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"I was nothing like her, but I felt I could 'act' Holly. I knew the part would be a challenge, but I wanted it anyway. I always wonder if I risked enough on that one. I should have been a little more outrageous. But at the time, as a new mother, I was about as wild as I could be. If only I were a Method player, huh? But the fact is, I didn't really believe in The Method. I believed in good casting. And I'm still not sure about Holly and me..." -Audrey Hepburn

The film Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released by Paramount Pictures in 1961. Capote had originally picked Marilyn Monroe to play the role of Holly Golightly but Paramount instead chose the waifish Audrey Hepburn to play the part. Capote truly adored Marilyn, one of his best biographical pieces is written about her in The Dogs Bark. Capote and Monroe shared a similar background that helped make him persistent in casting her. They both grew up from desolate childhoods and both had trouble throughout their careers dealing with their fame through drugs and alcohol. And although Capote lived longer than Monroe, they both met with a similar end.

Audrey Hepburn was the better choice, simply because her physical appearance already resembled the thin chicness of Holly and her accent was perfect for the part. Perhaps Capote underrated her talent as an actress. Marilyn Monroe’s real-life personality may have been more suited to the role than Hepburn’s but she played the part perfectly.

Capote was most upset with the changes Paramount made in the screen version of his novel. In particular with the change of the ending. Instead of a remembrance of Holly, the narrator ends up convincing Holly to stay in New York with him by making her realize that, like her and her cat, they belong to each other. This totally changed the theme of the story. In the book, Holly is always traveling-searching for a place to belong, a place she never finds.

As a whole, the film translates some of the material from the book elegantly and word for word some scenes are perfect. Like any film that is made from a book, the two should be judged by themselves as separate entities. On its own Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a wonderful film that has stood the the test of time and remains a classic.


        Capote with Marilyn Monroe in El Morroco in 1954.
Monroe was Capote’s choice to play the part
of his famous lead character, Holly Golightly.
She was to him, "A beautiful child."


Capote with Audrey Hepburn and her husband
Mel Ferrer during the making of the film.

 


Source:
Clarke, Gerald. Capote: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.
Maychick, Diana. Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait. New York: Carol Publishing Group, 1993.