The TCA sneak peek for HBO's upcoming film "The Girl" could make anyone squirm. Alfred Hitchcock, played by Toby Jones, is seen groping Tippi Hedren, played by Sienna Miller, in the back of a car. He makes lewd, suggestive comments to her, and says she should make herself "sexually available" to him. He forces her to endure take after take for his famed film "The Birds." Sienna Miller's Tippi Hedren, worn down and injured from birds, unravels before your eyes.
And then, the lights come back on at HBO's TCA tour and Tippi Hedren herself takes the stage with a big, fake crow, playfully pecking Toby Jones on his head as they are seated on stage for the panel for "The Girl." The first question launched at the veteran actress led to a response that took the edge off the preview entirely.
"With 'The Girl,' the film," said Hedren, "in an hour and a half there wasn't enough time to give an example of what other experiences were in existence during the Hitchcock-Hedren years. There were times when it was absolutely delightful and wonderful."
An odd way to kick off a panel devoted to a film that detailed the perverse obsession Hitchcock had with one of his famous leading blond ladies. But, Hedren approached each question with a level of candidness about her experience with the helmer that gives more insight to her relationship with Hitchcock than the film may offer.
"He was my acting coach," remarked Hedren. "I hadn't had any acting experience except in commercials...I wasn't afraid of cameras or being on set, but to break down a script, to delve into how you become another character...it was something I didn't know how to do, and of course it was perfect to have someone as brilliant a genius as Alfred to be my drama coach."
"There were times of delight and joy," Hedren explained to the press. "It wasn't a constant barragement of harassment to me. That is the fault of any film, it can't possibly have everything in it."
The thesp noted, however, that if the harassment had been that expansive, she "would have been long gone" from Hitchcock.
Hedren does hope, though, that "The Girl" serves as a cautionary tale to young actresses. "I hope that young women who see this film know they do not have to acquiesce to anything that they do not feel is morally right, or that they feel dissatisfied with simply wanting to get out of a situation. I hope they understand that you can have that strength and you deserve it."
As for where Hedren stands now in relation to the late director, Hitchcock's assistant once told Hedren, "He would have these kind of feelings for his leading ladies, but he never got over you." Hedren told the press, "I don't know if that was supposed to be a compliment...but really, I don't care."