'Part of me thinks I am Juliet' - Telegraph
Olivia Hussey became an international sensation at age 16, with the release of . This is Dyson, my partner in this, and we're going to put you with a dialogue coach, and I He happened to pair me with Leonard Whiting. At 16, the actress Olivia Hussey had the world at her feet, but shunned the spotlight. men - including her co-star in Romeo and Juliet, Leonard Whiting, with Swept off her feet by Dino, she followed him to Los Angeles, where they married on her 20th birthday. . 80 great quotes about love and romance. Zeffirelli directing Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Romeo and Juliet. asking if she and Leonard really dated (yes) and plead for love advice.
I also asked the Pope's blessing and received it. Indeed, it is said to be one of the Pope's favourite films. It's easy to see why Zeffirelli would think his Juliet could also play Mary. But it took the veteran Hollywood director William Riead to see Teresa in Olivia, and to hire special-effects wizard Kevin Haney to do the elaborate make-up.
It was Haney's team who spent four hours each day turning Jim Carrey into the Grinch, and it will take the same amount of time to transform Olivia in her new film, which is titled simply Teresa.
Mother Teresa was only four foot seven. In her teens, she was one of the most promising actresses in the world and was offered big parts opposite John Wayne, Richard Burton and other major stars, all of which she turned down. Instead, her big films have been few and far between, and have included such forgettable pictures as Death on the Nile, a remake of Lost Horizon and, more recently, an appearance as Norman Bates's mother in Psycho IV.
Has this ex-Juliet been star-crossed in real life? One moment, I was just a girl acting in a movie, and then I was internationally famous, touring the world and getting mobbed, giving endless interviews.
By the time all the publicity work was done, I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get out of the spotlight. I was a recluse. I didn't go anywhere. I didn't do much of anything but sit at home. She doesn't mind looking backwards, and the more she talks about her past, the more animated she becomes. In her youth, she was a bit of a wild child with a weakness for good-looking young men - including her co-star in Romeo and Juliet, Leonard Whiting, with whom she had a passionate fling - and a desperate desire for some paternal guidance.
I used to say that my own father was dead, because he might as well have been. He was in Argentina and didn't play a part in my life. He and my mother divorced when I was only two.
Without the father's support, the family struggled. Her mother - whose maiden name was Hussey - worked as a secretary in a law office, and Olivia dreamt of becoming an actress. Zeffirelli saw the play, asked Olivia to be his Juliet and made her a star almost overnight. It overwhelmed me, so I just ran away from it the first chance I got. He was Dean Paul Martin, the son of the famous crooner. Dino was his father's favourite and had become moderately famous in his own right as a budding rock star in America.
Swept off her feet by Dino, she followed him to Los Angeles, where they married on her 20th birthday. Two years later, she gave birth to a son, Alex - now 29 and a handsome actor - and life seemed good.TCM Classic Film Festival: Leonard Whiting & Olivia Hussey: Romeo & Juliet
The golden couple and their son lived like Hollywood royalty. They had stacks of photos showing all their good times with friends, and you would look at the pictures and suddenly notice that Marilyn Monroe or some other incredible star was standing in the background. When we went to Las Vegas and saw my father-in-law perform, I couldn't believe that I was part of this new circle that seemed bigger than life.
Everyone loved Dean Martinand he seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Since adolescence, he had collected firearms and, as an adult, had developed a taste for seriously powerful guns. Unfortunately for him, some of his weapons were illegal - such as a few high-calibre machine guns - and he was convicted of a federal felony.
The punishment was light - probation and a small fine - but the arrest was enough to convince Olivia that it was time to leave.
Shortly after Dino was convicted, she filed for a legal separation and moved elsewhere with her son. You know, you get very opinionated when you're young—as I'm telling my fourteen-year-old now. You know, we all think we know everything when we're young and then as we grow older we realize we know nothing. But at the time—so I blew those two parts. That was—I really regret that because those would have been two really good pieces of work. I want to ask about something that you maybe don't get asked about as much, which is actually the character of Juliet—playing the character.
She's an everygirl in a sense, but what was Zeffirelli's thought about how the character needed to be played and how did you see her? No, he just 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.
And then—at first I thought, "Well, this dialogue is difficult," but then once you actually—the thing about Shakespeare, the beauty of Shakespeare, is once you know the dialogue, then you can let all the emotions come in.
And another thing that I found over the years, is nobody rewrites Shakespeare. One of the worst things is when you take a job and you approve the script—you take the job, especially on television here—you know, you show up for work and they say, "Well, we've decided"—usually the producers—"We've decided to rewrite the scene. The beauty of Shakespeare is that nobody can rewrite it.
All they can do is delete. They can delete certain speeches or certain lines. And they can't rewrite. Which is really—and he—once you actually get the dialogue down, then you understand it, and it's just—it's absolutely beautiful. And as an actor, it's very fulfilling to play.
Because the dialogue is really, I think, not quite as important as the feelings. But if the dialogue is right, then it should come out at the right moment. And the feelings—it's the feelings that are more important. 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. It is a classic. From our enlightened perspective now, of forty years later, one thing looking back was about—you know, I think you were pressured at the time about your weight. Because I loved to eat. And I was a very compulsive person.
And so when somebody ate one plate of pasta, I'd have to have three. I'm that way too. And all my life I battled you know—until I hit like forty and then I said, "You know what? I'm going to get healthy, and I don't care anymore, you know. I'm just not going to worry about it. And I said, "You know, you've got this one life. Just really enjoy every day and accept yourself the way you are. Once you start to breathe deep and do that, you know, your weight will adjust.
Everything adjusts as soon as you relax. You know, don't take it all so seriously. We're lucky if we get ninety years on this planet— G: We're not here that long. But unfortunately, you have to, you know, live through a large portion of your life before that hits home. For some people, it never does. One of the probably memorable parts of the experience that we haven't talked about of making Romeo and Juliet was the rehearsal period--living in the villa—Franco's villa.
Did you feel like it was a good preparation—that time—or chaotic, or both? Oh, I had a ball. Franco was so colorful and so full of life. And you know, we were all sharing different stories, and people would come, and he always had lots of rooms in the villa—it was fantastic. And he just—for me, anyway, it was fantastic. I had a ball.
Olivia Hussey, star of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet: 'I was wild' | Film | The Guardian
And Franco had a reputation for seducing male cast members that would probably be considered harassment today. Were you conscious of that during the— OH: And I suppose because I was so young I wasn't exposed to that.
And I've heard from a few people that it was tough on them. But, being a girl, I didn't have any problems at all. I just had a really good experience, you know? I became really good friends with Bruce Robinson and, um, um, oh, Mercutio.
I don't see either one of them now. It was a long time ago. But I loved them. We used to hang out a lot. And of course, Leonard. We became like a big family. And you worked with Michael York three times, right? Michael's very, very professional. Your co-star Leonard complained about the nude scene—at least after the fact. What was your attitude about that—I mean obviously you were so young—and the controversy that surrounded that.
Well at the time, I don't think anybody this young in English cinema had ever done anything like that. But it was done so tastefully that it really, you know, I mean—Franco shot it towards the very end of the film, so obviously we'd been working together for months on end.
We all knew each other. And when the bedroom scene actually came around, you know, he sent Mauro, the makeup gentleman, to come up to my dressing room—and he said, "Franco wants you made up from head to toe. And I said, "But why? I'm going to have a long nightgown on. It will be done in the best of taste. So then, it wasn't that difficult. And then the grips at that time, all the men in the crew, you know, got to know us all, and we were the youngest people on the set.
So when we did the bedroom scene, a lot of the men, when they didn't have to, you know, be lighting something, they'd stand there with their backs to us.
So they didn't have to watch what was going on in the shooting, which I thought was very respectful and nice. At the time, you get caught up in the role. I don't know what the big deal was all about anyway. Well I think it's hard to imagine a nude scene that is more justified than that one, in a way. But you know, at the time—now, everybody does nude scenes.
But at that time, nobody other than—Vanessa Redgrave did a nude scene in Blow Up. That was at that time. But she was a lot older than I was at that time. And it was such a counter-cultural film, and this was such a traditional one. But it was really the first nude scene of people our ages, I think.
You worked with Zeffirelli, as you mentioned earlier, about a decade later on Jesus of Nazareth. Was the process any different ten years on? Had he changed as a director? No, we have a really—it's like a bond we have.
You know, like every great director has their actor that works for them and they—and I'm his. I really believe that. And he has said it in articles and things as well. We just—you know, I, he—I don't know. We just have a bond. I sort of know what he wants and—I wish—in a perfect world, I'd love to work with him all the time. I wish that the last thirty years had been only with Zeffirelli, you know, because I just loved working with him. I want to ask about Lost Horizon, which was an international smash hit, right?
I thought it was— OH: People that loved the film, I've got to tell you, get very upset with me if I knock it. It certainly got knocked here in America.
It was voted one of the ten worst films ever made. Yes, it does have that reputation.
But it was a great cast. I got to meet Peter Finch—the late, great Peter Finch. Liv Ullmann, who's a fantastic actress. Michael York again, you know. It was an incredible experience. And I was horribly pregnant during that shooting. So I was vomiting all day long. You know, it was awful. I was trying to pretend I wasn't. Well, it seems like a bizarre kind of torture to have a pregnant woman— OH: Well, he didn't know. They would have replaced me if they had known. And I really didn't want to miss out on the role just because I was pregnant.
And my costumes had to—you know, John Louis, the great designer—they had to keep letting the costumes out because I was getting bigger.
And they were saying, "Olivia, are you eating a lot? And you had to do song and dances. And I loved to si—I loved to do the dancing. But unfortunately, I was so ill— ohhh. Well, I think you come off well in those scenes. I think it's pretty impressive. It was just that I looked so big—because I was three months pregnant—three-and-a-half months. Now you did a beloved cult horror film as well.
I was invited—actually this December, again—you know, poor Bob Clark died last year. And it's funny, because every year he'd call me and say, "Olivia, will you come to the screening of Black Christmas? It's like a cult classic. And every year I'd say, "Oh, Bob.
It starts at midnight. I like to go to bed early. I can't stay up that late. Why don't you just go this time?
'Part of me thinks I am Juliet'
Any they've got pictures of Bob and I together. And what's really funny is that a few months later—two, three months later, he died. I was really glad that I had actually done that at the end. That's a—you know, when I met Steve Martin, years ago—I had just cut all my long hair off, trying to change my image again. And Steve Martin was doing a film called Roxanne. And I was called in to go in and meet. And when he heard I was coming in, he stayed behind with the producer.
And I went into the meeting with my really short-cropped hair and he said, "You were in one of my all-time favorite films, Olivia. He said, "I saw it twenty-three times, and loved it. And they remade it as well. They remade it, and Bob was one of the executive producers on it, but I heard it was horrible. It just became like a slasher movie. Now, speaking of horror films, you also made horror film history by playing Norman Bates' mother.
I wish that the whole thing had been shot in black and white. It would have really been along the lines of the original Psycho. I loved playing a meanie. Normally, I get cast as the vulnerable victim. Were you pleased then, with that experience and how it turned out? I loved working with Henry Thomas. I thought he was wonderful. Very professional young actor. And it was—I was pleased—I wished the film had been a little—done a little better, I think.
You know, I wish it had been in black and white. At least the flashbacks should have been—but I did get to work with Anthony Perkins, who is a wonderful, wonderful actor. And like I say, it's an interesting little piece of that history. And I think I did the best I could do with it. You know, I certainly had a ball playing such a mean person. And you know, after some of the scenes I would say "Henry, please. I'm not like this.
I'm a great mom, you know. In fact, I e-mailed Henry last year.
Where are they now: Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet
He sent me an e-mail of his little girl. Because he and his wife Marie had a beautiful little daughter. And he was in Germany somewhere. Really just a—he should have—he should be working all the time, Henry—he's such a good actor.
Now, another little show-biz history that you brushed against was when you worked with Bette Davis on Death on the Nile. A never-ending film, I tell you. That was, out of all of my projects—I had the worst time on that film.
I was fighting my own demons at the time and, you know, I have the agoraphobia that I've had all my life. I cope with it. And it's just fine. But my panic attacks were awful at that time.
You know, I had no business going on a set. I hadn't left my house for months before I did Death on the Nile. And so I took the part, but I was really in no shape to do it because of the agoraphobia.
‘Romeo & Juliet’ 50th Anniversary: Stars on the Zeffirelli Classic – Variety
So I was on all kinds of like medication—Nardil, it was called. And just, ohh, the whole experience. It was very hard. And John Guillerman, the director, was not the nicest person. So he'd like shout on the set.
And all these seasoned veterans would be, like, quaking in their boots. And he was so charming and nice when you met him, but when he was on the set, I think the pressure got to him. But I hit it off really well with David Niven.
And Peter Ustinov, as well, was very special. David Niven had me in hysterics. And we couldn't look at each other without getting into giggling fits. You remind me of the two of them pushed together. And he said, "You know what, darling? I cannot make eye contact with you because you make me laugh. So what should we do? I'll look at your chin, and you look at my forehead when we have close-ups together.