When it comes to Old Hollywood, there are a select number of classic films where the stars align in creating a masterpiece. People, places, and ideas come together and something iconic is produced for generations to enjoy. A few favorites may come to mind, but the 1953 American rom-com and instant classic Roman Holiday is definitely at the top of the list. Directed by William Wyler, the film starred established Hollywood actor Gregory Peck, who’s birthday is today, alongside then-newcomer Audrey Hepburn who had at the time only acted in a few small roles. As one of the most highly regarded films of its time, Roman Holiday went on to receive seven Academy Award nominations, including Hepburn’s first Oscar which would kickstart her renowned mark on Hollywood–but things didn’t come so easy for the Hollywood newbie.
Originally, Wyler had selected Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons as the female lead role, but both were unavailable. The director sought to cast Princess Ann as a woman who rebelled against the sultry sensuality of notable Italian actresses of the time. When Hepburn finished a screen test for the role, he saw her perfectly fit for the character, however her lack of experience still labeled her subordinate to her male counterpart. Peck, who already had 18 films and four Oscar nominations, was clearly no beginner and his contract gave him solo top billing in the film credits, with Hepburn listed much less prominently.
According to Gregory Peck: A Biography by Gary Fishgall, shortly after the start of shooting, Peck was impressed by his co-star describing her as, “wonderful. An amazing girl, really. She can do anything, without effort.” Peck subsequently phoned his principal agent at MCA and told him that Hepburn’s name should appear above his title. “You can’t do that,” said the agent. “Oh, yes I can. And if I don’t, I’m going to make a fool out of myself, because this girl is going to win the Oscar in her very first performance,” Peck answered.
Acting on instinct, Peck predicted the future; and perhaps if he hadn’t believed in Hepburn’s capabilities, she would have not received the recognition she deserved. Hollywood is about fresh discoveries and the next big thing. Roman Holiday introduced the world to a new era of American movies shot in Rome (nicknamed “Hollywood on the Tiber”), Vespa scooters, and of course, Hepburn, who would flourish from this role going on to become a treasured tinseltown gem.END
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createdAt:Thu, 02 Apr 2020 14:42:05 +0000