Getting Into Character

By Maggie Smolka | 9-22-13

Toby Jones

There were two directors on the set of HBO’s film “The Girl.”

“A lot of my lines were action and cut,” said actor Toby Jones.  “So that was often confusing and I think Julian, the director, found it occasionly disconcerting that there was a version of Alfred Hitchcock bolting around the set.”

Jones’s performance of iconic director Alfred Hitchcock got him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor.  From the voice and makeup, to the posture and stature, Jones essentially re-creates Hitchcock’s public persona.

“Of course you’re desperate to play parts like this, and at the same time you are so terrified of it,” said Jones.  “If I don’t show [Alfred’s] silloute, if I don’t sound a bit like him, if I don’t suggest him, it would be distracting for the audience.”

“The Girl” is based on a genuine account of events, which highlights Hitchcock’s obsessive and abusive connection with up-and-coming actress Tippi Hedren.

“We look at Alfred Hitchcock’s behavior and it is unforgivable,” said Jones.  “And so I saw my job as trying to suggest and imply why his behavior might be explained, if not forgiven.”

But the film sparked controversy in the film industry.  Some critics complained Hitchcock was not represented faithfully, casting a dark light on his personality.

“We’re very clear in the film that it’s about one period in [Hitchcock’s] career,” said Jones. “It’s not trashing Alfred Hitchcock, very far from it.  It shows how important and significant [he] was, but it also shows there is a man inside the image of [him], an image that is like a lot like other men in the history of drama.”

Jones will make his next acting debut in a ten part series called Wayward Pines.