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Helen Mirren as Alma and Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock

Photo source: Fox Searchlight

James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins

Photo source: Fox Searchlight

Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh

Photo source: Fox Searchlight




by Tora Chung

October 16, 2012


Today, we all know Hitchcock’s Psycho as the iconic film that—with its shocking shower scene, heroine’s unexpected death, angel-faced psychopath, and dark humor—changed the suspense-horror genre forever. But in 1960, few thought the pulp novel upon which it was based was worthy of the auteur filmmaker’s talents. Neither the studios nor the audience were prepared for what would become the master’s most famous film.


Based on Stephen Rebello’s behind-the-scenes book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the new film simply titled Hitchcock centers on the relationship between Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma (Helen Mirren).



















The young Hitchcock met Alma while designing title cards for the studio that would later become Paramount Pictures. Though a respected continuity supervisor, screenwriter and editor, Alma is best known for her contributions to Hitchcock’s scripts during their 54 years of marriage. With her sharp eye for detail, she was both his most trusted advisor and harshest critic.


“It’s not about the making of Psycho as such,” revealed Hopkins, “but how Hitchcock felt such a failure all his life. He felt such a loser all his life. He had a very troubled relationship with everyone. A very complex man, a very private, quiet man. There are all these rumors about his life and his relationship with his wife…”
























Years ago, while assisting on the motion capture film Beowulf, I had the privilege of watching Hopkins at work. What I learned—other than that he takes 3 tea bags (yes, American tea is woefully weak for the famous Welshman)—was to respect the work but not take it all too seriously.


Famous for his level of preparation for a role, Hopkins will commit a script to memory so that he can “do it without thinking.” He gave me the impression of a person fully in control at all times, which I’ve since come to understand is—like films themselves—an illusion. Now, at the age of 74 and a film director himself (of the 2007 Slipstream), Hopkins takes a more philosophical approach to acting and to life. “We have no control. And I like making people irritable, because when you tell people you have no power, they go, ‘What?! I have power. Nobody told me I didn’t have anything.’ None of us have any power at all.”
























Hopkins’ worldview seems a far cry from Hitchcock’s seemingly controlled and singular vision. “The writer and I plan out the entire script down to the smallest detail,” explained Hitchcock, “and when we’re finished all that’s left to do is to shoot the film.” His vision was so clear, in fact, that he famously viewed actors not as collaborators but as just another piece of the puzzle. “Actors should be treated like cattle,” he once infamously commented. Yet, despite his reputation for disliking actors, his stars thrived under his direction and often gave career-defining performances, delivering some of the most romantic and beloved moments on film.
























Contradiction was a constant dynamic in Hitchcock’s work and life. While his films reveal what many critics have called ‘mommy issues’ and misogynistic tendencies played out on his heroine-victims, in reality, he was a devoted son and had the greatest respect for his wife Alma, whose opinion he took very much to heart.


Ultimately, this film is a love story between Hitchcock and Alma that was—like Hitchcock’s own films—full of humor and surprises.


The Fox Searchlight film is directed by Sacha Gervasi (Anvil! The Story of Anvil), and features Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins, and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles. Hitchcock will make its world premiere on November 1st as the Opening Night film of the AFI Film Festival, and will begin a limited U.S. theatrical release on November 23rd.



Originally posted on here.


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