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Kristin Davis (Sex and the City 2) Interview
Life and career[ edit ] — Nelson, known as "Ham". Ed Sikov sources Davis' first professional role to a production by the Provincetown Players of Virgil Geddes play The Earth Between; however, the production was postponed by a year. Davis and her mother traveled by train to Hollywood. She later recounted her surprise that nobody from the studio was there to meet her. In fact, a studio employee had waited for her, but left because he saw nobody who "looked like an actress". She failed her first screen test, but was used in several screen tests for other actors. In a interview with Dick Cavett , she related the experience with the observation, "I was the most Yankee-est, most modest virgin who ever walked the earth. They laid me on a couch, and I tested fifteen men They all had to lie on top of me and give me a passionate kiss. Oh, I thought I would die. Just thought I would die. Hastily dressed in an ill-fitting costume with a low neckline, she was rebuffed by the film director William Wyler , who loudly commented to the assembled crew, "What do you think of these dames who show their chests and think they can get jobs? After one year, and six unsuccessful films, Laemmle elected not to renew her contract. Davis addressed the issue in an interview, pointing out that many Hollywood wives earned more than their husbands, but the situation proved difficult for Nelson, who refused to allow Davis to purchase a house until he could afford to pay for it himself. Somerset Maugham 's novel, earned Davis her first major critical acclaim. Many actresses feared playing unsympathetic characters, and several had refused the role, but Davis viewed it as an opportunity to show the range of her acting skills. Her co-star, Leslie Howard , was initially dismissive of her, but as filming progressed, his attitude changed, and he subsequently spoke highly of her abilities. The director John Cromwell allowed her relative freedom: I trusted her instincts. This prompted an announcement from the Academy president, Howard Estabrook , who said that under the circumstances, "any voter Arnot Robertson wrote in Picture Post: I think Bette Davis would probably have been burned as a witch if she had lived two or three hundred years ago. She gives the curious feeling of being charged with power which can find no ordinary outlet. Legal case[ edit ] Convinced that her career was being damaged by a succession of mediocre films, Davis accepted an offer in to appear in two films in Britain. Knowing that she was breaching her contract with Warner Bros. Eventually, Davis brought her case to court in Britain, hoping to get out of her contract. Hastings urged the court to "come to the conclusion that this is rather a naughty young lady, and that what she wants is more money". He remarked, "If anybody wants to put me into perpetual servitude on the basis of that remuneration, I shall prepare to consider it. Jack Warner testified, and was asked, "Whatever part you choose to call upon her to play, if she thinks she can play it, whether it is distasteful and cheap, she has to play it? Warner replied, "Yes, she must play it. Olivia de Havilland mounted a similar case in , and won. Success with Warner Bros. She later described him as the "love of my life", and said that making the film with him was "the time in my life of my most perfect happiness". This led to speculation in the press that she would be chosen to play Scarlett O'Hara , a similar character, in Gone with the Wind. Davis expressed her desire to play Scarlett, and while David O. Selznick was conducting a search for the actress to play the role, a radio poll named her as the audience favorite. Warner offered her services to Selznick as part of a deal that also included Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, but Selznick did not consider Davis as suitable, and rejected the offer,  while Davis did not want Flynn cast as Rhett Butler. Jezebel marked the beginning of the most successful phase of Davis' career, and over the next few years, she was listed in the annual Quigley Poll of the Top Ten Money-Making Stars, which was compiled from the votes of movie exhibitors throughout the U. In , Nelson obtained evidence that Davis was engaged in a sexual relationship with Howard Hughes , and subsequently filed for divorce, citing Davis' "cruel and inhuman manner". Wallis convinced her to channel her despair into her acting. The film became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, and the role of Judith Traherne brought her an Academy Award nomination. In later years, Davis cited this performance as her personal favorite. The last was her first color film, and her only color film made during the height of her career. To play the elderly Elizabeth I of England , Davis shaved her hairline and eyebrows. During filming, she was visited on the set by the actor Charles Laughton. She commented that she had a "nerve" playing a woman in her 60s, to which Laughton replied, "Never not dare to hang yourself. That's the only way you grow in your profession. You must continually attempt things that you think are beyond you, or you get into a complete rut. Her image was considered with more care; although she continued to play character roles, she was often filmed in close-ups that emphasized her distinctive eyes. All This, and Heaven Too was the most financially successful film of Davis' career to that point. The Letter was considered "one of the best pictures of the year" by The Hollywood Reporter, and Davis won admiration for her portrayal of an adulterous killer, a role originated by Katharine Cornell. Davis refused, as she had met Arthur Farnsworth, a New England innkeeper. Davis rejected the idea of her being just "a figurehead only". Faced with the disapproval and resistance of the committee, Davis resigned, and was succeeded by her predecessor Walter Wanger. It was a refreshingly different role for Davis, as she played a kind, sympathetic character. William Wyler directed Davis for the third time in Lillian Hellman 's The Little Foxes , but they clashed over the character of Regina Giddens, a role originally played on Broadway by Tallulah Bankhead Davis had portrayed in film roles initiated by Bankhead on the stage twice before - in Dark Victory, and Jezebel. Wyler encouraged Davis to emulate Bankhead's interpretation of the role, but Davis wanted to make the role her own. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance, and never worked with Wyler again. War effort and personal tragedy[ edit ] Following the attack on Pearl Harbor , Davis spent the early months of selling war bonds. After Jack Warner criticized her tendency to cajole crowds into buying, she reminded him that her audiences responded most strongly to her "bitch" performances. She also performed for black regiments as the only white member of an acting troupe formed by Hattie McDaniel , which included Lena Horne and Ethel Waters. Hollywood's most important stars volunteered to entertain servicemen. Davis ensured that every night, a few important "names" would be there for the visiting soldiers to meet. Davis later commented, "There are few accomplishments in my life that I am sincerely proud of. The Hollywood Canteen is one of them. It became one of the best known of her "women's pictures". In one of the film's most imitated scenes, Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes as he stares into Davis' eyes, and passes one to her. Film reviewers complimented Davis on her performance, the National Board of Review commenting that she gave the film "a dignity not fully warranted by the script". Davis performed a novelty song, "They're Either Too Young or Too Old", which became a hit record after the film's release. Old Acquaintance reunited her with Miriam Hopkins in a story of two old friends who deal with the tensions created when one of them becomes a successful novelist. Davis felt that Hopkins tried to upstage her throughout the film. Director Vincent Sherman recalled the intense competition and animosity between the two actresses, and Davis often joked that she held back nothing in a scene in which she was required to shake Hopkins in a fit of anger. An autopsy revealed that his fall had been caused by a skull fracture he had suffered two weeks earlier. Davis testified before an inquest that she knew of no event that might have caused the injury. A finding of accidental death was reached. Highly distraught, Davis attempted to withdraw from her next film Mr. Skeffington , but Jack Warner, who had halted production following Farnsworth's death, convinced her to continue. Although she had gained a reputation for being forthright and demanding, her behavior during filming of Mr. Skeffington was erratic, and out of character. She alienated Vincent Sherman by refusing to film certain scenes and insisting that some sets be rebuilt. She improvised dialogue, causing confusion among other actors, and infuriated the writer, Julius Epstein , who was called upon to rewrite scenes at her whim. Davis later explained her actions with the observation, "When I was most unhappy, I lashed out, rather than whined. Despite the studio's suggestion that she play the role as young woman, Davis age 37 insisted on aging her appearance to fit the part In , Davis married artist William Grant Sherry, who also worked as a masseur. She had been drawn to him because he claimed he had never heard of her and was, therefore, not intimidated by her. Davis played Miss Moffat, an English teacher who saves a young Welsh miner John Dall from a life in the coal pits, by offering him education. The part had been played in the theatre by Ethel Barrymore , but Warner Bros. Davis disagreed, and insisted on playing the part as written, and wore a gray wig and padding under her clothes, to create a dowdy appearance. Treasury named Davis as the highest-paid woman in the country,  with her share of the film's profit accounting for most of her earnings. Her next film was Deception , the first of her films to lose money. However, she was pregnant and went on maternity leave. As she continued making films, however, her relationship with her daughter B. When informed that the film was to be shot in Africa, Davis refused the part, telling Jack Warner, "If you can't shoot the picture in a boat on the back lot, then I'm not interested. Originally intended to pair Davis with Joan Crawford, Davis made it clear that she would not appear in any "dyke movie". Although she initially was enthusiastic, she soon learned that Warner had arranged for "softer" lighting to be used to disguise her age. She recalled that she had seen the same lighting technique "on the sets of Ruth Chatterton and Kay Francis, and I knew what they meant". She disagreed with changes made to the script because of censorship restrictions, and found that many of the aspects of the role that had initially appealed to her had been cut. The film was described by Bosley Crowther as "interminable", and he noted that "of all the miserable dilemmas in which Miss Davis has been involved Despite the lackluster box office receipts from her more recent films, in , she negotiated a four-film contract with Warner Bros.
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