Hays’d: Decoding the Classics — ‘Laura’
In the 1942 book of the same name on which Laura is based, Waldo Lydecker was an obese, effete writer based on noted wit and raging cunt Alexander Woollcott. Preminger found Lydecker to be the most interesting character and expanded his role for the film. He had Webb in mind for the role, even though the 55-year-old thesp hadn’t made a film in some 15 years and had retreated to the resounding applause of the stage. 20th Century Fox head Daryl F. Zanuck preferred Laird Cregar, known for his villainous roles, but Preminger argued that Cregar would draw suspicion too early.
Zanuck was unconvinced and felt that Webb was too effeminate for the role. “He doesn’t walk, he flies!” the head of casting told Zanuck.