Audrey Hepburn — A Hollywood legend? Meh — not so much, to hear Nanny McPhee star Emma Thompson say it.
An Academy Award-winning actress, Thompson is writing the screenplay for a remake of Hepburn’s 1964 cinema classic, My Fair Lady — but the outspoken Brit was less than inspired by Audrey’s performance as Eliza Doolittle in the original. In fact, Emma found little of Audrey’s work praiseworthy and blasted the Hollywood icon as a girl with a pretty face who “couldn’t act, couldn’t sing, and was “fantastically twee.”
Just let that marinate for a moment.
“I was thrilled to be asked to do it because, having a look at it, I thought that there needs to be a new version. I’m not hugely fond of the film. I find Audrey Hepburn fantastically twee,” Thompson confessed to The British Telegraph this week. “Twee is whimsy without wit. It’s mimsy-mumsy sweetness without any kind of bite. And that’s not for me. She can’t sing and she can’t really act, I’m afraid. I’m sure she was a delightful woman – and perhaps if I had known her I would have enjoyed her acting more, but I don’t and I didn’t, so that’s all there is to it, really,” Emma spat as a matter of fact.
“It was Cecil Beaton’s designs and Rex Harrison that gave it its extraordinary quality. I don’t do Audrey Hepburn. I think that she’s a guy thing… It’s high time that the extraordinary role of Eliza was reinterpreted, because it’s a very fantastic part for a woman,” explained.
Thompson plans to give My Fair Lady a feminist makeover in the proposed update, which could arrive on cinema screens as early as 2012. In Emma’s reinvention, Eliza is “sold into sexual slavery” by her father.
“I suppose my cheekiness is in saying: ‘This is a very serious story about the usage of women at a particular time in our history. And it’s still going on today. Yes, OK, it’s a wonderful musical, but let’s also look at what it’s really saying about the world.”
Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan is in negotiations to play Eliza, while Hugh Grant and Rupert Everett have been linked to the role of Professor Henry Higgins.