Lurking behind Alfred Hitchcock, cinema’s “master of suspense” – the extraordinary film icon known for orchestrating some of the most intense experiences of menace and intrigue audiences have ever seen, was a hidden side: his creatively explosive romance with his steadfast wife and filmmaking collaborator, Alma Reville. Sacha Gervasi’s ‘Hitchcock’ lays bare their captivating and complex love story. It does so through the sly, shadowy lens of their most daring filmmaking adventure: the making of the 1960 thriller, ‘Psycho,’ which would become the director’s most controversial and legendary film. When the tumultuous, against-the-odds production was over, nothing about movies would ever be the same – but few realised that it took two to pull it off.

Based on the book ‘Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho’ by Stephen Rebello, ‘Hitchock’ stars Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchock, Helen Mirren as Alma Reville, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, Michael Stuhlbarg as Lew Wasserman, Toni Collette as Hitchcock’s secretary Peggy, Michael Wincott as Ed Gein, Kurtwood Smith as Geoffrey Shurlock, Richard Portnow as Barney Balaban, and Danny Huston as Whitfield Cook. ‘Hitchock’ is out in cinemas on November 23rd in the US and Febuary 8th, 2013 in the UK. My other interviews for the film can be found through the following links: Scarlett JohanssonJessica BielAnthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins/Helen Mirren.

After working on this film has your perception of Alfred Hitchcock changed?

Jessica Biel: It changed completely, I had only known him through the legend of him, through this kind of mythology in the film world. This idea that he was kind of a dictator, that he was very black and white about things, that it was either a yes or a no – there was no grey area there. But I just don’t feel like that’s who he was anymore, I feel like there’s so much more to this man, such a humility to him and an insecurity and a vulnerability to him. He had an amazingly compassionate sense of humour, which is what I think him and his wife shared. They shared a love of film and a love of laughter. He was funny and clever and dark and witty, and kind of perverted in a wonderful way (laughs). I didn’t know any of that about him, so I really do feel like my mind has been blown after having done this movie.

James, how was it for you researching for your role of Anthony Perkins, he kept his personal life incredibly private?

James D’Arcy: The fact that not much is known about Anthony Perkins’ life off screen was intriguing. Every character in this film has a secret side. It’s very Hitchcockian in that way. There is a biography of Anthony Perkins that I read, and that was really helpful. In fact we took some of what was in that book, because it seemed very pertinent in terms of his upbringing, his father dying when he was very young, that he was very close to his mother – that seemed pertinent to the role of Norman Bates. So we took some of that, I suggested a few little bits to Sacha Gervasi and he lifted it and put it into the interview sequence that he has with Hitchcock in the film. So that was great, it was really the best source of information.

I can imagine you may have felt an extra responsibility playing a real life person, someone who’s so well known?

Jessica Biel: It’s a massive challenge, it’s terrifying to think about trying to be someone else who actually exists, who’s actually still alive, and someone who’s had such an incredible career. And Vera, she had such an interesting relationship with Mr. Hitchcock. I watched everything I could on her, her films. I read everything I could. I was lucky enough to speak with one of her family members, who is very close with her. They gave me amazing tidbits of information to help me get in, to find the way “in” to this woman. That was my best resource.

‘Psycho’ was a kind of gift Anthony Perkins had been waiting for his whole career. 

James D’Arcy: I think it was a huge break for Anthony Perkins. Actors were lining up to work with Hitchcock at this point. At the same time, the studios were trying to position Perkins as a kind of young James Dean which he didn’t fit into terribly easily. He was more gangly and gawky and kind of childlike and he didn’t have that sort of masculinity that Montgomery Clift or Brando and all those guys had and actually, I think ultimately, that was sort of the reason that we only really know him for ‘Psycho’ – because he was never truly accepted by American audiences beyond ‘Psycho.’ Now we’re really used to the idea that the psychopathic murderer turns out to be the last person you’d expect, but when ‘Psycho’ came out, the casting of Anthony Perkins was shocking.

I was born in the 70s, so it’s interesting to think about the kind of cultural impact Hitchcock has had because it’s so permeated throughout my cultural references, that half the time I don’t even realise that it is a Hitchockian reference, if you know what I mean? He’s that prevalent now, and he’s that mimicked and copied in terms of his style that you really have to go back to the original films to get any sense of how extraordinarily groundbreaking what he did was.

You worked with an incredible cast and team on ‘Hitchcock.’ What was that experience like, going head to head with the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren?

Jessica Biel: It was totally unbelievable, stupendously fantastic (laughs). It was such a creative experience, you know? Just working with this kind of talent, for me it was just….it was scary, because you really had to bring your A game, and you didn’t know that it was totally working, but it was a dream project to be with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and everybody else. This ones going to be hard to beat, for sure.

James D’Arcy: It was a beautiful and there’s amazing people on the film. Some of the names that you obviously know, but they were very down to earth, very normal. And then also the people that you don’t know, the crew, they were just amazing. ‘Hitchcock’ was a reasonably low budget film, and people were there working on it because they just loved the story. Everyone was excited to be there, the hours were long and everyone was tired, but everybody had a kind of passion and excitement that honestly you don’t get on every film you do. Often times it can feel like a job, on ‘Hitchcock’ it felt like a labour of love.

How was it working under the direction of Sacha Gervasi? He picked a challenging film for his directional debut? 

Jessica Biel: Definitely (laughs). He is an incredible combination of confidence and humility, he would come on set knowing exactly what he wanted, but then he would say, “What happens now, what do we do now?” He had this amazing ability to kind of disarm you because he’s not pretending that he knows everything. He would ask for advice, he would be listening to other peoples opinions, which is why you surround yourself with great people so that you have these resources to tap into. But then at the same time he knew exactly what he wanted. Performance wise he would guide you down a path and take you this way, then turn you this way, and he was never insecure about anything. I think that’s a really, really rare combination of elements – and the absolute best combination of elements when you’re speaking about a director. Plus, he was so warm and so loving, he made you feel like you were here for a reason and you were the best (laughs). Instilling that kind of confidence in your actors I think gives them a really great platform to jump off from. He was great.