Known the world over for her elegance and grace, let alone her iconic cinematic performances, a new documentary begs the question, who was the real Audrey Hepburn? With never-seen-before archival footage, fascinating interviews from her family, as well as input from the great and the good of the worlds of fashion and culture, Audrey promises the answer.
Screen legend, cultural icon, fashion muse, philanthropist… Audrey Hepburn is, without question, one of the world’s most famous women. The star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady is amongst only a handful to ever reach EGOT status – achieving an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony – whilst also devoting herself to charitable causes, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador just a month before her death in 1993.
This November, the actress is celebrated in a landmark documentary, Audrey, directed by acclaimed London-based writer and filmmaker Helena Coan and produced by the BAFTA-nominated team behind the gripping fashion documentary McQueen.
There have, of course, been films made about Audrey before but this promises to be a deep dive into her life both in and out of the spotlight, with never-seen-before archival footage and insightful interviews with her nearest and dearest, including son Sean Hepburn-Ferrer, granddaughter Emma Ferrer and co-star Richard Dreyfuss.
At the heart of the documentary is Audrey’s love of dance, ballet in particular, a passion which remained her whole life. For this, Coan collaborated with the Royal Ballet’s Wayne Macgregor to choreograph a series of dance-based “portraits” of the star, represented by three classically-trained dancers – Keira Moore as “Young Audrey”, Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Francesca Hayward as “Hollywood era Audrey” and prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri, who plays Audrey in her later years.
“Dance magnifies Audrey’s emotional landscape and brings a heightened sense of drama and theatre to the film, as well as a rich visual language which has not yet been used in documentary,” Coan explains.
Fashion also plays an integral role in the film, with insight from Givenchy’s former Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller and Tiffany & Co’s Design Director emeritus John Lorin, looking at how Audrey’s gamine-like beauty and innate sense of style saw her forever epitomise Hollywood chic.
There can, after all, be no more memorable cinematic moment than Audrey as Holly Golightly, jumping out of a cab early morning in New York wearing a black Givenchy evening gown, eyes hidden by huge sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality,” Audrey has said of her decades-long bond with Hubert de Givenchy.
And yet, while Audrey celebrates the actress’s timeless style and an epochal career, it also looks at her secret agonies, notably the profound effects of her father walking out on the impoverished family when Audrey was a young girl and the anguish of growing up under Nazi occupation in Holland. It is said that food was so scarce at the end of the War, she survived by eating nettles and tulip bulbs, becoming severely malnourished and anaemic.
“Hepburn faced a life-long battle with the traumas of her past, which thwarted her dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, and cast a shadow over her personal life” the film’s press release reveals. An intimate portrait exploring the real Audrey Hepburn, this is one not to miss.
Audrey is available on DVD and digital download from 30 November.