I view this movie in a different light after watching a Barbara Walters interview with Audrey Hepburn. When parts were being cast for My Fair Lady, Hepburn told her agent that Julie Andrews should have the role of Eliza Doolittle since she had experience with the role on Broadway. When the casting invitation was not extended to Andrews, Hepburn took the part. However, she received much criticism for doing so. Many felt Hepburn was not cut out for the part, especially since she didn’t sing her character’s songs. (Marni Nixon’s voice dubbed over all but one of the musical numbers–same song voice as Maria in West Side Story.) I love Audrey Hepburn, and I used to love that she starred in this fun film. Now I see much of what the controversy was about. How could they cast a non-singing actress as the leading lady of a musical? I began to imagine the differences made if Andrews had been chosen. Had Andrews played the part of Doolittle, I feel the character would have been a much stronger woman. Hepburn always brings a trademark delicacy to her roles, which is very endearing and is much of why I like her. However, as I review the part, I wonder if the writers originally intended for Eliza to be stronger than Hepburn made her. I wonder if she was supposed to be a force to be reckoned with, a woman firm in her ways that would take a real man to malleate her stubbornness. In my opinion, Hepburn was unable to deliver that force. She was rather mousy and childlike, hardly an equal to Professor Higgins in strength, even after her transformation.
The My Fair Lady portion of the interview starts at 3:00 of Part 2, but I’ve posted both halves in case you’re interested…