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'A spiritual biography': Sean Ferrer on New York Times best-selling book about mom Audrey Hepburn |

Arts and Culture

'A spiritual biography': Sean Ferrer on New York Times best-selling book about mom Audrey Hepburn

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -
'A spiritual biography': Sean Ferrer on New York Times best-selling book about mom Audrey Hepburn
Clockwise: A copy of 'Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit;' Sean and Audrey; Sean at the Manila opening of 'Intimate Audrey' / Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo; Sean Hepburn Ferrer; S Maison at Conrad via Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — How different was Audrey Hepburn the Hollywood superstar from Audrey, Sean Hepburn Ferrer’s mom?

According to the American film producer, who was in Manila to personally cut the ribbon of “Intimate Audrey” at S Maison yesterday, there was really not much difference between the Audrey he grew up with, from the one millions of adoring fans see in the movies.

“She’s very similar. She wasn’t a method actor,” the fashion icon’s eldest son told in an exclusive interview following the opening of “Intimate Audrey,” a virtual walk-through version of his New York Times-bestselling biography “Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit,” originally published in 1999.

“I don’t think I have a favorite. Neither did she. I think each film was a wonderful beginning of a friendship for her like with Gregory Peck for ‘Roman Holiday,’ then William Wyler, ‘Sabrina’… Obviously, there’s no doubt that ‘Funny Face,’ because she was going to be a dancer. For her to do a film about dancing, that was very important, valuable," Sean said when asked what is his most favorite movie that his mom starred in.

“Hepburn Ferrer shares his memories of life with his mother. It is a story full of unprecedented revelations, as it showcases the essence of the real Audrey Hepburn, who cherished a life of relative privacy and modesty beneath the surface of the spectacular legend,” the paperback’s Google Books description reads.

There are several books written about Audrey, but his version, said Sean, is different because it “is really a spiritual biography.” 

“I wrote these 30 pages originally for my children after she died. We knew we couldn’t save her, but we used the wonderful time, months leading to her death,” Sean recalled. 

“We would sit the night in her room, she’s lying in bed. I’m sitting in a wicker chair next to her and we’re talking with the lights off. Very much when I was a little boy and she invites me for a sleep over, and we’re talking with the lights off. And so, there’s a lot of her philosophies and thoughts. Maybe it’s the beginning of the voice that gave birth to this exhibition, you know, very much in-line.”

While touring Philippine First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos around “Intimate Audrey,” Sean was seen pointing at some of the hundreds of family and personal photos in the exhibit. One photo showed his mom lounging in a couch with a furry dog. He then told Marcos how his mom would love to cook him spaghetti.

By the exhibit’s entrance is a small souvenir shop selling copies of Audrey’s photos from the family’s estate, as well as copies of “Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit,” which Sean started to write a day after the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” star succumbed to Appendiceal cancer.

Sean reminisced how at first, he did not plan to write a full book about his mom, until a Hollywood agent convinced him to do so.

“And here’s a friend, who inherited the Swifty Lazar agency. Swifty was kinda a legendary literary agent in Hollywood, said, ‘Really, you should do a good book.’ And I did. It was really difficult because taking it what was at best, maybe a Vanity Fair article, and turning it into a good book, is like taking a foulard and turning it into an evening dress, you know. But slowly, painting with a hairbrush, I did, and it’s a very whispered tone and so the work has sold over two million copies worldwide, which is a lot of books.”

The exhibition, said Sean, “is a wonderful reminder” how a person like Audrey “can be famous, permanently viral” and “beloved,” but still remain a “humble” and “loving actress, mother” and humanitarian.

“I don’t think it’s a question about lessons, because we were very close, and so everything I got every day," Sean explained when asked what was the biggest life lesson he learned from his mom. "But I think she gave me the most wonderful gift, which is the family culture, which I’m now passing on to my kids, which really is the culture of compassion.”

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