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Patricia Neal ‘hated’ her ‘snooty’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s co-star

In 1961, Patricia Neal played Mrs. Emily Eustace “2E” Failensen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, opposite Holly Golightly, the café society girl played by Audrey Hepburn. The classic film told the story of the latter who falls in love with a struggling writer named Paul Varjak, who was originally going to be played by Steve McQueen. However, The Magnificent Seven star was under contract elsewhere and it would be his replacement that the two leads couldn’t be on set.

In the end, George Peppard was cast as Paul despite director Blake Edwards not wanting him, but the producers turned him down. Quoted in Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, Neal did not hold back in his experience of working with the leading man. Initially, the actress said that she had initially enjoyed working with him, but after an almost violent moment on set, she had a complete change of heart.

The 2E star said, “I had done scenes with George at the Actors Studio. I had a great time and loved it, but years later when I got Breakfast at Tiffany’s, something happened.” This something led her to “hate” it.

Neal continued: “I was excited when I heard that we were going to be in this together, but it wasn’t long before I realized that since the last time I saw him he had become so cold and conceited. On one occasion, Blake and George almost got into a fistfight. We were trying to block a scene and George wanted to change everything that Blake had planned, and George got so terrible that Blake almost hit him. I made them stop, but I think George got away with it. I hated him from then on.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s producer Richard Shepherd was surprised to discover that even Hepburn, who got along with most people, found it difficult to work with Peppard.

READ MORE: George Peppard survived lung cancer, but what killed the star?

Rooney, who later said he would not have played the role if he knew it would offend people, wore a dentures and makeup to play a caricature of a Japanese man.

Producer Richard Shepherd said at the time of production that he wanted a Japanese actor to play the role, but that it was Edwards’ decision to cast Rooney.

Looking back, the director said, “Looking back, I wish I’d never done it… and I’d give anything to recast it, but it’s there, and forward and up.”



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