Holly Golightly wears the same dresses all the way through the movie, simply changing the accessories to give each outfit a different look. Her black shift dress features through the movie at least four times.
At a post-production meeting following a screening of the film, a studio executive, in reference to "Moon River," said, "Well, I think the first thing we can do is get rid of that stupid song." Audrey Hepburn stood up at the table and said, "Over my dead body!" The song stayed in the picture.
Although not visible on camera, hundreds of onlookers watched Audrey Hepburn's window-shopping scene at the start of the film. This made her nervous and she kept making mistakes. It wasn't until a crew member nearly got electrocuted behind the camera that she pulled herself together and finished the scene.
Author Truman Capote envisioned Marilyn Monroe in the part of Holly Golightly. Monroe was originally cast as Golightly, but her drama coach, Lee Strasberg, told her that playing a call-girl was not good for her image. The film went on to be a huge success, with Monroe's replacement Audrey Hepburn receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress.
The famous black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the opening scenes of this movie was sold for $807,000 on December 4, 2006 at Christie's Auction House in London, making it the second most expensive piece of movie memorabilia ever sold. The first is the Best Picture Oscar for Gone with the Wind (1939).
Elements of Holly's character in the original novel, such as her flirtation with bisexuality, were omitted in deference to the times, and to make the part more suitable for Audrey Hepburn. Notably however she still accompanies a visibly bored Paul to a strip club.
For the scene in which Holly throws a wild party in her apartment, Blake Edwards wanted to capture the free-wheeling lifestyle of Holly and her New York friends, using an intricate series of visual gags. Edwards ordered up cases of real champagne and let the bubbly flow among the actors, allowing everyone to contribute ideas of outrageous behaviour.
Director Blake Edwards was lunching with Mickey Rooney at a posh Hollywood restaurant when Rooney objected to how his salad was being tossed by the waiter and proceeded to show the 'proper' way to do it. Edwards thought Rooney's attention-getting routine so funny that he wrote it into the movie.
Although it's never explained why Holly is wearing a bed sheet at her cocktail party, an earlier scene (cut before release) established she'd been taking a bath and had to improvise a gown on the spur of moment. The cut scene was featured in Life magazine pictorial shortly before film was released.
The uncredited voice of the "terrifying man" tearing up Holly's apartment is actually George Peppard, who years later used his voice talents as a hallmark of his master-of-disguise character on The A-Team (1983), where he always did his own alternate voices rather than having a dub double.
Tony Curtis stated in his 2008 autobiography that he asked his friend, director Blake Edwards, to cast him in the role of writer Paul Varjak. However, Mel Ferrer didn't want his wife, Audrey Hepburn, to make a movie with Curtis, so Edwards didn't cast him.
After seeing Buddy Ebsen in his country role in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) wanted him to play family patriarch Jed Clampett. At the time, Ebsen was thinking of retiring, but the producers sent him a copy of the script, and he changed his mind.
The very first scene filmed was the opening shot of Holly munching on a pastry in front of Tiffany's in an evening gown. The scene took place in front of the actual Tiffany's on 5th Avenue in Manhattan early on a Sunday morning. Tiffany's was extremely cooperative during the filming and allowed the crew unprecedented access to film its interiors.
John Frankenheimer was hired to shoot the film with Marilyn Monroe. When the producers suddenly moved to Switzerland and Audrey Hepburn replaced Monroe, she said she had never heard of Frankenheimer and insisted that he be paid off and another director be hired. Frankenheomer's sudden freedom resulted in his directing The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
In the novel, the narrator describes how Holly would wash her hair, and then sit out on the fire escape strumming her guitar while waiting for it to dry. In the "Moon River" scene, that is why she has a kerchief around her head.
In the film's original trailer (included on the special edition DVD), the announcer mistakenly pronounces Truman Capote's last name as "Capot", without pronouncing the "e" at the end of his name. This mistake was repeated (on purpose) on The Mary Tyler Moore (1970) Show - Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) is demanding better writers and he says they should get "that Truman Capot fellow". Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) tries to correct him by saying just "E". Ted then says "oh yeah, Truman E. Capot."
Not surprisingly considering his intensity, George Peppard didn't make many friends on the set. He and Blake Edwards locked horns many times throughout the filming, almost coming to blows on at least one occasion. No matter what kind of direction he was given, Peppard would end up playing the scene as he thought it should be played, which didn't endear him to anyone. Even Patricia Neal, with whom Peppard had been friendly in the past, noticed a change in the actor -- and not for the better. Peppard, she felt, had been "spoiled." Peppard felt from the outset that Neal's character was too dominant. "He wanted things as he wanted them," she later said of Peppard. "I dominated him a lot more in the script and he didn't want to be seen in that condition... His character was written with a battered vulnerability that was totally appealing, but it did not correspond to George's image of a leading man. He seemed to want to be an old-time movie hunk."
Henry Mancini found his greatest inspiration in Audrey Hepburn. He said, "It's unique for a composer to really be inspired by a person, a face or a personality, but Audrey certainly inspires me. Normally, I have to see a completed film before I'll compose the music, but with Tiffany I knew what to write for Audrey just by reading the script."
It was Blake Edwards who brought Henry Mancini into the project, after Mancini had scored a hit with the theme from Peter Gunn (1958), though the producers were initially keen on a Broadway composer to fit the New York City milieu of the film. Mancini brought in Johnny Mercer as his lyricist, and so "Moon River" was born. Early titles for the song included "I'm Holly" and "Blue River".
Audrey Hepburn supposedly exclaimed "over my dead body" when it was suggested that "Moon River" be removed from the film. However, there's an alternative recollection of this event. On the DVD of "Breakfast at Tiffany's Anniversary Edition," co-producer Richard Shepherd says in his commentary that after a premiere in San Francisco, Paramount's Head of Production desired to have "Moon River" removed from the film but co-producer Martin Jurow "and I both said 'over our dead bodies.'"
In his audio commentary for the DVD release, producer Richard Shepherd said that, at the time of production as well as in retrospect, he wanted to recast Mickey Rooney "not because he [Rooney] didn't play the part well" but because Shepherd thought the part of Mr. Yunioshi should be performed by an actor of Japanese ethnicity. It was Blake Edwards' decision to keep Rooney. In a "making-of" for the 45th anniversary edition DVD release, Shepherd repeatedly apologizes, saying, "If we could just change Mickey Rooney, I'd be thrilled with the movie." Edwards stated, "Looking back, I wish I had never done it... and I would give anything to be able to recast it, but it's there, and onward and upward."
In a 2008 interview about the film, Mickey Rooney said he was heartbroken about the criticism he received for his role: "Blake Edwards... wanted me to do it because he was a comedy director. They hired me to do this overboard, and we had fun doing it.... Never in all the more than 40 years after we made it -- not one complaint. Every place I've gone in the world people say, 'God, you were so funny.' Asians and Chinese come up to me and say, 'Mickey you were out of this world.'" Rooney also said that if he'd known people would be so offended, "I wouldn't have done it. Those that didn't like it, I forgive them and God bless America, God bless the universe, God bless Japanese, Chinese, Indians, all of them and let's have peace."
For his portrayal of I.Y. Yunioshi, Mickey Rooney wore makeup and a prosthetic mouthpiece to change his features to a caricatured approximation of a Japanese person. Since the 1990s, his portrayal has been subject to increasing protest by Asian-Americans, among others.
Contrary to popular belief, the movie follows Truman Capote's original novel quite closely. The character of Mag Wildwood, the Amazon-like model who crashes Holly's party in the film, is a major character in the novel. Capote describes her as having a stutter. In the film, Mag does indeed stutter though this isn't explained. During the shoplifting sequence, Holly briefly dons a The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958) mask, mirroring the line "my Huckleberry friend" in her song, "Moon River." Although Audrey Hepburn's performance of "Moon River" is unsurpassed, it would not be officially released until after her death. Holly's "bad date" prior to her first visit to Paul's apartment is only heard behind a door. The man who provides this voice is uncredited, but he sounds a lot like Mel Blanc, who at the time was working with film co-star Alan Reed on The Flintstones (1960).
Holly's real name is Lullamae, which means "Famous Warrior born in the Month of May". The name she chooses for herself is Holiday, Holiday meaning "Born on a Holy Day". In real life, Audrey Hepburn's birthday happens to be May 4th.
The film's song, "Moon River," was to be called "Blue River" until lyricist Johnny Mercer remembered that there had already been an earlier song by that name written by a friend of his. So as not to alter the meter of his lyrics, he substituted "moon" for "blue," though he later regretted not replacing the adjective in the passage "my huckleberry friend" with one more relevant (deep blue-hued huckleberries being appropriately descriptive of a Blue River, but not a Moon River).
Several exterior scenes had to be reshot after the processing lab accidentally damaged one of the film reels. Cinematographer Franz Planer was no longer available for the reshoots however, and Blake Edwards brought in Philip H. Lathrop to take his place.
The location shots for the exterior of the apartment building where Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak reside is 167 East 71st Street, between Third & Lexington Avenues in Manhattan. The building is unchanged as of 2016. Look for it on the TCM On Location Tours in NYC.
Emily "2E" Eustace does not appear in the source novella. The subplot of Paul serving as 2E's "kept man" was apparently added to the movie to establish the heterosexual credentials of George Peppard's character. This then allowed for the movie's boy-gets-girl climax, something also not found in the novella. It also gave Peppard a chance to appear bare-chested in a bedroom setting, the very best "beefcake" scene in his entire movie career.