Audrey Hepburn's Tears At The End Of Roman Holiday Were More Real Than You Thought

"I was just sort of launched on this career," Audrey Hepburn told The Washington Post in 1985. "I went from one picture to the other, really, trying to sort of catch up with myself. I was totally unaware of the great significance of doing my first [American] movie." The "Breakfast at Tiffany's" star carried herself through the realm of stardom with purposeful grace and unwavering class, never sporting her fame like some noble insignia that made her shine brighter than anyone else. As a result, she seemed to naturally glow with a sort of regal tenderness and radiant charisma. Funny how that happens.

Hepburn was equal parts fairy tale princess and the ultimate girl next door (both of which she portrayed in different films), and the movie world couldn't get enough of her. The "first American movie" she references in the passage above was "Roman Holiday," a debut that earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress at the 1954 ceremony. The film tells the story of a European princess (Hepburn) that falls in love with an American reporter (Gregory Peck) after accidentally failing to return to her hotel room one night while vacationing in Rome. It's a charming little romance fable that digs deeper than your average run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, summoning some significant emotional gravity from the viewer. According to Audrey Hepburn herself, she was no exception to the film's sensational effect on the tear ducts. 

Audrey Hepburn really cried in the final scene

While there's nothing Shakespearean about the tragedy that drapes the finale of "Roman Holiday" (there are no hopeless lovers drinking poison and plunging daggers into their hearts to be together in the afterlife), it doesn't exactly have a happy ending. Spoiler alert: Sadly, the two main characters are forced to go their separate ways before the credits roll, which isn't the "happily ever after" conclusion that everyone thirsts for throughout the film. 

 "Roman Holiday" is a film that touches upon real human emotion, and the fact of the matter is that life doesn't always provide us with a gratifying epilogue to every story we live out (whether fictional or not). Sometimes things don't go our way, and that's just how it is. Hepburn's character, who leads a life of charming royalty and is used to getting almost everything she wants, finds this lesson out the hard way. So you can't blame her for shedding a few tears during the film's farewell sequence. However, you probably weren't aware that she was hardly acting. According to Mental Floss, those crystalline tears streaming down her rosy cheeks were authentic.

How she got herself to summon real tears

"I couldn't cry. I thought I was crying. I was pretending to cry, but it was no good at all," the actress told The Washington Post. "There were no proper tears. They tried glycerin. Take after take, it wasn't any good." To be fair, crying on command isn't an easy task. It takes some serious method acting and meticulous devotion to your craft to cry before a camera, and even then, there's no guarantee you'll be able to unleash the waterworks. At the moment, the pressure to do so fell upon Audrey Hepburn like a ton of bricks. But try as she might, she couldn't seem to deliver. 

Then, in a frenzy of frustration and surmounting angst, director William Wyler exclaimed, "We can't stay here all night. Can't you cry, for God's sake?" before storming off the set. According to Mental Floss, Wyler was incredibly kind and welcoming toward Hepburn throughout production. Still, at that point, his capacity for patience was drier than the frazzled actress' vacant tear ducts (he reportedly apologized to her after the fact). That was all the push she needed, and before she could reassemble herself, she started sobbing. "I was so upset. He was so angry with me, I just started to cry," she went on. "That's how you learn. He knew with me there was no point in trying to teach me. He would just make me cry ... "