Irene Papas

  1. Haya Hayareet, Ben-Hur, 1959. The Greek star was among earlier casting plans in 1956. After his 2004 death, Papas admitted to being among Marlon Brando’s legions of lovers – “a long relationship,” 1954-99.
  2. Ilse Steppat, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1968.
  3. Edith Evans, The Madwoman of Chaillot, 1969.   The project had been on producer Ely Landau’s bucket list for six years. Yet here was a major flop…  clearly not helped  by John Huston quitting 17 days before the off and the  clever UK scenarist-turned-director Bryan Forbes taking over just to work with Katharine Hepburn. And now, the old Jean Giraudoux play, as  Roger Ebert wrote,  “staggers under its own dead weight” –  due to a  (mainly old) star stuffed cast: Hepburn, Charles Boyer, Yul Brynner (inheriting Oskar Werner’s Chairman), Richard Chamberlain, John Gavin, Danny Kaye (in his final film), Margaret Leighton,  Guilietta Masina (replacing Simone Signoret) . Plus, as this became   a Forbes film, his favourite  UK actress Dame Edith Evans (replacing Irene Papas). and his wife Nanette Newman.  One good thing came out of it. The Place de Chaillot set was better used by François Truffaut during  La nuit américaine (Day For Night) in 1972.
  4. Hildegard Neil, Antony and Cleopatra, 1971. Despite a few thought about havjng Orson Welles directing Marlon Brando in a reprise of  his 1952 Mark Antony, Charlton Heston grabbed  both roles – he was one of the producers, after all!  Finding his Cleo was more difficult. He first thought of Anne Bancroft, and it was her husband, Mel Brooks, who said no thank you. Next: Diana Rigg, Portia in the 1969 Julius Caesar. “Charley Hero” then shuffled through Sophia Loren (the  El Cid co-star he never got on with), the Greek Irene Papas and four  other  true Brits: Glenda Jackson,  Vanessa Redgrave, Susannah York – and signed the less expensive Neil.  The film was, sang The Guardian critic Derek Malcolm, “The Biggest Asp Disaster in the World.”
  5. Ruth Gabriel, Nostromo, TV, 1996. Klaus Maria Brandauer, Papas, Dennis Quaid, Isabella Rossellini all disapeared when budget hassles – due to director David Lean’s health – churned his Joseph Conrad epic into  a mini-series.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  5