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Hopkins Talks Playing 'Hitchcock,' Insecurities and the Dark and Feminine Sides of the Legendary Director

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood November 20, 2012 at 4:58PM

During his transcontinental satellite press conference, Anthony Hopkins revealed details on playing the titular role in Sasha Gervasi's "Hitchcock." Hopkins, who once met Alfred Hitchcock, talks about his insecurities playing the role, his excitement to work with a first time narrative feature director, human nature and Hitch's dark and feminine sides. Check out some highlights courtesy of Hollywood & Mine. Read our review of "Hitchcock" here.
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Hitchcock Anthony Hopkins

During his transcontinental satellite press conference, Anthony Hopkins revealed details on playing the titular role in Sasha Gervasi's "Hitchcock." Hopkins, who once met Alfred Hitchcock, talks about his insecurities playing the role, his excitement to work with a first time narrative feature director, human nature and Hitch's dark and feminine sides. Check out some highlights courtesy of Hollywood & Mine. Read our review of "Hitchcock" here.

On his insecurities:

My insecurities started after the film, because I wondered if it had gone okay. I caught a sight of myself on those preview playbacks on the camera. You know, where the director can watch the screen. I just saw one of that and I couldn’t see anymore, because I wasn’t sure that I’d got it right.  My insecurity was so deep that I just wanted to go and run away to Tierra del Fuego, or somewhere like that.

On the physical embodiment:

I knew I had to get the voice as close as possible and the look, the critical look that Howard Berger did in creating the face of Hitchcock. We had to be very careful about me not being covered in makeup, not vanishing behind it,..I lost a lot of weight to get into shape for the part because I didn’t want to put on weight.  So once it was all put together, I felt like Hitchcock,..The thing is to not do a Frank Gorshin or a Rich Little impersonation, brilliant as they are, because I think if it becomes pure mimicry, then something is somehow lost. It becomes inauthentic.  So my task, I suppose if you want to call it that, was to present a representation of what Hitchcock is like and hopefully produce his inner psyche as well.

The dark and feminine sides of Hitchcock:

He had a natural hunger for knowledge. He read voraciously, and I think he mentioned somewhere that he read Freud deeply. So he had a knowledge of human nature and the dark forces that are in every human being.

People are very fond of using the words ‘the dark side.’ I don’t think he had a dark side. He was complex, probably a very insecure man, felt like an outsider. The truth was he said, when he was never nominated for an Oscar, ‘Always the bridesmaid never the bride,’ and I think he must have felt deep down (though he was probably too polite or too remote to complain) it must have rankled him that he was never really taken that seriously by the commercial side of Hollywood, because he was a great moneymaker.

So when the red flag went up that he wanted to do this schlock horror movie called Psycho, they thought he was mad.  He probably thought he was mad too, but he mortgaged his house and put his life at risk really, his security at risk.  And it was because of Alma,..

But he was probably mystified, you know, that he wasn’t really accepted,..

So all in all, people talk about his dark side, well that’s probably…if you’re alive and human, you know, whatever his obsessions for these beautiful women were, it’s probably just a projection of his own artistic sense of … I mean, feminine side which Jung talks about, the anima or the animus which we all possess, and the feminine in men is the most creative side the anima, the feminine side.

This article is related to: Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins, Interviews, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.