"Hitchcock" trains lens on the love story of Alfred and Alma

Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:04am EST
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - She won Oscar gold for her uncanny performance as Britain's Queen Elizabeth, but Helen Mirren's latest portrayal finds her as the power behind the throne -- or, more precisely, the director's chair.

In "Hitchcock," Mirren stars opposite Anthony Hopkins as legendary director Alfred Hitchcock's devoted wife Alma Reville, and early buzz has her a contender for another Oscar nomination.

The film, which opens in limited release on Friday, explores the domestic life of one of Hollywood's most iconic and revered directors, set during the days of his struggle to put the ground-breaking 1960 classic, "Psycho" on the silver screen.

Toggling back and forth between his on-set battles with censors and his cast including Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) and Tony Perkins (James D'Arcy), and his strained relationship with Alma as she copes with his well-documented obsession with his ravishing leading ladies, "Hitchcock" treats film fans to a glimpse of bygone Hollywood.

But it paints a more nuanced and sympathetic portrait of the director Hopkins called "a damaged man" than the recent television film "The Girl," which dramatized the hell Hitchcock put Tippi Hedren through during filming of "The Birds."

"It's a great role," Mirren said of Alma, a film editor and assistant director in her own right who ceded the spotlight to her husband, but as the film makes clear was involved in virtually every aspect of his films and even re-cut "Psycho" into the masterpiece it is known as today.

"So, you don't turn that down," she told Reuters.

Having won her Oscar as one of the world's most famous women, Mirren said she finds herself drawn to "the ones I don't know anything about, like Alma. Those are the most fun."   Continued...

Actress Helen Mirren attends the film premiere of "Hitchcock" in New York November 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly