Immediately after filming wrapped on The Nun’s Story, Hepburn flew to Hollywood with husband Mel Ferrer to begin work for the first time together as director and star on Mel’s pet project Green Mansions. The tragic romance, based on the utopian novel by W.H. Hudson, followed Hepburn’s Tarzan-like bird girl Rima, a jungle goddess who falls in love with a Venezuelan adventurer played by Anthony Perkins, nursing him back to health from a poisonous snake bite. Mel spent several months filming background exteriors in Venezuala and British Guiana while Audrey was finishing The Nun’s Story, but the rest of the production was filmed on an MGM lot, where 25 acres were converted into an Indian village.
As the story called for a fawn to follow Rima everywhere, Audrey adopted a four week old fawn and raised it as her baby, bottle feeding it every two hours and naming it ‘Ip’ after the Ip Ip noises it made when hungry. Mel told Good Housekeeping magazine For two and a half months it lived in our house... It got so it actually thought Audrey was its mother; professional animal trainers were amazed at the way it followed her around. Photographer Bob Willoughby captured the relationship between Audrey and Ip both on and off set, the fawn even following her to the supermarket in Beverly Hills, writing It was truly amazing to see Audrey with that fawn.
With Mel at the directorial helm, Hepburn felt free and uninhibited in her love scenes with co-star Perkins and introduced the world to a new, sexier Audrey. Released before The Nun’s Story, the film was notable as one of the first to utilise Panavision for its lush widescreen visuals, however it was not well received, did not recoup its $3 million budget at the box office and spelled the end of Mel’s directorial career