That famous shower scene, a phone call to a heavy metal rocker, an untold love story: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and director Sacha Gervasi reveal how a new take on the master of suspense came together. Anthony Hopkins and the cast on the making of the film.
“Sacha [Gervasi] had the best take on what we needed from the movie that still wasn’t there yet — the emotionality between Alfred and Alma,” recalls Tom Pollock of Montecito Picture Co. The U.K.-born director also emphasized that while he wanted to bring humor to the movie, it had to be exactly the sort of dry, whimsical humor in which Alfred Hitchcock specialized.
On-Set Inside Joke
For a Psycho scene in which Scarlett Johansson appears as Janet Leigh driving to the Bates Motel, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth assembled the rear-projection setup the director would have used and then, as an inside joke, captures the director’s famous silhouette as Hopkins walks behind the screen.
Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh
Johansson was so eager to play Janet Leigh, says Gervasi, that when she came to meet him and Anthony Hopkins for an introductory cup of tea, she immediately launched into an impromptu rehearsal.
Martin Samuel, hair department head, readies Johansson for a scene as Leigh, playing Psycho’s Marion Crane.
Jessica Biel as 'Psycho' Actress Vera Miles
Julie Hewett, makeup department head, applies finishing touches on Jessica Biel as Psycho actress Vera Miles, who had fallen out of favor with Hitchcock, to whom she was under contract.
Successful Preview of 'Hitchcock'
“We had absolutely no time, so we had to make instinctual decisions and just go for it,” says Gervasi. “But I think in one sense it helped the film, giving it the energy it has.” Six months after shooting began, he previewed his director’s cut in La Jolla, Calif., and the preview went so well, Searchlight quickly decided to add the film to its 2012 release slate.
Hopkins and Gervasi Meet For Lunch
A lunch was set up at The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills to introduce Hopkins and Gervasi to each other. “He was so enthusiastic, that was the clincher,” says Hopkins. “I thought it was actually good that he hadn’t done another movie.” But what might have actually sealed the deal was that Hopkins confessed he’d seen Anvil three times. “How’s the band doing?” he asked. Why not ask Steve “Lips” Kudlow, the band’s lead singer, suggested Gervasi, who immediately rang him up, passing the phone to Hopkins. “To hear those two talking back and forth was an extraordinary, weirdly beautiful connection,” he attests.
Hitchcock's Favorite Restaurant Chasen's
Hopkins and Helen Mirren in the re-creation of Hitchcock's favorite restaurant, Chasen’s. “They spent huge amounts on food and wine,” says production designer Judy Becker of the real-life couple.
Gervasi and Mirren on Hitchcock's Personality
“Hitchcock wasn’t an English snob; he just played one on TV," notes Gervasi. And while he and Alma often directed barbed zingers at each other, there was a playfulness there as well, says Mirren, contending: “I noticed in the photographs, she’s always laughing. I think Hitchcock cracked Alma up, and I think that was very real.”
Makeup artist Howard Berger completing the 90-minute process required to turn Hopkins into Hitchcock each day. Although he didn’t remain in character between takes, Hopkins enjoyed sneaking up behind visitors on the set, tapping them on the shoulder and startling them by delivering Hitchcock’s trademark greeting, “Good evening.”
'The Horseshoe' Design
Berger at first created a prosthetic that copied Hitchcock’s face down to the smallest details but decided “you lost Tony in it.” So he refined the design until it consisted of what he called “the horseshoe,” a large appliance that gave the actor jowls, augmented with smaller silicone pieces attached to his nose and earlobes.
Wearing a Fat Suit
Hitchcock “was known for his black suits, but that doesn’t mean he wore a black suit every day,” says costume designer Julie Weiss, who added to the director’s signature look by devising a lightweight fat suit. “She was brilliant, the Stanislavski of designers,”says Hopkins. “It made it all very easy for me. When I put it on, the weight and shape of it would throw off my center of balance, so I would have to lean back slightly, just like Hitch.”
Hitchcock's Hollywood Persona
Born the son of a greengrocer, Hitchcock “was a good old London cockney,” says Hopkins. “But when he went to Hollywood, he developed a persona. The way he would over-enunciate his words — I think to Americans he sounded very posh. But when he and Alma are together, he drops all that a bit.”