Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Do You Re-Direct a Great Director?

In the new movie “Hitchcock,” actor Anthony Hopkins plays director Alfred Hitchcock during the tumutous period of his life when he put his fortune and reputation on the line to make the film “Psycho.” The movie, based on Stephen Rebello’s book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” also explores his marriage with Alma Reville, played by Helen Mirren, who is the unsung hero in her husband’s  success.

Director Sacha Gervasi, who directed “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” a documentary about a Canadian heavy metal band, says “Hitchcock” is more than just a movie about Psycho, it’s about ambition, love, rejection and failure.

“This story spoke to me in several different ways. It spoke to me about an artist whose feeling old, who feels like he has to risk everything to feel young, relevant and alive again,” Gervasi said in an interview with Speakeasy.

“I didn’t know that Alfred Hitchcock has such a tough time getting ‘Psycho’ made. It was impossible for him,” he said.

“Hitchcock” is Gervasi’s first narrative film and he spoke to us about his experience directing a major motion picture, the importance of “Psycho” and exploring Hitchcock’s complexity as a director and  as a man.

“Hitchcock” is your first narrative film. Was it an intimidating process especially directing actors like Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren?

Sacha Gervasi: I grew up in England watching them on film and stage, so I knew them well. As a first time film director, I think I will be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly intimidated.  I was really attracted to the emotional story. I was attracted to the story about Hitchcock risking everything he had to make this crazy movie Psycho and the woman who probably thought it was nuts , but stood by him anyway. I was really focused on the story and I think the actors were too.

There was a moment where I was (like): “Oh my gosh I’m directing these legendary icons.” And then you have a job to do and then you don’ t have that much time to do it in, so you can’t spend that much time worrying about it.

Is this film equally about Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville?

Absolutely. In one sense it’s Alma’s story. But, it’s also a character study of Hitchcock. I think for so long he’s been seen in very extreme, almost sensationalist ways as this sort of evil monster or this cinematic deity. I think when you look at the man and who he is, he‘s so complicated, rich and fascinating. To me, it actually deepens the work. You can tell he’s working his stuff out.

The film doesn’t …shy away from (his) darkness, it’s in there, the meanness to actresses, his cruelty, his madness… his obsessiveness.But, there’s tenderness and humanity in there too. I think there’s something universal about that and not having a judgment about it.

What is the one thing that surprised you about Hitchcock in making this movie?

How much foie gras..he ate. He would have the foie gras flown in from Paris….and it was a massive ordeal to get it there. He consumed a lot of wine, cigars, fine foods and his delicatessen bills were thousands (of dollars) a month and this is 1959.

Why was Psycho so important and controversial in 1960?

In a certain sense this movie lands …as America’s shifting . It resonates as a film because there’s real darkness to it. It was a shock to the system.

What was Hitchcock’s legacy?

I think what he gave is… what it means to be a really prodigious, dynamic and original filmmaker who can work across all types of genres and always entertain an audience .

What’s your next project?

I don’t know yet. I wish I did, do you got anything?

Pete Travis Annalise Braakensiek

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