Katharine Hepburn on Mary Tyrone: Dark Corners and Silences

Katharine Hepburn
Turtle Bay
New York City

She [Mary Tyrone, in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night] scared the hell out of me. I felt I could  understand nothing more than that it was a great part, a great opportunity. I had seen it onstage--marvelous Florence Eldridge; brilliant Fredric March--and I read that play over and over again. I knew that play terribly well. I read scholars of O'Neill; I interviewed them. Oh, I drove them quite mad; I was so insistent. But I didn't understand Mary Tyrone until I was in that lovely, sad, disintegrating house and those delicate, spidery clothes. Lots of dark corners and silences. Days stretching forward like eternity. An eternity of silences. Then I got her. Then I understood her. Then I could see the hell of being ignored, misunderstood, abandoned. A useless person. Perhaps self-created, but still a person, a human, hungry for affection and attention. And shut off from both--from everything. Water and darkness and silence. Fabulous part; fabulous play. And that cast! Ralph [Richardson] and Jason [Robards] and Dean [Stockwell]. And brave, foolish Sidney Lumet, sticking a camera on me and letting me try to understand this woman. Lucky!

With Ralph Richardson

All photographs by Dennis Stock. Taken on the City Island set of Long Day's Journey Into Night, 1961.

©Dennis Stock


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