Screen Tests for Gone with the Wind: What Could Have Been


The image of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh togeth­er in Gone with the Wind is so firm­ly estab­lished in the iconog­ra­phy of pop­u­lar cul­ture that it seems almost impos­si­ble to imag­ine any­one else as Rhett But­ler and Scar­lett O’Hara.

Pro­duc­er David O. Selznick had his sights set on Gable almost from the start, but Leigh was cast only after a two-year search. Ever the oppor­tunist, Selznick turned his quest for the per­fect Scar­lett O’Hara into a grand pub­lic­i­ty stunt, inter­view­ing 1,400 unknown actress­es in a nation­wide cast­ing call and audi­tion­ing dozens of Hol­ly­wood actress­es.

In this fas­ci­nat­ing clip from the 1989 film Mak­ing of a Leg­end: Gone with the Wind, we see some of the 32 screen tests that were made for Scar­lett, along with a few for oth­er roles. Those try­ing out for Scar­lett include Tal­lu­lah Bankhead, Susan Hay­ward, Lana Turn­er, Joan Ben­nett, Jean Arthur and final­ist Paulette God­dard, who nar­row­ly missed get­ting the part. Selznick even­tu­al­ly chose Leigh, a rel­a­tive­ly unknown actress who he first thought was “too British” for the role of a south­ern belle. One thing Leigh had in com­mon with Scar­lett was self-assur­ance. In July of 1937–a year and a half before Selznick ever laid eyes on her–Leigh told a reporter for the Lon­don Evening News, “I’ve cast myself as Scar­lett O’Hara. What do you think?”

Relat­ed con­tent:

Audrey Hep­burn’s Screen Test for Roman Hol­i­day (1953)

Mar­lene Diet­rich’s Tem­pera­men­tal Screen Test for The Blue Angel

Paul New­man and James Dean Screen Test for East of Eden


by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.