Actress Tippi Hedren claims that iconic movie director Alfred Hitchcock assaulted her on the sets of 1963’s The Birds and 1964’s Marnie.
Hedren had previously spoken out about Hitchcock’s behaviour towards her (specifically in the 2012 movie The Girl), but now she’s documented further details in her autobiography, Tippi: A Memoir.
According to the book’s advance copy, which was reviewed by journalists at multiple outlets, Hitchcock started the unwanted behaviour on the set of The Birds, Hedren’s first movie.
Hedren — mother to actress Melanie Griffith and grandmother to Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson — claims that during filming of the movie, Hitchcock instructed male lead Rod Taylor and other male members of the cast not to “touch The Girl” or even talk to her.
When Hitchcock spotted her speaking with a man on set, she writes, he would become “icy” and “petulant,” shooting her an “expressionless, unwavering stare … even if he was talking to a group of people on the other side of the sound stage.”
She learned that Hitchcock also had her handwriting analyzed, often instructed his driver to cruise past her house, and once asked her to “touch him” as he tried to kiss her in the back of his limousine.
“It was an awful, awful moment,” she writes, noting that “sexual harassment and stalking were terms that didn’t exist” during that era.
After the limousine incident, things allegedly escalated on set. While shooting a scene where birds are trying to attack a hiding Hedren in a phone booth, she claims that one of the mechanical crows broke the glass and shards hit her face.
She says she was also told that live birds would have to be used in some scenes, and she recounts spending five days with live birds being thrown at her and attached to her body. She finally reached her breaking point when a bird attached to her shoulder almost pecked her in the eye — after the exhausting experience she says she spent an entire week in bed.
Hedren, who was 33 at the time, believes all of the suffering she experienced at the hands of Hitchcock was punishment for rebuffing his advances.
Despite all of this trauma, the movie’s critical acclaim led Hedren to agree to work with Hitchcock again in Marnie, but things allegedly got worse on that set. Apparently, Hitchcock had a “secret door” installed in Hedren’s dressing room which led directly to his office.
Hitchcock would “find some way to express his obsession with me, as if I owed it to him to reciprocate somehow,” she writes. “He suddenly grabbed me and put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse and it was ugly. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.”
Hedren claims that her career never recovered, since Hitchcock, frustrated with her lack of interest in him, reportedly blocked other studios and directors from working with her.
“Studios were the power,” Hedren said, in 2012 to ThinkProgress. “And I was at the end of that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do legally whatsoever. There were no laws about this kind of a situation. If this had happened today, I would be a very rich woman.”
Hedren’s book will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 1.