If you’ve never seen the 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark, you’re seriously missing out. It’s about a young blind woman named Susy (played by Audrey Hepburn) who becomes inadvertently embroiled in a violent drug smuggling heist. The vast majority of the film is set in Susy’s flat, where she is slowly and nail-bitingly terrorized by an ever-more psychotic criminal (played by Alan Arkin) in a nerve-shredding game of cat-and-mouse.
But it’s not what happens on screen in Wait Until Dark that concerns us here, but rather what happened off set.
According to a 1995 biography of Audrey Hepburn, during rehearsals for Wait Until Dark she and Alan Arkin met up regularly in LA to discuss their characters and performances. Harrigan’s, a high-end restaurant near the Warner Brothers’ studios in Hollywood, became their regular meeting place, and together the pair would meet up—in typical Golden Age of Hollywood style—to run lines and discuss scenes over cocktails.
And every single time they met up Hepburn wore a garish pink silk blindfold.
To prepare for playing a blind character, Hepburn took to wearing a silk sleeping mask while out and about in LA—and that included during all of her regular meals with her co-star. Being just as much a method actor as Hepburn, Arkin applauded her dedication to the part, and notably praised her professionalism in several promotional interviews and awards show speeches at the time. But dedication to a movie role is one thing. Being blindfolded in a high-end Hollywood restaurant is another.
Hepburn’s unending methodic preparation for playing the part of Susy reportedly landed her in a spot of bother one evening at Harrigan’s, when she excused herself from the table and, heading for what she believed to be the ladies’ powder room, wandered behind the restaurant bar and into a disused storeroom adjoining the kitchen.
Happily, the restaurant manager spotted Hepburn’s mistake and quickly stepped in to guide her back out of the store and towards the ladies’ room before she tried to sit down on the hob or flush the lobster tank.