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Sienna Miller got a taste of what the Hitchcock Blonde experience might’ve been like when she portrayed Tippi Hedren in 2012’s HBO movie “The Girl” about the making of “The Birds” and the filmmaker’s torturous methods. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously held control over Hedren’s career with a seven-year contract, and reportedly made her life a living hell on the set of “The Birds” and “Marnie,” the only two films they did together after Hitch plucked her out of a Sego commercial.
While Miller said she’s never experienced any abuse in her career firsthand, she still found resonance in the role, as she said while reflecting on Hedren’s destructive relationship with her director, and how Hedren’s story might play out today, during a recent Montclair Film Festival Q&A.
“With certain directors, there’s an element of control. I tend to respond really positively to nurturing warmth and support, but there are directors who have gotten performances out of me by doing the opposite,” said Miller, who was attending the festival virtually to support her new movie “Wander Darkly.” “Nothing on the level of Hitchcock and Tippi. That was a really, really traumatizing, appalling experience for her. And not only how he treated her in the making of those films but in the aftermath. He kept her under contract. He wouldn’t release her to work with Godard and Truffaut, etc. who we were all trying to hire her, but just kept her for 10 years under this contract and watched her grow old, without making anything. It was very sadistic.”
Miller added, “Thankfully I think the world has changed enough where if anybody even attempted that kind of abuse, there is an army of women that would come out and fight it. And I feel very fortunate to be working in these times, because I think that story is not uncommon of that era. You really belonged to the studio that you were assigned to and, essentially, to the director.”
Miller said that she’s never been confronted with any “sexual abuse” in her career. “But there was yelling, and there was inappropriate behavior. I do remember when I was younger going for auditions. You’d do do the tape, and they’d seem disinterested, but then they’d make you turn around and film your whole body, and zoom in… people are a lot more careful,” she said.
“Wander Darkly” will be released by Lionsgate in December in select theaters and on VOD, and it’s currently playing virtual festivals, including Montclair and AFI Fest.