Olivia de Havilland at 19 in one of her earliest film roles as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935, dir. William Dieterle & Max Reinhardt )
The Fairies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935, dir. William Dieterle & Max Reinhardt) Additional stills here.
Orson Welles on the set of Macbeth (1948, dir. Orson Welles)
“You could write all the ideas of all the movies, mine included, on the head of a pin. It’s not a form in which ideas are very fecund. It’s a form that may grip you or take you into a world or involve you emotionally—but ideas are not the subject of films. I have this terrible sense that film is dead, that it’s a piece of film in a machine that will be run off and shown to people. That is why, I think, my films are theatrical, and strongly stated, because I can’t believe that anybody won’t fall asleep unless they are. There’s an awful lot of Bergman and Antonioni that I’d rather be dead than sit through.
For myself, unless a film is hallucinatory, unless it becomes that kind of an experience, it doesn’t come alive. I know that directors find serious and sensitive audiences for films where people sit around peeling potatoes in the peasant houses—but I can’t read that kind of novel either. Somebody has to be knocking at the door—I figure that is the way Shakespeare thought, so I can’t be in bad company!”
Olivia Hussey in Romeo & Juliet (1968, dir. Franco Zeffirelli)
“[At the first audition, Franco Zeffirelli] came into the dressing room and he walked past all the girls, and there were a lot of girls who were sharing the same white dress. You know, we were taking it off to put it on for the next one who goes in. It was like a cattle call. And he came into the dressing room, and he came right over to me, pulled his comb out of his jacket and he put my hair in a middle-parting, and he put me in front of the mirror and he said, ‘What do you think of that?’ I said, ‘I look ridiculous.’
And he said, ‘You don’t understand anything. This is a classic look.’ And he said, ‘That’s how I want you to test, with your hair like that.’ And then he said, ‘How do you think Juliet should be?’ And I said, ‘Long blond hair and blue eyes.’ He said, ‘You understand nothing.’
…[Zeffirelli] said she needs to be like a young girl of fourteen who’s found love for the first time. She has to be a spitfire—full of passion and full of the emotions a fourteen-year-old feels. And just—’So basically Olivia, be yourself,’ you know? And that’s how it was…Franco said, ‘I really don’t want it to be lost in the dialogue. I really want to make it a classic film that appeals to young people in fifty years from today.’ I think the whole vibe of Romeo and Juliet was that they were two beautiful, young people who found love for the first time and were willing to die for it. And that’s something that’s ageless. I mean to this day—I think if Paramount re-released Romeo and Juliet, even in this jaded world of today, I think a lot of people would go see it again on the big screen and be moved all over again.”
-Olivia Hussey (2008)
William V. Ranous as Bottom and Florence Turner as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1909, dir. Charles Kent, J. Stuart Blackton)
What visions have I seen! Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.
Leslie Howard on the realized set of Juliet’s garden in Romeo and Juliet (1936, dir. George Cukor) Set designer Cedric Gibbons designed the garden so there would be “a physical obstacle for Romeo to overcome” on his way to Juliet’s balcony.
Photo by William Grimes.