It's no secret to those who take an interest in Hitchcock film lore that his leading ladies didn't always think very highly of him; rumors have churned for years that he was mentally abusive to those who refused his advances and took his frustrations out the only way he could: by punishing the beautiful stars of his movies with extra-long hours on set and cruel stunts. And while some directors show tough love to their actors in order to get the very best performance out of them--I'm talking to you, Stanley Kubrick--actress Tippi Hedren insists that Hitchcock was deliberately evil to her and anyone else who went against him.
Now, Hedren--who starred in "The Birds" and is also Melanie Griffith's mother--is speaking out about the odd practices of the iconic director against the backdrop of a newly-finished HBO movie, "The Girl", which tells the behind-the-scenes stories of some of his most famous films.
"I think he was an extremely sad character," she said. "We are dealing with a brain here that was an unusual genius, and evil, and deviant, almost to the point of dangerous, because of the effect that he could have on people that were totally unsuspecting."
Although she says there were good times in those days--such as being under his tutelage--sometimes the bad outweighed the good, especially when he used his long arm of influence to keep her from getting another job once she refused to work with him after their second film together. Back then, women had about as many rights in Hollywood as they did anywhere else; which is to say, not many.
Still, Hedren says she didn't let his tyranny cast a shadow on the rest of her life.
"He ruined my career but he didn't ruin my life," she said. "If this had happened today I would be a very rich woman."
"The Girl" airs on HBO this October.