By early December 1938, the Hollywood producer of Gone With the Wind, David O. Selznick, had a very big problem: having already shelled out $50,000 for the movie rights for Margaret Mitchell's novel, interviewing 1400 women, listening to some 400 readings of the blockbuster script plus screen-testing 90 actresses at a cost of over $100,000, Selznick still had not found the right actress to play Scarlett O'Hara, Mitchell's unforgettable heroine. Selznick did the exact opposite of what any sane, reasonable producer would do: he made plans to begin filming the epic movie immediately--and he wanted to start with the most difficult and dangerous scene, the burning of Atlanta. Using stunt doubles for the main characters and the old set for his previous movie, King Kong, on 10 December 1938, with the lead female still not found and against all advice, Selznick began production of Gone With the Wind with the simple strike of a match.
Selznick's search for Scarlett had sparked the biggest casting call in the history of cinema. He had bagged his leading men, Clark Gable ("Rhett Butler") and Leslie Howard ("Ashley Wilkes") without too much trouble. Olivia DeHavilland ("Melanie Wilkes") accepted her role shortly after her sister, Joan Fontaine rejected it by sarcastically saying, "Give it to my sister, it's perfect for her. Pent Shed Leigh " (The two had one of the bitterest sibling feuds in Hollywood). As Selznick watched the inferno that would eventually become the backdrop of the movie's most memorable image, he must have been consumed with raging self doubt coupled with deep disappointment that he may eventually have to use an actress he knew would be less than perfect. Suddenly, there was a tap on his shoulder. Annoyed, Selznick turned. It was his brother Myron, a casting agent. Next to Myron stood Laurence Olivier. Next to Olivier was Olivier's girlfriend, the British actress Vivien Leigh. Selznick had rejected Leigh as Scarlett the year before because he felt an unknown American actress should play Scarlett. But this time, the fire of Atlanta glowed on Leigh's flawless skin and reflected in her eyes--to Selznick, she looked as if lit from within and she seemed to ooze with sparkling passion. "David," said Myron, "Meet Scarlett O'Hara."
Within a month, Vivien Leigh had perfected a deep Southern accent and had proven she could act the part of such a feisty, spoiled, passionate woman. "Vivien Leigh is Scarlett O'Hara," sighed a satisfied Margaret Mitchell after the film's premiere in Atlanta the following year. It is a sentiment echoed by millions of viewers who simply cannot imagine anyone other than Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara even though Katherine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Susan Hayward, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Bette Davis and Lana Turner all auditioned for the part and all, at different times, were leading contenders in the search for Scarlett. Like Selznick (who had purchased the movie rights for Gone With the Wind before the book was available to the public), Leigh herself knew that the movie would embed itself in American culture and cinema history. Already a fan of the novel, it seems Leigh also knew she was destined to play Scarlett: One evening a few years before she would be cast, she was standing next to her well known lover Olivier, and listened as friends insisted that "Larry" would make a great Rhett Butler. "Oh Larry won't be Rhett Butler," she told their friends, "But I will be Scarlett O'Hara, just wait and see."
Vivien Leigh was born in Darjeeling India on 5 November 1913. Appropriate for a beauty, she has Taurus on the ascendant with the chart ruler in the sign of its dignity, Libra, and occupying her sixth house. With the Sun conjunct her descendant in Scorpio, it is easy to understand how she would want to attract such a powerful man as Laurence Olivier. Yet Leigh was adamant that though she loved Olivier, she did not want to marry him until she established herself in her own right as an actress. As she filmed the movie, Uranus passed over her ascendant. After winning an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1940 (and when the divorce papers from her first marriage were complete), Leigh married Olivier. The role of Scarlett had completely altered Leigh's life and like Margaret Mitchell, she was never really able to find peace ever again in her life once fans worked out how to contact her.
Mitchell and Leigh had much in common and it was even said that Leigh looked like a younger Mitchell. Although born 13 years apart, their suns are only a few degrees apart with Mitchell's Sun only a few minutes from Leigh's descendant. They had similar placements for Mercury and Venus so astrologically it isn't too difficult to appreciate these two women understood each other and had similar values. In fact, Mitchell declined to give Leigh advice on how to portray Scarlett, preferring to trust the actress' interpretation. As Scarlett O'Hara was recently voted the most memorable female character in cinema, it seems Mitchell was right to trust her instincts.
It's quite possible that Scarlett would not have been nearly as interesting without her perfect foil, the dashing Captain Rhett Butler. Although Clark Gable didn't win an Academy Award for his portrayal, his line "Frankly my dear, I just don't give a damn," is one of the most instantly recognisable ever uttered in a movie. Costing MGM Studios a hefty fine for breeching obscenity laws, Selznick knew it would be worth it.
Gable--like many men--was not impressed with "Gone With the Wind." Neither was Leslie Howard who simply didn't want the role of Ashley Wilkes because he feared being typecast. And both of these men portrayed characters who were, to different degrees, the objects of Scarlett's affection.
Since both Leigh and Gable were involved in relationships with other people and the romance of their characters was imperative to the storyline of the movie, they must have felt the pressure to walk a very fine line between fantasy and reality. There can be little doubt that their on-screen relationship was anything but convincing. In reality, Leigh hated kissing Gable because of his excessively bad breath (Leigh may have been a little tetchy because although she worked twice as many days as he did, she was only paid one-fifth of his salary). In one scene, Gable had to carry Leigh up a long flight of stairs--a scene that had to be filmed several times. "One more time, Clark," called director Victor Fleming. Wincing, Gable picked up Leigh and carried her up the stairs. "Thanks Clark," said Fleming. "We didn't really need that shot. We just had a little bet that you couldn't do it again." Long hours of work plus long bouts away from their respective partners meant that filming was far from easy for the pair. And yet, they pulled off the greatest romance of cinema, a feat aided by Gable's Sun on Leigh's Moon and Leigh's Mars opposite to Gable's Venus. True teamwork is also shown with Gable's Jupiter on Leigh's Saturn--in the eighth house, no less: she held his confidence in check, he helped her to open up.
As noted in Gone With the Wind: The Zodiacal Parade# Mitchell used the zodiac as a basis for her characters with the feisty, independent heroine Scarlett O'Hara personifying the sign of Aries. Unfortunately, Mitchell did not leave a trail of dates and times of birth to use as clues for constructing natal charts. In fact, the only clue was that Scarlett was sixteen years old at the start of the Civil War (which meant she would have been born in 1845). And, no matter how real she might seem, Scarlett is a fictional character and therefore, does not have a birth chart. However, Scarlett's phenomenal success was due to a blend of author's invention and actress' interpretation. Could Scarlett's birth chart be the Mitchell/Leigh composite chart? And could this composite chart reflect the personality of Scarlett O'Hara herself?