Leslie Howard vs. Ashley Wilkes
Leslie did not like Ashley Wilkes at all and – biographies say -did not even take the trouble of reading Gone With the Wind.
Leslie Rut’h’s book cites a few letters in which her father made ironical remarks about himself in the Ashley role:
I swear I would be afraid to meet you- I look so peculiar. My hair is corn coloured- a delicious yellow and frightfully long. It flies in the breeze and my whiskers have grown to the ends of my ears- I look like an albino butler…
Yesterday I put on my Confederate uniform for the first time and looked like a fairy doorman at the Beverly Wiltshire- a fine thing at my age.
I hate the damn part. I have done two technicolour tests, both rotten. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.
Yet, though he had accepted to play Ashley against his will, it is impossible, for us, to forget him. And this is the magic of cinema. And of the extraordinary sensitiveness of an actor who was able to take up a hideous character and make a human being of him, somebody who still lives in our hearts. There are scenes in that film that will be impressed in our memory forever.