Southern belle role goes to northern star: British actress beats 20,000 hopefuls to plum part of Scarlett O'Hara

BRUSHING aside more than 20,000 applications, the makers of the sequel to Gone With the Wind yesterday announced that the woman they wanted as Scarlett O'Hara was Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, a 29-year-old Mancunian.

The choice of Whalley-Kilmer, best known for her rendering of Christine Keeler in Scandal, marks the second time in 55 years that a Briton has landed the role despite competition from a horde of Americans.

Such was certainly the case in 1938 when the little-known Vivien Leigh (born in India to British parents) was chosen to play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind after producers searched high schools and colleges across the US. Leigh, who won an Oscar, triumphed over an impressive list of contenders (Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford) despite a widespread view that the part should go to a Southerner who knew something about the Civil War.

The CBS mini-series sequel, Scarlett, is being made by Robert Halmi, a Hungarian-born producer who bought the rights for dollars 9m (pounds 6.08m). There are plans for the eight-hour series to be broadcast in the US and 40 other countries next November.

Whalley-Kilmer's appointment ends months of speculation, orchestrated by Halmi. Film buffs have bickered over whether the part should go to Meryl Streep, Sissy Spacek or Jane Seymour. 'I have always had a passion for Scarlett O'Hara,' said Ms Whalley-Kilmer said yesterday. 'I never imagined that one day I would have the chance to play her.'

Halmi claims to have received 10,000 applicants from Europe and the US respectively. Attention has switched to who will fill Clark Gable's shoes as Rhett Butler. The rumour in Hollywood is that Timothy Dalton will get it.

It is doubtful whether the mini-series achieved anything approaching the film's success. Alexandra Ripley's 823-page Scarlett, upon which it is based, was savaged by critics as a feeble follow-up to Margaret Mitchell's classic. It is 'a tour de faiblesse of ineptitude, incoherence and unimaginative droning,' said the National Review, condemning it as 'a non-event and a waste disposal problem'. The Washington Post was hardly kinder. Echoing Rhett, it concluded: 'Frankly, it's damnable.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor