‘Hitchcock’ director Sacha Gervasi films the shower and the glory

Getty Images File PhotoBig movie: Sacha Gervasi attends the premiere of “Hitchcock.”

Getty Images File PhotoBig movie: Sacha Gervasi attends the premiere of “Hitchcock.”

In the new movie “Hitchcock,” two dissimilar directors — one living, one dead — collide.

In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock wanted to move away from the glossy color movies Hollywood had been making. But no one wanted to finance “Psycho,” so he decided to put up the money himself.

Many years later, London-born filmmaker Sacha Gervasi also used his own money to make the documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” which received great acclaim (and a best documentary award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle).

A year or two later, Gervasi found himself last on a list of 27 directors being interviewed for “Hitchcock.”

“[Producer] Tom Pollock told me upfront that I wasn’t going to get the job. Why would they give it to me? They had two Academy Award-winning directors up for it,” Gervasi laughs.

But Pollock told Gervasi the producers, who loved “Anvil,” still wanted to hear his ideas.

“So I had nothing to lose, and I went for it,” Gervasi says. “At the end of an hour and a half, he said, ‘You should direct the film.’”

Gervasi’s pitch included casting Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as Hitch’s long-suffering wife, Alma, and focusing on their complex relationship.

Upon meeting Hopkins, Gervasi says, “I was very nervous … petrified. I walk in, and he spreads his arms and says, ‘I’ve seen “Anvil!” three times!’ The best part was that I put him on the phone with Lips from Anvil, and they had this amazing conversation!”

In dealing with an iconic figure like Hitchcock, Gervasi decided to humanize him by showing his good and bad sides together: “He’s a monster. He’s a genius. He’s genuinely a contradiction. He’s not resolvable.”

His wife, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on every Hitchcock movie, was equally important as a character. “Hitchcock” reveals that Alma persuaded Hitch to add the shrieking string music to the famed “Psycho” shower scene.

“This incredibly strong, brilliant woman was by his side through all of it. Her decisions were absolutely critical to his genius,” he says.

And so ultimately, the guy who made “Anvil!” has brought his understanding of artists and collaborators to “Hitchcock,” but perhaps more importantly, “I genuinely believe that Hitchcock would have wanted the movie about himself to be fun.”

Anthony HopkinsartsentertainmentHelen MirrenMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read