Tea, Terror, and Wait Until Dark

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Wait Until Dark was based on the successful play written by Frederick Knott, also known for penning Dial M for Murder. The original production starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall in the roles that Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin would play in the box-office smash adaption that grossed more than 11 million dollars in 1967.

1. Hepburn worked hard.

She worked with a physician to understand life from the perspective of the blind. She wore a blinder mask and learned to walk with a cane. Perhaps the hardest part was controlling the movement of her eyes so they were realistic. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. said, “Working with her was heaven.” According to the director, Hepburn worked so hard at the role that she lost fifteen pounds. Hepburn’s performance was critically acclaimed, and she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

2. The set was tea-friendly.

It all began when director Terrence Young had tea brought for himself on the set. Hepburn asked for some too, and later, brought mugs for both of them with their nicknames hand-painted on them (“The Toff” and “Aud”). Soon, other actors and crew joined (sometimes jokingly), and it turned into a tea party where they used English accents and brought treats for each other. Young said, “I had the Props Department lay out a square of fake grass with pedestals and huge vases at the four corners, filled with ghastly plastic flowers.”

3. Arkin loved working with Hepburn.

Producer Mel Ferrer, who was married to Hepburn at the time, said “I started casting and thought of Alan Arkin. He’s such a meanie when he wants to be.” Arkin purposefully played the character with a laid-back vibe so that his maniacal moments would pop.  “I hated terrorizing Audrey Hepburn. I was nuts about her,” Alan Arkin said. “She was witty. She was an enormously hard worker. I felt like I was working with real royalty.” His performance was spooky good, and even got a double-thumbs up from studio head Jack Warner who loved the climactic scene at the end.