NEW YORK – In the 1950’s and early ’60s, Alma Reville was a creative power unbeknownst to the moviegoing public. The wife of acclaimed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, Reville was an accomplished screenwriter, defacto producer and editor who was responsible for much of her husband’s success. While some may question a number of the more salacious storylines in Sacha Gervasi’s new drama “Hitchcock,” no one will complain that the film is finally giving Reville her long awaited due.
Oscar winner Helen Mirren plays Reville with wit and aplomb, but she also has something in common with her character as they are both married to successful movie directors. In Mirren’s case, she has been married to fellow Oscar winner Taylor Hackford (“Ray,” “An Officer and A Gentleman”) since 1997. Sitting down to discuss “Hitchcock” in New York last weekend, I asked Mirren if she could relate to that aspect of Reville’s relationship with Hitchcock.
“The side I could relate to was the side of being pushed aside at parties because people want to get to your husband. And being unceremoniously shoved away,” Mirren says. “People in Hollywood are pretty brutal in that direction. And I’ve certainly experienced that.”
Although it seems impossible to believe anyone would push Mirren aside, she continues, “In terms of that working relationship, I don’t have that with my husband. Yes, of course, if he asked my advice I will always give it, but I have my acting career and he has his work. We utterly support each other, but we never try to interfere with each other’s work or interfere with the subjects. Sometimes Taylor will ask me to read a script and want my opinion, but mostly we just respect each other and that’s the deal.”
Mirren also thinks Reville had no interest in the spotlight herself which allowed her to have some peace with her husband’s global popularity. Moreover, this isn’t the first time someone has tried to give Reville her historical due. Her own daughter, Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, wrote “Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind The Man” which was a large source of Mirren’s research for the role.
“She very consciously wanted to give her mother credit to the mythology of Alfred Hitchcock,” Mirren says. “Without that I would have been completely lost.”
You can see more of our delightful conversation embedded at the top of this post.
“Hitchcock” is now playing in limited release.