Actress Tippi Hedren Describes The 'Brutal' Way Alfred Hitchcock Ruined Her Career

"I said, 'No. We're not doing that. We're not doing that screen test.'"

When Tippi Hedren first met director Alfred Hitchcock, she was an unknown actress with no movie credits to her name. Within just a few years, Hedren quickly became a Hollywood star, landing leading roles in several of Hitchcock’s most famous films, including “The Birds” and “Marnie.” But, as quickly as Hitchcock launched Hedren’s career, he also ruined it, Hedren says.

By the time she began filming 1964’s “Marnie,” Hedren knew what it was like to work with Hitchcock, who she says made unwanted advances toward her previously during “The Birds.” As Hedren tells WhereAreTheyNow.buzz, her instincts told her that the Hitchcock’s behavior during “Marnie” was only going to get worse.

“I saw a huge problem coming,” Hedren says. “There would be the invitations to have lunch with him, and then there would be lunch and a glass of wine, and then he would tell me stories about how he would like to do some ‘research.’ One day, we would have a little table and there would be 12 martinis on it. I would be filmed while I was drinking 12 martinis.”

From there, Hedren says Hitchcock’s behavior escalated. She asserts in her new memoir, Tippi, that Hitchcock installed a secret door between his office and Hedren’s dressing room, and even kept a life mask of her face for his personal use. Eventually, Hitchcock’s advances became physical when he sexually assaulted Hedren.

“I said, ‘No. We’re not doing that. We’re not doing that screen test,’” she says. “I right then and there said, ‘I cannot do this anymore... If that’s what you want of me, I am not interested.”

Tippi Hedren

However, Hedren was still under contract to work with Hitchcock for two more years. She told him she wanted out of the contract, but the director refused to let Hedren go. “He said, ‘Well, you can’t. You have your daughter to support and ... your parents are getting older,’” Hedren says.

When Hedren pointed out that neither her young daughter, Melanie Griffith, nor her parents would want her to be so unhappy, Hitchcock took a more possessive approach.

“He said, ‘I’ll ruin your career’ ― and he did. He kept paying me my salary for two years, so he had control of what [offers] came in,” Hedren explains. “It was just mean and brutal.”

Though Hitchcock’s behavior devastated Hedren, she adds that their professional relationship was complicated.

“There were two sides to him. I mean, the one side, I admired very, very much. He was one of the greatest talents in our motion picture industry. There’s no doubt about that,” she says. “But, as a man, I was disgusted.”

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