Jean Simmons (1929–2010)
Born: January 31, 1929 in Crouch Hill, London, England, UK
Died: January 22, 2010 (age 80) in Santa Monica, California, USA
[on working with William Wyler in The Big Country (1958)] The atmosphere [on set] felt very dodgy – the sort of prevailing tension that invites paranoia, causes you to wonder, “What have I done?”… I guess Willy was in a position to know what it took to achieve great performances, but he also seemed bent on making things difficult… and there was all that constant rewriting. We’d have our lines learned, then receive a rewrite, stay up all night learning the new version, then receive yet another rewrite the following morning. It made the acting damned near impossible. In Willy’s favor, he was very agreeable in allowing me to think, and think, and think, and then think some more before I made my reply to [Gregory Peck’s] offer. I felt a prompt answer would not serve the moment, and Willy proved most open and agreeable on that count. He could make you worry – order take after take without ever telling you what you were doing to provoke the retakes – he could also cause you to feel a sense of collaboration.
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