James D'Arcy On Becoming The Boy Next Door Who Went Psycho In Hitchcock

By Kristy Puchko 2012-11-19 08:30:57discussion comments
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So you were playing Anthony Perkins, playing Norman Bates. Did you decide for yourself why Norman kills Marion?
No. I never did. Ha! No, I never did. (Laughs). I never contemplated that question at all! Bad actor.

In Hitchcock it seem that Perkins had some tough moments during the production of Psycho, did you find any evidence of that or is it more something that works for the movie?
What I found and was surprised to discover is that Hitchcock was very collaborative with him. I had thought that Hitchcock was much more dictatorial. An actor stands there. You do this; you do that. And from what I have understood, that wasn't the case and Tony Perkins had a lot of ideas that Hitchcock was very amenable to. Like the candy corns is Tony Perkins idea, just to name one small tiny detail. You know, a lot of what he did, I think was not Hitchcock telling him what to do, which is how I would imagine Hitchcock would direct.

Having now played Perkins, have you a new appreciation for him and his work?
Not a new appreciation. No, I appreciated him pretty well before this project came into my life to be honest. I don't know that I had a new appreciation. One of the things that's really great about Psycho is that you have to put it into context. You know, it's 1960 and audiences did not expect that that sweet boy next door would be a serial killer.

Much less killing off the protagonist.
That's right, killing off the protagonist so early in the movie! The thing with modern day audiences, we expect it to be the sweet good-looking kid next door. We're not quite as na´ve as 1960s audiences in that regard. So he had a lot of the work done for him simply on how he looked. He just looked like he couldn't possibly be the guy.

Which makes the final shot of him in Psycho so terrifying, just the close-up with the voiceover and that look in his eye.
Right, right and the flash of the skull.

Yeah! It's about the whole duality. It's terrifying to imagine that someone who seems so sweet could have that within them, and I think that Hitchcock plays so well with those dualities. Do you have a favorite Hitchcock film?
Well, that would probably be it. But let's honest, they're really all so good. I watched one at a cinema called the Aero in LA recently called Foreign Correspondent, which is a sort of 1940 second World War propaganda to be honest. Absolutely brilliant. Utterly brilliant. There's an airplane crash at the end of the film; it's as good as any plane crash I have ever watched.

I actually don't know that one, I'll have to look it up.
You'll have to go and see it. It's a really good movie. And that's one of the movies I'd never heard of!
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