Audrey Hepburn is an iconic figure in the history of film. The British actor and humanitarian’s timeless style and grace are untouched by others. Hepburn is an inspiration for all who enjoy her movies. Her performances were endearing, as shown by a genuine reaction to a prank by her co-star Gregory Peck while filming the 1953 rom-com Roman Holiday.
Gregory Peck’s improvisation surprises Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday’
Hepburn starred in Roman Holiday alongside Peck. According to IMDb, Hepburn plays Princess Anne, who embarks on a widely publicized European tour that includes Rome. She breaks free from the embassy during a scheduled nap and goes out to experience Rome on her own.
While on the town, Princess Anne meets Joe Bradley, played by Peck. Bradley is an expatriate American reporter who sees an opportunity to show the princess around Rome. The pair fall in love despite all the shenanigans.
According to MsMojo, Hepburn and Peck visit the Mouth of Truth mask while they explore Rome together. Legend has it that if you stick your hand in the mask’s mouth and it detects you are a liar, it will bite your hand.
As they filmed, Peck inserted his hand in the mouth and acted like the mask bit him — the script included that part. But Peck improvised, pulling his hand into the arm of his coat, making his hand appear missing. This resulted in a very real and genuine scream from Hepburn.
Hepburn began acting in the U.S. on Broadway
Hepburn was only 22 when she went to New York to perform in 1951’s Gigi on Broadway. This performance was key to launching her acting career as she performed in Roman Holiday (1953) two years later. In 1954, Hepburn went on to star in Sabrina with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden and the incredibly popular Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
The mother of two’s popularity and appearances in big films landed her the role of Eliza Doolittle in the movie production of My Fair Lady in 1964.
Hepburn was a Hollywood superstar, but her heart and passion involved helping people. As she got older, she pulled away from the spotlight to focus on philanthropy work. Hepburn raised her two sons and helped other children around the world.
The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador even had a humanitarian award named after her. In 1992, Hepburn won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Audrey Hepburn didn’t want to be an actor
Hepburn did not originally want to be an actor. Long before her time in Hollywood, she was an avid ballet dancer. World War II tragically derailed her dreams of dancing. Hepburn started her dance career in London at a young age and then moved to the Netherlands to dance. The Nazi occupation interrupted her training.
Hepburn built up quite a reputation in Europe as a talented dancer. When she couldn’t train as she desired, she still put her skills to work. The Dutch Resistance leader, Dr. Hendrik Visser ‘t Hooft, recruited her to perform at illegal, invitation-only performances. The money raised at these events aided the Dutch Underground.
The wartime years took a toll on Hepburn. She became quite malnourished, and that ruined her chances of being a professional dancer. She could not get the rigorous training required of top-notch dancers. Once Hepburn realized she couldn’t make it as a dancer, she shifted her focus to acting.
All of that ballet training did not go to waste. Her movies often show her poise and grace throughout. She even got to show off her skills in the movie Funny Face when she got to dance with Fred Astaire.