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'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind': Natalie's transformation from pigtails star to sexual rebel

The actress resented that she had been robbed of a normal childhood and her rebelliousness bled into her social and professional life
Natalie Wood (HBO)
Natalie Wood (HBO)

HBO's new documentary about Natalie Wood titled 'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind' is a retelling of the late actress life through candid details from her daughter and close friends that spent time with her.

Wood kickstarted her career at the tender age of four, under her ambitious mother's watchful eyes. Her mother, Maria, who had practically projected her unachieved dreams onto her daughter, drove Wood to become the family's breadwinner through her many acting stints.

So for years, even after she had established herself as a child-artiste with a full-time studio contract in her hands, her mother had her wrapped around her finger.

Natalie Wood as a child actress (HBO)

Maria, whose intention could have only been to climb up the social ladder, would willingly trade her daughter's well-being for the sake of stardom, as it seemed. So by the time she was 16, the actress had officially powered through and broken out of her mother's control.

This was a rebel on the rise and went from donning frilly frocks and pig-tails to tapping into her sexual prowess. The actress resented that she had been robbed of a normal childhood and her rebelliousness bled into her social and professional life — and it seemed that it had been handed to her on a silver platter.

When she learned of an opening for the role of the lead actress in the James Dean starter 'Rebel Without a Cause', she jumped at the opportunity and immediately auditioned to play the character, Julie.

The film centered around the theme of teenage alienation and the teen-actress felt a real connection with Julie because the character mirrored the situations from her real life.

Wood yearned to become a "real" actress and artiste, and playing the part of Dean's frightened and lonely girlfriend in the film gave her an edge of sexuality and vulnerability which appealed to the viewers.

Natalie Wood, James Dean and Nicholas Ray on the set of 'Rebel Without a Cause' (HBO)

At age 15, Wood had a "serious friendship" with Frank Sinatra, and at 16 she was sexually involved with Nicholas Ray, the 43-year-old director of 'Rebel Without a Cause'. She also reportedly slept with her co-star Dennis Hopper, according to Suzanne Finstad, her biographer.

She willingly dived headfirst into this aspect of her life as she was attempting to rehabilitate herself as a teen-rebel and also gain respect as a reputable actress whilst flaunting her new-found sexual propriety.

Wood had transformed from a naive young girl that obliged by her mother's wishes to an independent and incredibly talented woman driven by her sexual rebelliousness. 'Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind' premiered on May 5 at 9 pm on HBO Max.