Who’s that girl? Tippi Hedren In Conversation

Tippi Hedren’s relationship with Alfred Hitchcock is part of Hollywood lore, and remains a favourite subject of the actor herself…

In 1964, Tippi Hedren starred alongside Sean Connery in Marnie, a film arguably saying as much about its director’s psyche as it does an emotionally troubled young woman. It would be the second appearance in an Alfred Hitchcock film made by Tippi Hedren, playing the Marnie of the title. It would also prove to be the last.

Two years earlier she had been spotted by Hitch in a TV commercial. Tall, thin and platinum blonde, the famed director was captivated by Hedren, and quickly made some enquiries. A (very) short time later, he decided to cast her in the lead in 1963’s iconic The Birds. In a recent interview with the BFI’s Adrian Wootton, Hedren recalled: “It was an amazing thing to have happened, to be plucked out of nowhere and put right into a major motion picture of such prominence. It was a great responsibility which I took seriously.”

The piece of serendipity which allowed Hitch a glimpse at his future star, and Hedren a way into the big time, would however lead to problems down the line, that with hindsight – she did after all closely fit the archetypal Hitchcock blonde profile – might have been foreseen. Hitchcock, now infamous for his liking of a very particular, shall we say, aesthetic in his leading ladies, had Hedren bound to a personal contract; in effect, he had ultimate say over her career prospects.

This contract, allied to an escalation in his infatuation and obsessive behaviour while shooting Marnie, lead to ‘a situation’ said Hedren, “which I couldn’t handle, and I said ‘I’ve got to get out of this’. He [Hitchcock] said ‘I’ll ruin your career’… and he did.”

Years later, and with Hitchcock still paying her a negligible wage, she came to find that he had rejected successive offers from various directors and producers looking to cast her, simply declaring she was unavailable. In so doing he had denied her unknown opportunities to build on her most promising newcomer Golden Globe, which she had won for her performance in The Birds.

Later this month, and as part of the BFI’s ‘Genius of Hitchock’ celebrations, Hedren will take to the stage (from the BFI, via live satellite link) to discuss her film career (which did, however modestly, eventually recover). In previous interviews and conversations, when it comes to Hitchcock, Hedren displays a refreshing candour. It is on this basis that one hopes and expects it will be fascinating – if not quite revelatory –  to hear her talk about her memories of shooting The Birds and Marnie.

It is also expected she will touch on her contribution to forthcoming film The Girl, a BBC production of this most fateful period in her career, which stars Toby Jones and Sienna Miller in the leads. We can’t wait.

Tippi Hedren in Conversation Thursday 16th August @ FACT

Posted on 06/08/2012 by thedoublenegative