Sacha Gervasi:
HITCHCOCK




  • On the set...

    Director Sacha Gervasi discusses a shot with Anthony Hopkins, who plays the title character Alfred Hitchcock

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Ed Gein’s basement

    Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] “in” the mass murderer’s workshop…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Ed Gein’s basement

    Psychopath & mass murderer Ed Gein [Michael Wincott] becomes a little too real to Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock’s office

    Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] is fascinated with the story of mass murderer Ed Gein…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock bedroom

    Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] rejects all other scripts and tells his wife Alma [Helen Mirren] he wants to make PYSCHO as his next film…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock bedroom suite

    Pre-viz sketch of the Hitchcock bedroom, dressing area and bath…

    © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock kitchen

    Alma [Helen Mirren] and Alfred [Anthony Hopkins] discuss his film quandary…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock kitchen

    The kitchen carries touches of the aqua and coral palette used in various hues throughout their house and the film…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock kitchen

    A blend of English traditional and ‘50s contempoarary…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock kitchen

    The refrigerator was essential for Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…it held his treasured froi gras and caviar…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock living room

    Alma Reville [Helen Mirren] decides to take on a screenplay rewrite which is not one of her husband’s films…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock living room

    Modern art and a contemporary television somehow fit within the English traditional living room...a combination evocative of their relationship…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock living room

    Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] presents to members of the press photos of the murders he plans to incorporate in his new film…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock dining room

    Press day is not going well… Super-agent Lew Wasserman [Michael Stuhlbarg], Hitchcock’s devoted secretary & Alma’s good friend Peggy Robertson [Toni Collette], and Hitch [Anthony Hopkins] …

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  • Hitchcock garden patio

    Alma [Helen Mirren] and Alfred [Anthony Hopkins] discuss the film’s financial burden…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.






  • Hitchcock house, backyard

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock house, front entry

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Musso & Franks, Hollywood

    Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson], Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] and his wife Alma Reville [Helen Mirren] toast their new film project, PSYCHO…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hitchcock’s office

    Tony Perkins [James D’Arcy] interviews in hopes of getting the part of Norman Bates

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Outside her dressing room, Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson] and fellow actor Tony Perkins [James D’Arcy] talk with their director Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Janet Leigh’s dressing room

    Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson] and director Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Janet Leigh’s dressing room

    Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson] and Vera Miles [Jessica Biel] get an unexpected visitor…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Director Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Driving scene…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Bates Hotel set, PSYCHO

    Director Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] and his actors Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson] and Tony Perkins [James D’Arcy] await scene change…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Bates Hotel set, PSYCHO

    Details include tongue in cheek references…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Wating for the censor’s set visit…Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson], Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] and Peggy Robertson [Toni Collette]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Script revisions are a film constant…Peggy’s soundstage “office”

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.







  • The getaway where Alma Reville [Helen Mirren] partners on a screenplay rewrite…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    After she stands in as director while her husband is ill, Alma Reville [Helen Mirren] thanks Janet Leigh [Scarlet Johansson] for her professionalism, on and off set…

    Photo © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Director Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins], back to work…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Soundstage

    Actress Vera Miles [Jessica Biel] in a climactic scene for PSYCHO…Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins], Peggy Robertson [Toni Collette]…

    Photo © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Editing room

    Alma Reville [Helen Mirren] steps in to fine-tune her husband’s film…Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins]…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.





  • Hollywood movie theater

    Alfred Hitchcock [Anthony Hopkins] views the premiere of PSYCHO from the theater’s projection room…

    Photo by Suzanne Tenner © 2012 Fox Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.


“I think the precision and the meticulousness of detail that both the production designer and set decorator brought was something that told you the story without hearing a single word...”

Director Sacha Gervasi

 

Rather than the usual biopic, the feature film HITCHCOCK is a love story, as Director Sacha Gervasi describes, “the real-life union between an imperious director known for his dark obsessions and a ferociously intelligent woman who was a screenwriter, superb editor and behind-the-scenes assistant director."

"Sacha found a contemporary relevance in the Hitchcock story that resonates for an audience,” says Producer Tom Thayer. “He made it the story of a marriage, framing their relationship against the gauntlet Hitch encountered developing PSYCHO…an artist trying to reinvent himself in an industry that wanted more of the same. It was Sacha mining the complexities of Hitch and Alma's [Anthony Hopkins & Helen Mirren]  relationship through this lens that brought so much to the surface."

“I always felt the core of HITCHCOCK had to be the love story between Alfred and Alma,” Gervasi comments. “They had this dynamic, complex, contradictory, beautiful, painful relationship that was not just a marriage but a real creative collaboration. I was really interested in how these two very strong-minded people lived with each other and created together, and that brought a whole new perspective to the story of how PSYCHO was made. Without Alma at his side, Hitchcock would not have been as brilliant, or would not have pulled off PSYCHO.”

Gervasi, who wrote THE TERMINAL and won numerous awards for the documentary ANVIL, chats with SET DECOR about the making of the film and bringing about his vision of Hitchcock through a slice of time that became particularly significant to the legendary director, both professionally and personally...

Director Sacha Gervasi: We had an opportunity to shine a light on the idea of partnership, on how hard it is to be married, on how hard it is to express yourself. But I think you don’t always have to be serious to be profound. And sometimes through comedy and lightness, you can really touch upon deeper things. I think what I hooked into was having a sense of fun. The thing that I love about Hitchcock is the way he approached life, death, sex, mothers and murders all with a kind of drollness. So that was the spirit with which we approached this material.

SET DECOR: This was quite an experience to jump into...

Gervasi: I know, with all this incredible crew! It started with Production Designer Judy Becker, who is extraordinary. I think the same things applied to the crew as it did to the actors…hire the best, cast the position correctly, and then you let the people do their job. Judy loved the script and she came in for a meeting with an incredibly detailed presentation spanning the different visual worlds…the beach, the Hitchcock’s at home, Ed Gein’s place, Hollywood. She clearly understood the layers of the tonal journey of the movie. There are a lot of things going on…the surrealism, the hyper-realism…there’s slapstick comedy, there’s real darkness, there’s drama, melodrama…and she really got it. You could tell by her images for the film that she was really tuned to it.

SET DECOR: Did you have your own specifics that you asked for, that you wanted included?

Gervasi: Sure. We started with a gigantic room in which we put up all of the worlds in photos. We’d review them, and I would say “That works. That isn’t right for it…” And I would ask for specific things, but really the most of it came from Judy.

We weren’t dealing with an invented world…we were dealing with a real world. So we had tremendous source material to draw from, and then it was about finding the right balance, the right images, the right feel, the right tones, the right vibes…

I would give her film references and I would say, “I love the film BETTY BLUE, it’s set at the beach. Go and look at that just for color, the yellows and oranges in that.” For the Hitchcock’s home and in the garden, I said, “Look at REMAINS OF THE DAY and HOWARD’S END."

So it was more like she would key into what I was thinking about and then she would come back with her own ideas, which were more often than not, ten times better than mine…because she has such a keen eye…

SET DECOR: Yes, she’s had the experience and she has the eye….and she’s meant to be your visual voice.

As is the set decorator.

Gervasi: Absolutely. Who was great on this film...Bob Gould, who had worked on THE ARTIST…and his team, which was just fantastic! And he had a great eye for detail. You know, by choosing the books on a shelf, he could tell the story of the character. I think the precision and the meticulousness of detail that both Judy and Bob brought was something that told you the story without hearing a single word.

So I think that was the best part, to watch them…but also, to be able to trust them. And if something was notably out of key, or didn’t seem right, I would say so, and they would change it…and they were always very open to that.

SET DECOR: Let’s talk about the details, such as the images of birds appearing in various forms in his offices, in their house…years before he filmed the thriller THE BIRDS.

Gervasi: We were having a bit of fun! I particularly liked the ones on the lamp in Hitchcock’s office, the scene where he’s reading the PSYCHO book and she comes in the door…And then the birds on the wall in his other office at the studio…An additional nod to Hitchcock was his love of modern art, so pieces appeared in their home and in his office.

SET DECOR: It seemed that the decor of their house was quietly controlled, traditional English with a few touches of contemporary…which is somewhat descriptive of their marriage. For Alma, was there anything that stood out for her character?

Gervasi: Well, Alma had this little office in a nook in the kitchen and you could see all the bills and the ledgers on her desk, and you could see the pressure building up…so that’s another little thing that the set decorator did that gave you more information…And then we see her typing the rewrite of PSYCHO at the kitchen table…The kitchen was important to get right as it was the setting for some of their most revealing repartee…that and the bedroom…

SET DECOR: Which was a fitting sort of ‘50s icy blue, with the creamy French Provincial furniture…ice and warmth…perceptibly evocative of their relationship…but were these directly referencing their actual furnishings?

Gervasi: Yes, that was what they had…essentially. Their bedroom was white, like the bathroom and dressing area, but for camera, the icy blue tones worked better and gave more definition.

SET DECOR: Another recurring setting is the patio with its white furniture crisp against the brick house and the colors of the garden and the pool…England in Hollywood.

Gervasi: Yes! We really looked at their actual backyard in photos and tried to source stuff from them…tried to be true as much as we could.

SET DECOR: And their other world, that of the studio…the sound stages…the sets within the sets…the vintage equipment…

Gervasi:  Well, we took all of that from source photos. And what was interesting, the original PYSCHO set photos were all in black and white, as was the film…but we found some color photos, and the sets were so vivid to get the monochrome effect in black and white film…for instance, there were deep crimson red lamps next to a yellow chair. So basically, everything was very bright and quite surreal when you walked on the set…

SET DECOR: It’s amazing, that translation. I remember our discussions of the chroma scale for black & white in our interviews with the directors of THE ARTIST and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.

That almost garish palette of the PSYCHO sets was softened back to a variation of the peachy corals and aquas used throughout the film when we see the dressing rooms for the film’s leading ladies, Janet Leigh [Scarlett Johansson] and Vera Miles [Jessica Biel].

Gervasi:  Yes, and there was a difference in the rooms, Janet’s was warmer, with fresh flowers…and of course, Vera Miles’s had the peephole and it was a little less welcoming…

SET DECOR: Yes, she was being punished by Hitchcock! But the Degas dancers in Janet Leigh’s dressing room was a lovely little bit of symbolism, as the two women became friends during the making of the film…

Gervasi:  That’s right! Little touches that Bob and Judy brought to it, which are very subtle, but to those who recognize, you’re telling a story with the tiniest detail.

SET DECOR: What about specific elements from the original film?

Gervasi:  Yes! In our re-creation of the famous detective scene with Mrs Bates and the fall…at the bottom of the staircase there’s this great ornamental lamp fixture that was the actual one from PSYCHO. And James D’Arcy [who portrays Tony Perkins] wears the jacket that Tony Perkins wore as Norman Bates…the beige corduroy jacket. That was the actual piece from the original wardrobe, so wherever we could, we tried to sneak it in. Pretty wild, right?

SET DECOR: Pretty wonderful. And how about for you?  This was a literal translation of another time... when you walked onto the sets…

Gervasi:  It was like entering a different era, it was fantastic.



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