Whew! Ok, I've actually had this segment read for a while it's just a matter of articulating thoughts and then posting them up here.
I love how the beginning of Audrey Hepburn's career was so fairytale-like; it's all about being in the right place at the right time and doing her best at each point. In fact, it all happened with such "fanciful" and "serendipitous whimsy" that Ms. Hepburn, herself, thought it was too good to be true, but she faced the challenge head on. After being cast as Gigi, she said, "I tried to explain to all of them that I wasn't ready to do a lead, but they didn't agree -- and I was not going to try to change their minds (pg. 63)."
I enjoyed reading a little of the background with Roman Holiday. I agree that this is a tale which could easily be a terribly silly story, but it's done so skillfully and delicately that, somehow, it just works! (It's one of my favorite B&W films) Having read about the grueling and intense reputation of the director, William Wyler, it's kind of surprising that Ms. Hepburn's inexperience worked so well with his demanding style, but it seems another testament of her charm and winning disposition.
I think it also helped that Ms. Hepburn was very different from all the current leading ladies (e.g. Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe) both in image she wished to portray and in her approach. The author describes what made her special: "[It] was not something that came from a conniving, manipulative or seductive instinct; it simply betokened the determination of a young woman both vulnerable and strong who, despite her ignorance of the fine points of acting, was resolved to achieve the best she could (pg. 66)."
In Chapters 5 and 6, I was entertained to read about the differences between movie stars then to movie stars today. For example, as big a star as she was becoming, the press couldn't always keep track of her. She kept her private life private. "That part of her life was off limits, she insisted. Newsmen did not know that Audrey traveled by airplane to visit James in Toronto every Sunday morning when weather permitted, returning just in time for her Monday evening performance (pg. 77)." Ah, the days before the internet!
Also, there was the the "morals clause", where stars could have their careers destroyed if "public decency was offended by an actor's private life (pg. 109)", a bit different from the current state of things.
Another thing that I noted with amusement through these chapters, was the gentle way the author points out the coloring of truth as told by certain individuals.
On page 61, we read about how the theatrical adaptation of the book, Gigi, came about. Also, how producer Gilbert Miller always maintained that "he had been zealously committed to producing a play of Gigi since its publication as a book." Yet, our author carefully points out that the "reality was not quite as Miller recorded." He then spends the next paragraph explaining the differences.
And again, on page 85, regarding Gregory Peck's recorded recollections of how Ms. Hepburn's name came to be listed along with his. While carefully acknowledging the generosity and considerateness of Mr. Peck, the author delicately states that "his memory was imprecise."
It made me smile.