Tantrums at Tiffany’s: Clashing egos nearly killed off one of the best-loved films ever made

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When it came to casting the star of Breakfast At ­Tiffany’s, the two pro­ducers were stumped. None of the big stars of the late ­Fifties seemed right for their radically modern heroine, who earned her living as a call-girl.

Debbie Reynolds? Too sweet. Grace Kelly? Too conventional. Liz Taylor? Too seductive. Doris Day? Too virginal. Then the producers had a brainwave. Of course: Audrey Hepburn!

Didn’t the novel on which the film would be based specify a skinny girl with a ‘flat little ­bottom’, ‘hair sleek and short as a young man’s’ and ‘a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman’?

Audrey wasn’t too sexy or too apple-pie, and there was no doubt she had the right physique. Hadn’t the great film director Billy Wilder once said that ‘Audrey Hepburn, singlehanded, may make bosoms a thing of the past’?

Now convinced that Audrey was the only woman on the planet who could bring Holly Golightly to life, one of the producers — Marty Jurow — flew out to meet her on a film set in the south of France. There, however, he was shocked to discover that their 29-year-old ­leading lady wasn’t quite as gamine as they’d imagined; in fact, she was heavily pregnant.

Well, that didn’t matter; they could wait. But they hadn’t reckoned with Audrey’s controlling husband, Mel Ferrer, a B-movie actor and occasional director who was increasingly resentful of his wife’s success.

Playing a woman of questionable virtue, he counselled his wife, could only do her image irreparable harm. Audrey acquiesced. ‘I can’t play a hooker,’ she told Jurow firmly but sweetly — and that appeared to be that.

If only Marty Jurow and co-­producer Richard Shepherd’s problems had ended there. Audrey, as everyone knows, eventually relented, and Breakfast At Tiffany’s has over the past five decades become a classic, illuminated by a haunting song and the charm of its twig-like star.

But the film, it can now be revealed, was very nearly not made at all. Behind the scenes, a cauldron of egos and insecurities was continually threatening to boil over.

Full story: Tantrums at Tiffany’s: Clashing egos nearly killed off one of the best-loved films ever made | Mail Online