Dear Olivia

Dear Olivia,

     I am writing to commend you on a wonderful performance in The Heiress, William Wyler's 1949 portrayal of Henry James's 1880 novel, Washington Square. While watching the movie in my film class just a week ago, I was immediately attracted to your character, your transition, if you will, of self. In a sense I could relate to your character; however, I did not suffer the harsh behavior of my father the way in which your character did.

     Anyway, I would like to ask you a few questions about your transformation into Catherine. You see, I would very much like to be an actress but have not yet mastered the art of playing anyone besides myself. First, I must say that your character seemed very meek and as Ralph Richardson's Dr. Sloper would say not in the least bit clever when first introduced. However, to me, you were just hiding your true self because of your father's expectations. You seemed to do everything in your power to appease him when you knew that he could never accept you as anything but his offspring. How did you so calmly deal with him when he first objected to Montgomery Clift's Morris and then stand up to him so strongly when you realized that Morris was the man you wanted to spend your life with? Catherine's sweetness and innocence seemed to erupt into a bitterness hidden by a very stoic and detached look. What was it that allowed you to feel the way that Catherine must have felt when you confessed that no one had ever loved your character, even her father. Have you yourself ever felt this way, or is it merely just acting, Personally, I do not think that it was; your emotions were much too strong to pretend them.

     Well, of course, I cannot know exactly how you felt about your role, and that is the reason I am writing you. Could you please share your techniques with me, or at least give some words of advice to a hopeful actress. Anything that you could offer to me, I am sure that it would be very helpful.

     P.S. What are some other films that you have been in? I would like to watch them.


Julie Woodrome

Table of Contents