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HoldenIsHere

The "other actress" considered for the MY FAIR LADY movie

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The Genevieve Bujold co-star thread got me thinking about another "mystery" where a reference was made to someone without mentioning the person's name.

 

Specifically, in am interview Audrey Hepburn was asked about taking the lead in the MY FAIR LADY movie from Julie Andrews (who played the role on stage).

Audrey responded that she had initially turned down the role when it was offered to her and only agreed to do it after "another actress" was going to be given the role. From her tone, it sounded as if Audrey felt this other actress was unacceptable----she may have even said as much.

 

I wonder who this "other actress" was?

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According to the IMDb website, Holden...

 

>Audrey Hepburn herself revealed years later that had she turned down the role of Eliza, the next actress to be offered it would not have been Julie Andrews but Elizabeth Taylor, who wanted it desperately.

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I'm not sure how one reads so much into one's tone. Based on the limited info in this post, I would assume that Audrey was thinking of turning down the role because she (like most everyone else but the studio producers), felt the role was Andrews'. But IF the studio wasn't going to give the role to Andrews, period, then it was OK for anyone to take the role, and it might as well be me (Audrey).

 

Yea, it would be nice to know what Audrey actually said.

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AFAIC it all turned out for the best. When I want to hear the soundtrack, I've got the Broadway version, and when I want to see the movie I've got one of the best musical films ever made, without fretting that "Audrey's" songs are dubbed by Marni Nixon.

 

And thank God that Liz Taylor didn't get picked for the Eliza role. 675.gif She was much better cast in Virginia Woolf.

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I refused to see the movie because I thought Julie Andrews has been royally shafted in not getting the part. If she had would she then have been able to do *The Sound of Music?* If not then she won in the end as that's a much more known and popular film that *My Fair Lady.* And of course she would not have the Oscar for *Mary Poppins.* unless she'd won for *MFL.*

 

Considering Elizabeth Taylor for Eliza sounds like often typical Hollywood casting; wanting a star in the role even if it's miscasting. If it's true then I've been hard on Audrey for taking the role. She was a better fit than Elizabeth.

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Wouldbe,

 

I think *Mary Poppins* was released in 1964 and *Sound of Music* was released in 1965.

 

So, if Julie had gotten the role in *My Fair Lady* she wouldn't have been able to film *Mary Poppins* (both films were released in 1964) and thus, wouldn't have won the Oscar for *Mary Poppins*.

 

Had she been in *My Fair Lady* she likely would have won the Oscar for that film still making her the Academy winner for 1964.

 

Walt Disney cast her in *Mary Poppins* after seeing her on Broadway in *Camelot*.

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While I wish the studio had cast Andrews in the part, I don't see any reason to be 'hard on Audrey' for taking the role. It isn't her fault the studio wanted a well known actress for the part. Expecting an actor NOT to take a role that was better suited for someone else is crazy IMO.

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>Walt Disney cast her in Mary Poppins after seeing her on Broadway in Camelot

 

Even though she is totally unlike the Mary Poppins of the books

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Thanks, Dargo, for that information.

 

Here is the interview where Audrey refers to "the third girl" who was going to be given the role in MY FAIR LADY after she had initially turned it down:

 

 

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You're welcome, Holden. And thank you for posting that entertaining link to that old Barbara Walters interview with the lovely Audrey.

 

Though, I have to say I wish Barbara would have asked her the following question: "Do you evah wondah why aftah you did "Woman Holiday" you nevah won anothah Academy Awawd?"

 

(...sorry, couldn't resist!)

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Dargo, I was surprised that Barbara Walters didn't ask Audrey who was "the third girl."

Either she was in awe of Audrey or was more respectful in general back then.

 

Flash forward to when Barbara Walters asked Siegfried if he and Roy were lovers in the interview after Roy had been seriously injured by one of their tigers.

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Yep, good point, Holden.

 

Those days were a far cry from this present "TMJ"..hmmmm. no, that's not it..that's that irritated jaw thing...ummm... "TMX"..nope, I don't think that's it either..ummmm..."TMZ"..oh yeah, THAT'S that lousy waste of television airtime..world we live in today, huh! ;)

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> So, if Julie had gotten the role in My Fair Lady she wouldn't have been able to film Mary Poppins (both films were released in 1964) and thus, wouldn't have won the Oscar for Mary Poppins.

 

 

 

Couldn't the possibilty have been that Andrews was already commited to POPPINS, and not ABLE to take the Doolittle movie role?

 

Could the "third actress" have been BARBARA STREISAND, who was making waves on Broadway that year in FUNNY GIRL?

 

OOPS! Did I jut do a "dribble"?

 

Sepiatone

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Couldn't the possibilty have been that Andrews was already commited to POPPINS, and not ABLE to take the Doolittle movie role?

 

No, Jack Warner did not even consider Julie Andrews for the big budget MY FAIR LADY movie because he did not think she could sell enough tickets to movie audiences. He wanted a "movie star" for Eliza. (His first choice for Henry Higgins was Cary Grant. Perhaps if a "name" such as Cary Grant was in the film he might have considered Julie Andrews .)

 

Warner: "In my business I have to know who brings people and their money to a cinema box office. Audrey Hepburn had never made a financial flop."

 

 

When Julie Andrews won her Golden Globe for MARY POPPINS, she closed her acceptance speech by thanking Jack Warner for making "all this possible."

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>His first choice for Henry Higgins was Cary Grant. Perhaps if a "name" such as Cary Grant was in the film he might have considered Julie Andrews

 

According to a bio of Rex Harrison, that is pretty much what happened. Grant was approached, with the idea that Andrews would then be considered for Eliza (thus saving the large salary Hepburn would demand). But Grant gave his famous refusal.

 

Still Jack Warner was determined to cast a proven box office draw as Higgins. He then approached...

 

Are you ready...?

 

*Rock Hudson* to play Higgins. Supposedly Hudson's closest advisers urged him to accept the role, but he ultimately declined.

 

At this point Hepburn was cast as Eliza, giving Warner the superstar he insisted on -- but Jack Warner wasn't finished. He strongly considered casting Peter O'Toole as Higgins. O'Toole was fresh off his LOA triumph, as classically trained as Harrison (if not more so), and perhaps most importantly for Warner, was 25 years younger than Rex H.

 

Ultimately O'Toole was not cast (explanations as to why differ -- perhaps it was the stories spread by producer Sam Spiegel claiming he was difficult on the LOA set), and Rex ended up as the screen Higgins.

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Frankly, as much as I love Cary Grant, I cannot picture him as Professor Higgins. Rex Harrison was perfect for the role. I love his talking style of singing.

 

While I do enjoy Julie Andrews and don't doubt that she did a great job with the role on Broadway and would have undoubtedly done a great job in the film, I enjoyed Audrey Hepburn's performance in "My Fair Lady." I think it's unfortunate that she was dubbed, I don't believe her singing voice was bad, I suppose it probably didn't have the range that the producers wanted for Eliza.

 

Audrey added her special touch that she adds to all her roles and undeniably added another classic "Audrey Hepburn character" to her film legacy. If Julie had gotten the role, while I believe she would have been excellent, the film would have been much different.

 

My favorite part of "My Fair Lady" is when they're at the horse races, among high society, and Eliza yells out "move your bloody arse!" to her horse.

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..and Grant told Warner that if Rex Harrison wasn't cast as Henry Higgins, he wouldn't even go to SEE the film.

 

That's one more feather for Grant's hat. Since Harrison had defined the stage role, he was the obvious choice once Warner had gotten his Big Name for Eliza.

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Interesting discussion about the casting of MFL. I could see a film with O'Toole and Andrews cast as the leads being just as good, if not better, then the Harrison and Hepburn version.

 

As much as I love Audrey, I feel her performance in MFL is off. Something is just lacking. Harrison is great and by no means do I believe O'Toole could of done a better job. I just view a 'what if' pairing of O'Toole and Andrews as something that might of turned out to be very good.

 

Also, since the actual interview has been posted, I disagee with HoldenIsHere that Audrey implied the other actress was somehow unacceptable. I don't get that vibe at all. I get the vibe of 'if Andrews isn't going to get the part, than it is ok for anyone else to get it, and it might as well be me'.

 

Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on Mar 29, 2014 3:37 PM

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If Andrews wasn't a "big enough name" (or whatever the official reason was for not having her reprise her Broadway role), I'm glad Audrey took the role and not the second choice-- Elizabeth Taylor.

 

As great as Elizabeth Taylor is in her films, I really cannot picture her as Eliza Doolittle. If she were cast, I think we would be discussing someone who was horribly miscast. Not that Audrey isn't glamorous or elegant; but I think she's able to carry off the "plain jane gets a makeover" type roles. Elizabeth Taylor just looks too glamorous.

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>As much as I love Audrey, I feel her performance in MFL is off. Something is just lacking.

 

I too, am a fan of Audrey Hepburn and I agree that in comparison to some of her other films, this isn't her best film. I still enjoy it very much. I don't watch it as often as her other films, frankly, because the film is so long. I wonder if Audrey's performance is lacking because of all the controversy surrounding Julie Andrews not being cast in the film. Maybe Audrey was upset that she was not the favored choice?

 

I think my favorite Audrey Hepburn performance is "Sabrina," followed closely by "Roman Holiday" and "Funny Face." I think her worst film might be "Paris When it Sizzles."

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I could see a film with O'Toole and Andrews cast as the leads being just as good, if not better, then the Harrison and Hepburn version.

 

Jack Warner, of course, would never have even considered a Peter O'Toole/Julie Andrews pairing for his production as neither had enough "box office clout" in his eyes. He only entertained the idea of O'Toole because he already had Audrey Hepburn. Despite the success of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, O'Toole was still not a big enough "name."

 

One thing about Audrey Hepburn that makes her a good Eliza in my opinion (beyond her magnetic screen presence) is her idiosynchratic speech pattern. She sounds like someone who has learned English as a "second language" and someone who could be mistaken as a "foreign" princess by Zoltan Karpathy.

This speech pattern also suits her character in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, a girl from the Texas sticks who has learned to speak "English" the same way she learned to speak French.

(Truman Capote felt that Paramount had double-crossed him by casting Audrey as Holly Golightly. He was very vocal about his choice: Marilyn Monroe.)

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To me when Eliza is the low class dirty gal, Audrey's "magnetic screen presence" works against her IMO.

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To me when Eliza is the low class dirty gal, Audrey's "magnetic screen presence" works against her IMO.

 

I agree, james, that Audrey is much more convincing after the transformation than as the Cockney street vendor.

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There was much discussion about Audrey Hepburn vs Julie Andrews, in the media, at the time. Whether it was started to stir up publicity, one can only guess.

 

Even columnists, such as Louella Parsons stated their viewpoints. This was after the media fired up the "controversy" over Audrey Hepburn being bypassed for an oscar nomination. Miss Parsons stated that Miss Hepburn wasn't so believable as a cockney; but that she was wonderful in the latter half of the film.

 

Around the same time, columnist, Sidney Skolsky, (The Hollywood Citizen-News) had a readers' column, wherein he published the pros and cons. In the end, he stated that Julie Andrews rightly deserved the oscar, for "Mary Poppins"

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