BH Interview: 'Hitchcock' Director on How a Heavy Metal Doc Helped Secure Oscar-Winning Lead
Steve “Lips” Kudlow, the lead singer of the heavy metal group immortalized in the 2008 documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil, probably never expected to take a call from Sir Anthony Hopkins.
The two very different stars spoke all the same when Hopkins was courting the film biography Hitchcock to be directed by the same person behind The Story of Anvil.
It's the classic “truth is stranger than fiction” moment, but Hitchcock director Sacha Gervasi says he understands why the Oscar winner connected to the heavy metal saga.
“He's always about the underdog,” Gervasi tells Big Hollywood of the Welsh actor. “Like most interesting people at a certain point he may have felt like an outsider.”
That connection helped Hopkins agree to star as legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in the self-titled biography, available now on Blu-ray and via instant streaming. Hitchcock follows the North by Northwest director's attempts to bring a grisly story dubbed Psycho to the screen, an effort that shocked the film industry and forced the icon to pour his own cash into the production.
After all, respectable auteurs don't get their hands dirty with horror movies.
The film shows how Hitchcock, once he worked out a deal with the studio to make the project, had to jump through tiny hoops to meet the era's Production Code standards. Gervasi doesn't believe such restrictions help the creative process, adding today's filmmakers still must engage in a “game of chess” before their movies hit theaters.
“The form has changed but it's still studio politics,” he says, adding today's filmmakers must maneuver around moral issues as well as studio bosses eager to tell only certain kinds of accessible stories.
"That's part of the challenge and joy of filmmaking," he says diplomatically.
The older actors on the set of Hitchcock, like Hopkins and Helen Mirren (as Alma Hitchcock) could draw upon their memories of seeing some of the director's films in the theater. Hopkins, for example, recalls paying to see Psycho circa 1960. His more youthful co-stars, like Scarlett Johansson and James D'Arcy, viewed Psycho as the first part of a large line of cinematic violence, connecting it to The Wild Bunch, Bonnie and Clyde, and later the Saw and Hostel franchises, he says.
Gervasi's next project is My Dinner with Herve, based on an interview he conducted with Fantasy Island star Herve Villechaize six days before the actor killed himself.
“I've been nurturing it for a really long time,” says Gervasi, who has cast Game of Thrones standout Peter Dinklage to play the late actor. “Twenty years later it still hasn't left me.”