wrote:}{quote}

>

> Why is Thompson being subjected to criticism in some quarters? Because he statement about Hepburn wasn't couched as an opinion, but one of straight fact (as though something so subjective could ever be quantified or seriously perceived as "fact"). Y

>

 

> As for Haworth, if she criticized Wayne's abilities as an actor it's probably because she was probably pretty close to the mark. Wayne was, for the most part, a personality, one that the public happened to like immensely. He was lucky to work with directors, primarily John Ford and Howard Hawks, who knew how to exploit that personality to its best advantage, and craft material that, in some generally isolated instances, actually managed to pull a creditable performance out of Wayne (I have to admit that in RED RIVER and, particularly THE SEARCHERS, he is very, very good). This is not very far removed from what Wayne had said on occasion about his acting ability.

 

"*I* was thrilled to be asked to do it because, having a look at it, *I* thought that there needs to be a new version. *I'm* not hugely fond of the film. *I* find Audrey Hepburn fantastically twee.

 

"Twee is whimsy without wit. It's mimsy-mumsy sweetness without any kind of bite. And that's not for *me*. She can't sing and she can't really act, I'm afraid. I'm sure she was a delightful woman ? and perhaps if *I* had known her *I* would have enjoyed her acting more, but *I* don?t and *I* didn?t, so that's all there is to it, really."

 

How can that statement, so personalized, be taken as anything but someone's opinion?

 

Your description of John Wayne (with which I agree), is exactly how I would describe Audrey Hepburn. My opinion. Nothing more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife just reminded me of something we read in Cary Grant's biography. He was asked to do Higgins, after the hoopla surrounding Andrews. It was because of the backlash that he had second thoughts about doing the role. True or not, I have no idea, but here's what it says:

 

Hepburn was offered $1.1 million to do Eliza Doolittle. Hepburn, however, was reluctant to sign-on, and with good reason. Julie Andrews had become a legitimate show business phenomenon because of *My Fair Lady,* and everyone assumed she would repeat her performance in the movie. Warner's bypassing of Andrews caused an uproar, and because of it, Grant was reluctant to try and replace Rex Harrison, who happened to be a good friend of his. After months of pursuit by Warner, Grant officially passed on Warner's $1.5 million (approximately $11 million in today's dollars) offer, telling him "No matter how good I am, I'll either be compared to Rex, and I don't think I'll be better than he is, or I'll be told I'm imitating him, which isn't good for him, or for me. And, not only will I not do it, but if you don't hire Rex, I won't even go see it."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds like Cary made the right decision, and he gave the right reason for saying no. We still have him and Audrey in another film. It's just unfortunate that Julie did not get to do Eliza.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> It sounds like Cary made the right decision, and he gave the right reason for saying no. We still have him and Audrey in another film. It's just unfortunate that Julie did not get to do Eliza.

 

 

Cary actually wanted Audrey for Father Goose but My Fair Lady conflicted so he went with Leslie Caron instead. If Audrey had not done My Fair Lady then we still might have gotten them together in two films.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> > It sounds like Cary made the right decision, and he gave the right reason for saying no. We still have him and Audrey in another film. It's just unfortunate that Julie did not get to do Eliza.

>

>

> Cary actually wanted Audrey for Father Goose but My Fair Lady conflicted so he went with Leslie Caron instead. If Audrey had not done My Fair Lady then we still might have gotten them together in two films.

 

And she most-likely would have made *The Americanization of Emily* with James Garner, giving us two films with him!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is too bad the roles were not switched. Caron would of been better than Audrey in MFL (hey it should of been Andrews but at least get someone that can sing and is more musical), and Audrey would of been great in Goose since that isn't a musical and I always wanted to she her work with Grant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leslie Caron as Eliza Doolittle?--that's a feat that even Prof Higgins couldn't handle. Caron has a French accent that's is, to say the least, pronounced, and most of her singing was dubbed in "Gigi". What she really has in common with Hepburn is that they both were trained dancers and did wonderful musicals with Astaire.

 

Being a dancer and an operatic singer are two different things.

 

Edited by: cujas on Aug 16, 2010 5:03 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...