When they’re in a biopic, many actors debate whether or not to meet the person they are playing. But you met with Tippi Hedren before filming.
For me, just to have the opportunity to meet the person you were going to play was completely invaluable, purely from the point of view of the respect owed to her: I wanted to get her right. And I wanted to make sure if there was something specific she wanted me to inject into the performance, or if there was something that she didn’t want to be in the film that I could support her in that. It’s her story and her life and she’s an incredible woman. If someone was not supportive of you doing a film about them you wouldn’t want to spend much time around them, but with Tippi it was the other way around and I’m really glad I did.
Was there something specific she imparted to you that influenced your performance?
She did. She talked about the moral code that she had been raised with and that she never wavered from that core, and that, really, the root of her personality was this morality that caused her to behave the way she did. And it was not reacting to Hitchcock that made her more of an obsession, if that makes sense. And my whole performance kind of came from that one statement.
Did you know much about this story before?
I knew nothing about it. I’d seen ‘The Birds’ and ‘Marnie’ and I know from watching his films that there was an element of misogyny so I imagined there was definitely a dark side. But I had no idea about this story.
Have you ever experienced a similar actor-director relationship?
It can be a really intense relationship. Some actors kind of fight the director. For me, I feel like I am very much a kind of a vessel: It’s their ship and you are the crew. You have to trust and respect and do whatever you can for the director. And as a result it’s an intense dynamic because your job is to create what’s in their mind. But I’ve never been bullied in this way or preyed upon sexually. I’ve been fortunate, and I think the world has changed. In the ‘60s you needed the support of men to have a career and nowadays it’s not the same world.
There’s a great line in the film where you say “You took a living breathing woman and you turned her into a statue.”
That was a fun one to say. It was one of those perfect lines. It’s her moment to reclaim her strength.