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Leicester Mercury (09/Feb/2013) - Staying hitched to a screen legend



Staying hitched to a screen legend

Meeting any famous actress can be pretty daunting, particularly if they've won an Oscar - and for playing the Queen to boot. But Dame Helen Mirren is delightfully down-to-earth.

We're both wearing black lace tops and shoe-boots, hers a wonderful opened-toed leopard skin pair, and she comments on the similarity of our outfits to break the ice.

The truth is I'm a good 30 years younger but she looks way more glamorous than me. And she looks better in a swimsuit.

In her latest film, Hitchcock, the 67-year-old plays Alma Reville, the wife of the great film director.

In one scene, Alma buys a red swimming costume and plunges into the couple's pool, which they might lose if Hitch's next film, Psycho, doesn't sell.

I can't stop myself from marvelling at her figure. How does she do it? "Oh God, don't ask!" she says, laughing.

"I don't know. Judicious cutting and editing, it's a very good thing."

Hitchcock, in which Anthony Hopkins plays the director, is a fascinating insight into Alma and the part she played in making Psycho a global hit.

As a script and film editor, she was the strong woman behind the powerful man and made clever choices that would shape the film, including insisting on the screechy soundtrack in the iconic shower scene.

Hitchcock was obsessed with his leading ladies. In Psycho it was Janet Leigh (played by Scarlett Johansson), the latest in his string of "Hitchcock blondes". Alma overlooked these foibles and spent 54 years as his wife and collaborator.

"It is a love story," says Mirren. " I think Alma and Hitch were, in their own funny, unglamorous way, a great kind of Romeo and Juliet partnership. They were amazing partners in life and I think they could teach us all something about how to make a successful marriage."

Surprisingly, Mirren and Hopkins had never worked together before and then, like buses, two film projects came along at once - Hitchcock and Red 2, an action movie sequel.

"We worked really well together and I think it's because we have a similar background of acting," she says.

"We've both come from the theatre, to start off with. So we both knew how to give each other room to work, the kind of support we needed.

"He was wonderful to work with, always in a good humour even though it was irritating sometimes to have to wear that make-up and fat body suit."

Hitchcock is the latest in a string of films featuring older relationships, including Quartet, with Dame Maggie Smith, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Dame Judi Dench.

"I think it's just a question of finding an audience that they had forgotten about," says Mirren. "They didn't think anyone over the age of 50 wanted to go to the cinema. But they didn't want to go to the cinema because there were no movies they wanted to see!" Hitchcock is out now.