June 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm , by Lisa M. Gerry
Audrey Hepburn has always epitomized glamour and sophistication, but in her role as Holly Golightly she was more than that—she was a symbol of social change. In his fascinating new book, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Sammy Wasson explores Hepburn’s role in the impending sexual revolution, and offers delicious behind-the-scenes tidbits from the making of the 1961 classic.
When did you first see Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
Oh my God. I must have been no more than ten or eleven years old. But, it only really became significant to me in when I was in high school…when I started falling in love, getting depressed and then ecstatic—at that point, it really made a mark.
The film has a tremendous fashion legacy.
I think it grows more and more as the movie ages. At the time, it was surprising. Now we’ve come to see the little black dress as a grown up style for women, but it wasn’t so clear at the time.
I was amazed to find out that they had originally wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly, but they couldn’t get her.
I would bet if Marilyn Monroe had that part, we would not love the movie the way we do now. Marilyn Monroe was the old kind of sexual power, while Audrey was the new. She was a woman that wasn’t trading on her overt sexual appeal.
What films have been directly influenced by Tiffanys?
If there was no Breakfast at Tiffany’s, there would be no Sex and the City. I am certain about that. At the time Breakfast at Tiffany’s came out, a woman wasn’t going to New York on her own. On Friday nights, she needed a date, she needed to go out with a group of friends. You wouldn’t see her putting on a cute dress, hailing a cab, heading off to a bar and meeting a guy. The single life was something to be ashamed of. It didn’t exist. Breakfast at Tiffany’s said, you know what, it does exist and it’s actually fun. That right there is Sex and the City. Tiffany’s made that lifestyle OK.
I was surprised to learn how much anxiety Audrey had about acting.
Audrey always felt she just fell into acting. It was an accident, so she never really felt like she belonged, or that she was doing it right. She wanted to be a dancer.
After all of your research, what was your most surprising or juicy finding?
A big revelation to me was that they had shot two endings. In the other ending, Holly and George are in the alley, they recover the cat and then just kind of walk up the street and it fades out. There’s no romantic crescendo or embrace. It’s bittersweet.
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