From Fay Wray to Brie Larson: King Kong's Leading Ladies

10:00 AM 3/9/2017

by Arlene Washington

With 'Kong: Skull Island' set for a March 10 release, THR takes a look at six of the women featured in the movies featured the overgrown beast.

  • Fay Wray

    'King Kong' (1933)

    RKO Radio Pictures

    Wray was the first to be terrorized by King Kong when she portrayed Anne Durrow in the 1933 film. Wray's character is offered by tribal natives as a sacrifice to King Kong, who becomes attracted to her. Wray, however, was filming a project in England when the finale needed to be reshot. Actress Pauline Wagner donned a wig at the last minute to shoot the scene where Kong grabs Ann Darrow as he climbs atop the New York skyscraper.

  • Linda Miller

    'King Kong Escapes' (1967)

    Screengrab

    Miller starred as Lt. Susan Watson in the Japanese film, featuring a King Kong vs. dinosaur battle (Kong saves her from the Gorasaurus monster). Miller's voice, however, didn't translate to the American version, and the actress told the Richmond-Times Dispatch that it was "awful" that she wasn't able to re-dub her lines. "The only place my voice is in the movie is whenever there is a scream."

  • Jessica Lange

    'King Kong' (1976)

    Photofest

    King Kong marked Lange's film debut as Dawn, who finds herself in the palm of the monster's hand after being shipwrecked on Skull Island. THR's critic Leslie Felperin said that Lange brought sensuality, empathy and comic timing to her role as the lady kidnapped by Kong. Lange, who was a fashion model at the time, reportedly beat out Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn for the role.

     

  • Linda Hamilton

    'King Kong Lives' (1986)

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Unlike Fay Wray and Jessica Lange, Hamilton is untouched by Kong in King Kong Lives. “If my character had been Kong’s victim, I wouldn’t have taken the role,” Hamilton told People back in 1987. “I’m tired of playing the victim.” Hamilton went on to star in Terminator 2 and the TV series Beauty and the Beast.

  • Naomi Watts

    'King Kong' (2006)

    Photofest

    Watts, who starred alongside Jack Black and Adrien Brody, reprised the character of Ann Darrow, who this time begins to fall for King Kong. Watt's character was part of a film crew heading to the island to shoot their next picture, with Black playing the director in the group.

    Watts said it was difficult to work for months with all of the CGI that went into the film including the portrayal of King Kong. She expressed to THR how physically demanding it was to be constantly thrown around by people in green leotards and joked that after the film she vowed to "never do something that physical again."

  • Brie Larson

    'Kong Skull: Island' (2017)

    Larson stars as combat photographer Mason Weaver, who is a part of a group of scientists and soldiers seeking out the mysterious island. Director John Vorgt-Roberts told THR he chose Larson because she "weaves and slaloms between comedy and drama in a seamless way." Larson, however, is keeping mum on her character, who ditched wearing the signature Kong leading lady dress for pants and a top. Larson only told THR, "She's a woman."

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