Hitchcock Director Sacha Gervasi Explains What Anvil And Mrs. Hitchcock Have In Common
How did you strike a balance between capturing the sense of Hitchcock films and then also expressing your own style?
Well, I was interested in telling the unknown story of Alfred and Alma principally. And also I was interested in showing aspects of Hitchcock's character which are contradictory like the darkness—he's mean to his wife over treatment, he's unspeakably cruel, he's out of control in the shower scene, he's driving Janet Leigh, he's really lascivious and funneling his personal shit into eliciting this performance [from her]. But then there's he's really sweet and funny and tender as well. I wanted to put it all together, and it doesn't sit well together in one sense, that's good to me because I like that it's sort of slightly uncomfortable because he was! Everyone whose seen this film recently who has worked with him, we've had so many people come up—like Diana Baker who was in Marnie--came up to me at a screening and she said—as did Marshall Schlom, the script supervisor on Psycho--they said, "For so long he's been portrayed in the very specific way. And finally this movie captures the mischief, the warmth, and the craziness of the man that I worked with every day." And that to me is the ultimate tribute from the people who knew and worked with him who felt that in one sense he's been cast. He's been cast in a certain way. And whether it's Anvil or Hitchcock, or whatever it is, I think it's important for some people to take the time to just peel away the layers a little. Look a bit deeper and realize that people are not that different. Even in terms of great artists, they may be in one sense cursed or blessed with great talent depending on how you look at it, but it's important I think for people to just recognize that pretty much everyone is a flawed contradictory human being. And that there are different measures of good and bad and what's wrong with that?
Part of it seems to be that your film makes quite plain that yes, he may have had all of these dark elements to him but clearly he had to have been charismatic to attract people the way he did.
Yeah, and also the stories you hear about the actresses, Janet Leigh, Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, yes, they had tough times shooting, and he was difficult and demanding. But they had a great relationship with him. He changed their lives and that's how they feel about it. I think it's important to have more of a balanced view and to avoid sensationalism. And I think it's very easy to [favor sensationalism] with Hitchcock because he was sensational.
What do you think Hitchcock would make of horror movies today?
I think he'd be absolutely pleased. I think you look at the Psycho scene in there, the way we see the blood in that scene and then you trace the lineage directly to the violence that you see in The Wild Bunch and Bonnie and Clyde, and that violence goes to Tarantino and that violence goes to Saw and Hostel. So there's a direct lineage, and I think he'd be rather pleased and proud and rather sickeningly satisfied. You know, because he enjoyed a joke, Hitchcock. He had a very dark, cold, ironic sense of humor. I think he would think it was fantastic. I think he would think here we are 52 years later still talking about [Psycho]. As far as he's concerned, mission accomplished, I think.
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