She’s an icon of cinema, and one of the most beloved actresses of all time, both on and off the big screen. So, here are the top 10 best Audrey Hepburn moments of all time.
10. The My Fair Lady Incident
The entire fiasco that was stirred up around the Best Picture-winning musical My Fair Lady almost got to Audrey Hepburn.
Being cast for the role of Eliza Doolittle over stage performer Julie Andrews, having most of her singing dubbed by Marni Nixon, being accused by the press of having a major feud with Julie Andrews, and being snubbed for a Best Actress nomination when My Fair Lady went on to win 8 Academy Awards, the aftermath of the hit musical would have taken its toll on anyone.
However, Hepburn’s greatest moment in this whole fiasco showed that she really was a down-to-earth and real person. Upon initially hearing that most of her singing, for which she had trained for months, was to be dubbed over, she was upset and left the film set. However, she returned the next day and allegedly apologised for what she called her ‘wicked behaviour’, then just got on with the job in hand without any grudge.
9. The Nun’s Story
Six years into her Hollywood career, it was becoming evident that Hepburn was being typecast as the romantic comedy leading lady of the age.
That’s why her turn in the 1959 drama The Nun’s Story was so impressive. She named it as one of her favourite films she ever made in a later interview, and it really showed her acting range to the world outside of the romantic comedy genre. However, it’s the story behind the film that makes it all the more amazing. The Nun’s Story is set in the midst of World War II, initially in Belgium and then the Congo, a topic that was particularly sensitive for Hepburn.
At a young age, Hepburn lived in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, a horrific time which she spoke about on numerous occasions. The memories of the war were still so vivid at the time that she had turned down the role in The Diary of Anne Frank on several occasions, but the fact that she managed to take on the hard-hitting drama of The Nun’s Story, despite the uncomfortable memories it may have evoked, was testament to her determination and acting brilliance.
8. Winning The Oscar
Audrey Hepburn won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1954 for her performance as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday.
Before Roman Holiday, Hepburn was a complete unknown in Hollywood, having only made a mark in stage productions and smaller British and French films. She was such an unknown at the time that Paramount, who made the movie, considered having her billed as a supporting actress alongside leading man Gregory Peck.
The story goes that Peck demanded that Hepburn be given equal billing for the movie, a decision that was instrumental in propelling her to stardom. Not only did she gain huge critical acclaim for her performance in the movie, but to win a Best Actress Oscar for her first Hollywood feature was an unprecedented achievement.
7. Funny Face – Bohemian Dance
During her younger years, Audrey Hepburn’s ambition was always to become a ballet dancer. During the war, she and fellow dancers would hold secret recitals for the locals under Nazi occupation, and she had a real passion and talent for ballet.
However, despite her talent, Hepburn was both too tall, and had too weak a build to be a ballet dancer, which pushed her to concentrate more on her acting. For the first few years of her Hollywood career, Hepburn never had the opportunity to dance on screen like she used to do, until 1957’s Funny Face.
Starring alongside dance legend Fred Astaire, Funny Face was full of songs and dances that Hepburn hadn’t shown to the world before. In the movie, her greatest moment was inarguably the Bohemian Dance scene in a small Parisian café, where she showed her brilliant dancing skills, as well as being so full of joy and happiness throughout that it made the somewhat bizarre scene a thoroughly entertaining watch.
6. Wait Until Dark
Much like her turn in The Nun’s Story, Audrey Hepburn’s performance in the thriller Wait Until Dark proved once again that her acting range spread far beyond romantic comedies.
Wait Until Dark was Hepburn’s final film before a 9 year hiatus where her own family took centre stage, but it was the perfect way to go out on a high.
The film is an intense and dark ride, but Hepburn, along with co-stars Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna, gives a truly incredible performance that contributes so much to the film’s amazing thrills and spills. If there was ever a doubt about her acting ability, Wait Until Dark put that straight to bed.
5. Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Moon River
Of all her amazing films, Breakfast At Tiffany’s is undeniably Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic. Whether it’s walking through an empty New York morning in the legendary little black dress, or Holly Golightly’s classic cigarette holder, it’s the role that she’ll always be best remembered for.
However, there’s one moment in the film that stands out in everyone’s memory. One day in their apartment complex, Paul Varjak hears sweet guitar sounds outside. Then, he goes to look and sees Holly Golightly singing by her bathroom window.
The scene features Audrey Hepburn singing Henry Mancini’s beautiful song ‘Moon River’, later popularised by Andy Williams. Moon River was composed by Mancini specifically to fit Audrey Hepburn’s vocals, given that her singing wasn’t the best, but the softer and deeper notes to the song make it all the more elegant. It’s a pivotal moment in the romance of the film, and the main theme of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, but most of all, it’s one of the most relaxing, pleasant and delightful moments throughout all of Hepburn’s career.
4. Roman Holiday – Vespa
Back to her breakthrough film, Roman Holiday, and one of the fondest memories that any fan of Audrey Hepburn has.
Roman Holiday isn’t quite like the normal romantic comedy. It may follow a similar structure, but rather than aiming for a sappy romance, it’s a film that celebrates freedom and happiness more so than traditional love, and there’s probably no scene that sums that up better than this one.
Hepburn plays Princess Ann, a royal dignitary who is fed up with her official lifestyle, and wants to experience the real world. She then gets into all sorts of trouble after escaping her palace and ending up touring the city of Rome alongside a local journalist, played by Gregory Peck.
The two visit all the most famous landmarks in Rome, and form an unlikely bond along the way, which is cemented in the manic but delightful Vespa scene, where Princess Ann accidentally takes off on a motorbike, and causes chaos in the centre of Rome. It’s a hilarious moment, but one that perfectly shows both Roman Holiday and Audrey Hepburn’s wonderful happiness. No matter how bad things go here, if you go along for the ride and take joy in it, then you’ll undoubtedly come out smiling.
3. UNICEF Ambassador
The one thing that will always separate Audrey Hepburn from the Marilyn Monroes and Rita Hayworths of the movie world is her off-screen personality. She was always a down-to-earth, happy and positive person, and that shines through most in her work with UNICEF.
Following her effective retirement from film by the 1980s, Hepburn was keen to work with UNICEF to help impoverished children around the world, given her experiences as a child during the German occupation in Holland.
Over the years, she travelled all over the world, from Ethiopia to Vietnam, from Turkey to South America, using her knowledge of over five foreign languages to engage better with locals than any celebrity before. Her efforts were at the centre of bringing the plight of those in less-developed countries to the attention of the world’s leaders.
Hepburn kept working as an ambassador for UNICEF right up until her death, and for her efforts she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H.W. Bush, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by AMPAS one month after her death.
2. Always – Hap
Steven Spielberg’s Always isn’t an amazing film, and it definitely doesn’t compare to some of Audrey Hepburn’s classics from the Golden Age of Hollywood. However, her appearance in the film is absolutely legendary.
Made in 1989, Always was Audrey Hepburn’s last big screen appearance. Although she appeared in interviews and a few TV shows over the following four years, her work with UNICEF and her family were her main occupations.
However, in the film, Hepburn has a cameo as Hap, a mystical being who appears to the film’s main character when he is on the edge of death. Effectively, Hepburn plays God in the film, as stated by Spielberg, who thought that she would be the perfect person to portray the almighty Lord.
There’s never been a person that’s managed to end their film career on such an accurate note. Audrey Hepburn, a classic leading lady in Hollywood for the best part of 20 years, finished off her film career with an appearance as God. And if that’s not an incredible way to mark the end of an amazing life, then I don’t know what is.
1. Audrey Hepburn
There are so many reasons that Audrey Hepburn is one of the most beloved personalities of all time. From her incredible stories about life under Nazi occupation to her inspiring work with UNICEF, she’s a legendary figure that will never be forgotten.
Her films have spanned almost all genres, reaching out to so many people. There are countless iconic moments from her life, and even more from her films.
She’s my favourite actress, she’s a wonderful person, and someone that rises above everything that Hollywood has or ever will produce: Audrey Hepburn.