It's been 50 years this week since Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird hit the big screen and the film remains as beloved as ever - not least by its star, Mary Badham.
Mary was just 10 years old when she took on the coming-of-age role of Scout, the book's irresistibly feisty heroine. With no prior acting experience, the production was to change her life forever.
When Stylist catches up with the actress, now aged 59, to mark the anniversary, it's clear the film is integral to her identity, creating childhood memories that she still cherishes.
"I have such fond memories. I had so much fun making that film. Everyone was so kind and so dear. I had no knowledge of films or movie stars or anything. It really was a whole new experience for me," she says.
She casually describes Harper Lee as "a sweetheart" and made lifelong friends of her fellow cast members, especially the late Gregory Peck whom she still refers to as "Atticus."
"He was lovely. So lovely. He really was Atticus. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between Atticus and Gregory Peck. He was that person. For me, I called him Atticus until the day he died because that’s who he was.
"I think what was really different was that my mum died three weeks after I graduated from high school. My dad died two years after I got married and I really felt cut loose and Atticus was still here, because he would make time to call and say, 'What ya doing kiddo?' and check on me and make sure everything was all right. And that was the great thing."
She says other members of the Mockingbird cast followed suit. "For them to take the time and pick up the phone and call me was just great. … they’re very much family to me."
Mary shares the same bond with Harper Lee, who famously won the Pulitzer Prize for her first and only novel: "Oh yes, Ms Lee and I are very close. Last year, I got to really spend time with her, which was just amazing it was beautiful."
However happy her experience of To Kill A Mockingbird, Mary is reluctant to revisit the film as it brings back too many memories.
"I don’t watch the film if I can help it because it’s too painful. Because everyone’s gone and I cry through the whole thing until the credits come up," she told Stylist. "The last time I saw it was at the AFI Awards, for Atticus – he’d won the AFI Award (in 2003, for greatest movie hero). And I sat with Brock Peters, who played Brock Peters, and we cried the whole way through."
Despite her lack of experience, Mary was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Scout ("I had no clue what it was about," she says of the honour) and wants the film to stay as it is forever.
"I wouldn’t want to see a new version of it, I want it to stay just the way it is. It’s perfect just the way it is," she says.
When black and white movies started being transformed into colour, "I phoned Atticus panicked, and said, 'I don’t want this to happen (to To Kill A Mockingbird).' And he said, 'Don’t worry, it won’t happen.'"
"We made it in black and white for a reason … the tension was so fraught, you would never get that in colour."
To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary’ and All Quiet on the Western Front are released on Blu-ray on February 13 from Universal Pictures UK as part of the Limited Edition Digibook Collector's Series celebrating Universal Pictures' 100th Anniversary
Picture credit: Rex Features