Audrey Hepburn is one of Hollywood's greatest actresses of all time. Hepburn could sing, dance, and had the range to do both comedic and serious parts. She was the full package. But nothing compares to her first on-screen role in the 1953 Academy Award winning movie, Roman Holiday. Here are 8 facts about the film that made Audrey Hepburn a household name.
8. Budget cuts led to many things... including an Oscar Win!
Originally Paramount wanted director William Wyler to shoot the entire film in Hollywood in order to have the budget to cast well known actors, but Wyler urged the studio to allow him to shoot in Italy. So the studio complied, but they gave him a much lower budget. Because of that, Wyler had to change a lot of the aesthetic of the movie, like making the budget-friendly choice to shoot the entire film in black and white instead of technicolor. Not only that, but Wyler made the sacrifice of casting a well-known actress as Princess Ann and ended up having to cast an unknown. That unknown was a yet to be discovered Audrey Hepburn. If Wyler had settled to shoot in Hollywood, Hepburn wouldn't have been casted. That means she wouldn't have won her Oscar, and wouldn't be the household name we know today.
7. Gregory Peck Predicted Audrey Hepburn's Future
After filming was concluded in Italy, Gregory Peck told producers that they should put Audrey Hepburn's name above the title of the film because she was going to win an Oscar for her performance. This was her first on-screen role, and Peck was so impressed with her that he spoke out about her. The producers agreed to put her name above the title and Audrey did win her Oscar.
6. Where is Princess Ann from?
It's never officially said where Princess Ann is from. Although it is heavily implied that Ann is from England, it's shown during the news reels that she visits Buckingham Palace, not that she lives there. This means that she can't be from there.
5. Roman Holiday Almost Didn't Happen...
William Wyler had his ideal casting in his head, which was to have Jean Simmons portray Princess Ann. But due to a scheduling conflict, Simmons was ruled out of the role, and Wyler was so upset about it that he nearly cancelled the movie all together. Thank goodness he didn't...
4. Joe Would Have Made Bank in 2015
In the film Joe, who is played by Gregory Peck, was offered $5,000 to get pictures of Princess Ann enjoying her time in Rome. Well it turns out that the $5,000 Joe was offered in 1953 would be worth nearly $44,000 in 2015. Maybe that explains why the paparazzi are so persistent.
3. Black and White Madness
There are many reasons why the film was shot in black and white, one being because of the budget of the film. Another reason is because the people working on the film were concerned that bright and romantic colors would overshadow the actors.
2. Tandem Trend
One trend this film started was that of the vespa. One of the most memorable scenes from Roman Holiday shows Princess Ann and Joe riding tandem throughout Rome on the back of a Vespa. After this film, the Vespa caught on, especially whilst riding with your sweetheart.
1. One Take Wonder
Typically with movies, directors are very persistent about taking multiple takes in order to capture the drama and emotion of a scene correctly. But there was one scene in Roman Holiday that broke that rule. This scene features 'The Mouth of Truth', where Joe challenges Ann to sticking her hand in to see if she's lying. Instead, she returns the test back to him. He accepts the test, but Joe uses this to play a little prank on her. He sticks his hand in the mouth, screams, and then pulls his hand out of the hole screaming with his hand hidden up his sleeve. Everything that happens in this scene was a surprise to Hepburn and every reaction she has is genuine. That's exactly what Wyler was looking for and that was the only scene in the entire movie that was done in one take.
Audrey Hepburn is one of the 20th century's greatest actresses, and her career should be a framework for all actors and actresses for how to simultaneously harness their talents while being a role model. It's hard sometimes to remember those greats who came before us, but it is our duty as film lovers to keep our favorite films still relevant.