London: ‘The Birds` star Tippi Hedren has revealed that Alfred Hitchcock had become dangerously obsessed with her during his 40-year career. She also claims that Hitchcock’s blondes lived in fear of the ‘sadistic’ director. Hedren, a former model, was then 34 and more than 30 years his junior, a leading daily has reported. She had a six-year-old daughter — now the movie star Melanie Griffith — and was about to get married to a second husband, her agent Noel Marshall.
But Hitchcock, despite knowing this, had become fixated with Hedren. He had started to bombard her with crude sexual overtures, and had cruelly wanted to control every aspect of her life, off the screen as well as on it. After their second film together — the psychological thriller Marnie, in which she starred opposite Sean Connery — Hedren was nominated for the Photoplay Award as the most promising new actress of the year. She sought Hitchcock’s consent to travel to New York to appear on The Tonight Show, where the award was to be presented. But Hitchcock could not stand the prospect of her departure, even for two days.
He abruptly denied permission for her to go, telephoning the network on her behalf to reject the award and cancel her appearance. For two years, Hedren had sealed an iron self-control in her dealings with the director, refusing ever to rise to his sexual advances. But that day, unable to control herself any longer, all the confined emotion poured forth as she exploded, screaming at Hitchcock and allegedly calling him ‘a fat pig’ in front of the assembled crew on the set. Hitchcock froze.
“She did what no one is permitted to do,” he complained bitterly. “She referred to my weight.”
Livid, Hedren demanded to be released from her exclusive contract with Hitchcock. This shocking tale will now be the subject of a 90-minute BBC2 television drama, The Girl, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock, with Imelda Staunton as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, and Penelope Wilton as his loyal assistant, Peggy Robertson. Hedren, now 82, is the artistic adviser on the film. Her ‘one reservation’, she insisted, ‘is that I worry they will not portray me as strong a character as I was — and still am. I had to be extremely strong to fight off Hitchcock.
“He was so insistent and obsessive, but I was an extremely strong young woman, and there was no way he was going to get the better of me,” she added.