Sienna Miller to play Tippi Hedren, victim of Hitchcock's sexual obsession
- Film will show how Hitchcock sexually harassed the blonde starlet and tried to control her life
Sienna Miller is to star in a harrowing new drama about film director Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with Tippi Hedren – star of his classic The Birds – and how it destroyed both their careers.
The Girl, to be screened next year, will show how an infatuated 62-year-old Hitchcock sexually harassed the 31-year-old blonde starlet and tried to control every aspect of her life – both on and off screen.
Tippi suffered in silence for the best part of three years but eventually walked out when her mentor made it clear her future career depended on giving in to his sexual demands.
New role: Sienna Miller, left, has met Tippi, right who she will play in film The Girl
Gwyneth Hughes, the writer of the BBC2 drama, said: ‘Everyone knows Hitchcock was keen on his blondes. Unfortunately for Tippi, he developed a twisted and obsessive love for her that left her feeling isolated and terrified. He made repeated sexual advances towards her and tried to take over her life.
‘Today we would call it sexual harassment but that concept had not been accepted back then.’
The new film is inspired by the biographer Donald Spoto’s account of the couple’s relationship in his 2008 book Spellbound By Beauty.
Hitchcock’s infatuation with Tippi began in 1961 when he spotted her by chance in a television commercial for a diet drink.
Convinced he had found the next Grace Kelly, the director ignored the fact that Tippi had no real acting experience and signed her up for the starring role in 1963 film The Birds.
Controlling: Tippi pictured with Hitchcock at a screening of The Birds in Cannes, France in 1963
Tippi in a scene from The Birds
The director of Psycho and Vertigo immediately set about transforming her into the perfect Hollywood icon and took control of all aspects of her life, including her off-set wardrobe and diet.
Divorcee Tippi – whose daughter Melanie Griffith grew up to be a major Hollywood star in her own right – was initially grateful for the director’s attention.
But she grew more and more fearful as his obsession began to spiral out of control, first on the set of The Birds and then during production on their follow-up film, Marnie.
Hitchcock, who had taken to incessantly staring at Tippi between takes, banned her from sharing cars with her male co-stars and insisted that all their conversations took place in private so they could be alone together.
Hitchcock's obsession with Tippi eventually destroyed both their careers
The film maker photographed to showcase the 1955 TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Sean Connery, left, and Tippi Hedren, right in a scene from Hitchock's film, Marnie
As well as bombarding her with unwanted gifts, he had her followed around town and, totally obsessed, even sent examples of her handwriting to graphologists.
Tippi, who had signed a seven-year contract with the director, put up with his harassment because she was fearful he would blacklist her if she spoke out.
But she finally quit when he made it clear on the set of Marnie that she would never work again unless she gave in to his sexual demands.
Tippi’s decision to walk away stalled her career because Hitchcock kept her to her contract and refused to allow her to work with other directors. But the collapse of the couple’s working relationship also had a devastating impact on the director, whose long run of hit, classic movies dried up.
Both Spoto and Tippi, who is now 81 and has already met Miller, 29, to discuss the role, are co-operating with the producers of the film.
It will begin shooting on Thursday and will be screened on BBC2 next year. Imelda Staunton will play the director’s long-suffering wife, Alma.
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