14 December 2013

"I can't say whether or not we will use Miss Hepburn..."

"Roman Holiday" (1953) was Audrey Hepburn's first Hollywood film and the only one she won an Oscar for. Prior to "Roman Holiday" Audrey had only played small roles in British productions. On 18 September 1951, British director Thorold Dickinson did a screentest with Audrey at Pinewood Studios, during which Audrey not only read her lines, but was also interviewed by Dickinson about her life and experiences during WWII. Footage of this special screentest was sent to director William Wyler in Rome, where he was preparing his new film "Roman Holiday". This is Wyler's answer to Dickinson (whom he mistakingly calls Harold) concerning Audrey's screentest:


October 26, 1951

Dear Mr. Dickinson,

The Audrey Hepburn test you made is a fine piece of work, and I just wanted to tell you how much we liked it here at the studio. You gave us a good look at the girl's personality and charm, as well as her talent. As a result of the test, a number of the producers at Paramount have expressed interest in casting her.

I can't say at the moment whether or not we will use Miss Hepburn in Roman Holiday, but if we don't you may be sure it will not be because of anything in the test- which is as good as any I've seen in a long time.

With many thanks and best wishes,

Sincerely, William Wyler (signed)

WW: dn

Mr. Harold Dickinson
18 Ovington Street
London, S.W. 3

Of course we all know how it ended. Elizabeth Taylor for whom the role of Princess Ann had originally been written, had to make way for 24-year old Audrey Hepburn. Wyler later said: "She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence and talent. She was also very funny. She was absolutely enchanting and we said: 'That's the girl!'" 

William Wyler directing Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday"

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