Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable will forever be associated with ‘Gone with the Wind’ and it seems almost impossible to imagine anyone else as Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, although, after watching these screen tests you may change your mind.
Producer David O. Selznick always wanted Gable as Rhett from the beginning of the project but Leigh was only cast after a two year search. By all accounts Selznick was a publicity genius and rather than go down the usual route of casting he turned his quest for the perfect Scarlett O’Hara into a grand publicity stunt, interviewing 1,400 unknown actresses in a nationwide casting call and auditioning dozens of Hollywood actresses.
In this video clip, we get the opportunity to see some of the 32 screen tests that were made for Scarlett, along with a few for other roles. Those trying out for the role include; Tallulah Bankhead, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett, Jean Arthur and finalist Paulette Goddard, who narrowly missed getting the part. Selznick eventually chose Leigh, a relatively unknown actress who he first thought was ‘too British’ for the role of a southern belle.
On an aside, Leigh did have one thing in common with Scarlett and that was self-assurance. In July 1937, a year and a half before Selznick ever laid eyes on her Leigh told a reporter for the ‘London Evening News’, “I’ve cast myself as Scarlett O’Hara. What do you think?”
Via Open Culture
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