Playing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s helped Audrey Hepburn become a legend. Due to the lasting impression she left on popular culture, she is still frequently brought up in conversation today.
While the actress has been dead for decades, she seems remarkably similar to her granddaughter, Emma Ferrer.
May of 1994 saw the arrival of Emma Ferrer. A year and a half after the passing of her legendary grandmother Audrey Hepburn, her paternal grandma.
So, Ferrer never actually met her grandma in person, but she has learned quite a bit about her through the course of her 28 years.
She has a sense of what her late grandma was like as a person and performer because to viewings of films in which she appeared or thanks to information provided by family members.
“Slowly, I started going to friends’ houses and seeing that she was in a poster in their kitchen, or I would see her on a T-shirt or on handbags. (It was like), ‘I guess this actually is a bigger deal than I thought it was,’” Ferrer said in an interview.
She has matured and realized the magnitude of her grandmother’s contributions to society.
The young Belgian actress received an Academy Award and helped popularize the black turtleneck.
Since 1989, she has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a position for which she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.
“She really revolutionized what we take for granted today … which is to have a celebrity of her magnitude associated with a cause like she was,” Ferrer said of her grandmother. “But at the time — I don’t know if we can really appreciate how revolutionary that, in fact, was.”
Ferrer herself works closely with UNICEF, she says, it serves as “a way for me to really kind of feel a connection to her that … I’ve struggled to feel otherwise.”
While Emma Ferrer and her grandmother may not have had a close bond, she did inherit her grandma’s good looks. The young woman who is an artist by profession has her grandmother’s signature black hair and soulful expressive eyes.
The late actress’s eldest son from her first marriage to actor Mel Ferrer is Sean Hepburn Ferrer, Emma’s father. During her second marriage to Italian doctor Andrea Dotti, she gave birth to a son named Luca Dotti.
Emma talks about how her father has shared memories of her late grandma with her that she otherwise would not have known.
“There’s been an intimacy in what my dad tells me about her and the stories that people who knew her tell me about,” Ferrer said.
“Working on set, she would use her lunch break to cook lunch for the whole crew. She did this famous — I guess it was a series on gardens of the world with this … famous news TV personality. … This news person, she got a stain on her shirt, and so my grandmother took her shirt and went and laundered it in her hotel room dry cleaner.”
“These little things, she always brought flowers, and she would bring breakfast in bed if you were staying at her house,” Ferrer continued. “(She) just did these little things that make her seem like she was just the best, the nicest person,” Ferrer shares of what she knows and has heard.
However, Ferrer is pleased to boast that her grandma put her family before her job.
“She had this huge career, and she took really big steps back from it when my dad and his brother were born. She kind of put her whole career on the line for them and turned down movies, where her agent and her husband even were like, ‘What are you doing? You have to take this role,” Ferrer says proudly.
It’s assumed that Hepburn’s motivation came from her own difficult relationships with her father as a child. They say she and her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, had a “very troubled” relationship. To which Ferrer adds, “I honestly think that she took her relationship with her kids incredibly seriously.”
In addition, she emphasizes how her grandmother’s experiences as “a child of a generation afflicted by war” shaped her outlook and character.
“She started working as a ballerina, and that didn’t work out. And then she was sort of immediately flung into this arena — this world of Hollywood — and I think that coming off of the heels of the Second World War … everything was just moving faster,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer claims that Hepburn had the epiphany that she would “never be so devoted to worldly things, no matter what” when she saw her aristocratic family “eating off of bread” during World War II.
The items Hepburn left behind are “not particularly valuable,” per se, but are nevertheless “valuable,” as explained by Ferrer.
“I have her little linen teddy bear that’s so old and has a coffee stain on it, and it’s still on my bed at my dad’s house. And I have sweaters that I just have worn so much over the years, and I’ll put it on and forget that it’s hers,” she added.
Her grandmother’s movie-worn costume jewelry also remains in her possession. “They’re things made of not valuable metals at all, but it’s a nice way again to feel like … she’s teaching me things.”
In addition, her grandma taught her that life itself is of paramount importance. She stated her grandma was “putting the life of a child before politics, before anything else.” “She was always very apolitical,” she adds.
This causes her to ponder her grandmother’s perspective on the current condition of affairs. “I would love to have … a trailer for everything that has happened since she’s died, and then just been like, ‘Alright, so, hit me. What are your thoughts today?’”
Ferrer has watched her grandmother’s films to learn more about her, but admits that doing so has been an emotional experience.
She shares, “It’s a very abstract thing, and I’m surprised that you pick up on that.” Continuing, “It’s this dichotomy of wishing that I had had the chance to know her and also feeling really intimidated by who she is. … It’s like a push and pull a little bit in that way.”
According to her, her grandmother was a nice lady, as evidenced by the fact that, as she puts it, “something that my dad always says about her, which I think is so interesting, is that no one has anything bad to say about Audrey Hepburn ever, which is so true. It’s like, what could you possibly say bad about her?”
It warms my heart to know that Emma Ferrer, granddaughter of Audrey Hepburn, honors her grandmother’s legacy in this way, even if she never had the chance to meet her.
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