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Trivia / Olivia Hussey

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  • Ability over Appearance: The Shakespearean text describes Juliet as a blonde. Olivia herself recalls being asked how she thought Juliet should look - and she responded something like fair hair and blue eyes - and being shocked that she won the part, as a dark-haired, olive-skinned Argentinian.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: The Made-for-TV Movie Mother Teresa was apparently a "dream role".
  • Contractual Purity: She was expected to have this while acting as Juliet, and she and the other young actors were forbidden from partying in Italy at the time. She rebelled in one famous interview where she tied her hair back, smoked a cigarette and sipped a glass of mimosa for the full fifteen minutes.
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  • Corpsing: She and David Niven kept corpsing in all their scenes together in Death on the Nile, so they had to make sure they didn't look each other directly in the eye.
  • Creator Backlash: She didn't enjoy making It (1990), mainly because she felt the production company treated her like an afterthought.
  • Creator Breakdown:
    • Jesus of Nazareth was filmed over eight months in the Moroccan desert, and she wasn't able to fly home to visit her family on the block of days she wasn't required (Zeffirelli told her they needed her on standby in case they had to change the schedule). Thus on the days she wasn't working, she sat alone in her hotel room and took to drinking a lot. She even admitted to being drunk when filming the scene of Mary cradling Jesus's body.
    • Death on the Nile coincided with her mother falling ill, but again she was unable to visit her. The illness turned out to be not that serious, but she didn't find out until the end of the shoot - and thus doesn't have fond memories of it.
  • Dawson Casting:
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    • If you go by the Shakespearean text, Juliet is thirteen about to turn fourteen. Olivia was fifteen and turned sixteen during the shoot.
    • She was 23 playing a college student in Black Christmas (1974).
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
    • She was on a strict diet and forbidden to eat cakes and pastas while filming Romeo and Juliet (1968).
    • She had to stay on a similar diet for All the Right Noises, after producers decided she would spend half the film in her underwear.
  • Fake Nationality: In Mother Teresa she plays the North Macedonian (at the time Ottoman)-born Albanian-Indian titular character.
  • Fake Scot: Her first major role was as Jenny in the West End version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which is set in a Scottish girls' school.
  • Fake Shemp: She was reluctant to do a nude scene in Turkey Shoot, so the close-up that shows Chris's breasts is provided by a body double.
    "Ironically when I saw the finished film and what the body double looked like, I wished I'd done the damned nudity. I had a much better body than she did."
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  • Hide Your Pregnancy: She discovered she was pregnant right after she was cast in Lost Horizon, and kept it a secret from most people during production (helped by the costume designer who made alterations).
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: The buzz surrounding her from Romeo and Juliet (1968) led to her being offered roles in Anne of the Thousand Days and True Grit but she turned them down due to teenage nerves, and took a couple of years off after Romeo & Juliet. She did however star in notable projects like Jesus of Nazareth, Death on the Nile, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and The Bastard - or else Cult Classics like Black Christmas (1974) or IT 1990. So while it's not the career it could have been, her filmography is still quite varied.
  • Hostility on the Set: She and Bette Davis didn't get on while filming Death on the Nile. In her autobiography, a cast picture from the film has the caption that Bette would probably have preferred her to be in the dinghy behind the boat for it.
  • I Am Not Spock: Despite an extensive resume in TV and film, she is best known as Juliet. She even titled her autobiography 'The Girl on the Balcony' - and said that whoever was reading the book was probably doing so because of Romeo & Juliet. When she met Steve Martin to talk about starring in Roxanne, he told her she was in one of his "all-time favorite films" that he had seen 22 times. She assumed it was Romeo & Juliet, but it turned out to be Black Christmas (1974).
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: She and Leonard Whiting reunited for Social Suicide (see below).
  • Looping Lines: She had to do a lot of it in Romeo and Juliet (1968), and Franco Zeffirelli's perfectionist ways led her to believe she wasn't any good at it. Then she had to dub the film All the Right Noises, and did so in only two hours.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Her singing was dubbed along with everyone else's for Lost Horizon.
  • Old Shame:
    • Lost Horizon, which she did when she was trying to work after her troubled relationship with Christopher Jones, and was saddened by its critical and commercial failure. However, in her autobiography she admits that it's "enjoyably bad".
    • Turkey Shoot, which she only made because the part was offered to her. On Twitter, she responded to a tweet from a fan about to see it with something to the effect of "I hope you have a good sense of humor..."
  • One-Take Wonder: Her first scene in Romeo and Juliet (1968) was when Juliet runs into Paris while going to see Friar Laurence. Olivia ran all around the set to get herself agitated enough and insisted she didn't need to be directed. After they called for cut, there was a moment's silence before...
    "'One Take Hussey', I think we'll call her from now on..."
  • Playing Against Type: How about her turn as the schizophrenic Norma Bates in Psycho IV?
  • Production Posse: Franco Zeffirelli directed her in Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Jesus of Nazareth. He'd planned to direct her in another film (see below) but it never materialised.
  • Real-Life Relative: In Social Suicide, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, she played the mother of Julia (the modern Juliet), who's played by her daughter India Eisley. The two also had roles as unrelated characters in the earlier film Headspace.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Her dealing with the mob in Summertime Killer eerily paralleled her own experiences with them while married into the Martin family (she once unknowingly got the mob to threaten her landlord, who'd been complaining about her having too many dogs in the house).
    • In Black Christmas (1974), her character is dealing with a relationship falling apart, and she filmed it right after her divorce from Dean Paul Martin. Additionally Jess plans to get an abortion, and Olivia chose to get one a few years earlier after being raped by Christopher Jones. Ironically the film was made after she welcomed her first child.
  • The Red Stapler: Her Rapunzel Hair in Romeo and Juliet (1968) inspired many girls to grow theirs out long.
  • Romance on the Set: She and Leonard Whiting briefly dated while making Romeo & Juliet but decided they were Better as Friends.
  • Star-Making Role: She received massive attention and acclaim for Romeo & Juliet.
  • Underage Casting: Justified in Jesus of Nazareth, as she plays the Virgin Mary throughout without aging. This is because it was said Mary never aged.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • She was actually turned down for the role of Juliet at first. But eventually the actress Franco Zeffirelli favored cut her hair and he lost interest in her. Olivia by this point had become a beautiful teenager, and won the part on a second reading.
    • After seeing her as Juliet, a producer asked her at a party about starring in the film True Grit. Young and naive, she said "John Wayne doesn't do it for me", and was not asked again.
    • Franco Zeffirelli had been trying to get a film version of La Dame aux Camelias made for her to star in, but had trouble getting funding for (she actually turned down multiple roles to keep herself available for it). While she was away filming Lost Horizon, he ended up casting Liza Minnelli (who had just won an Oscar for Cabaret) but the project never materialised.
    • She lobbied for the role of Marmee in the 1994 version of Little Women, but was turned down because of her thick English accent. Susan Sarandon played the role.
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