Dakota Johnson: Alfred Hitchcock ‘terrorized’ my grandmother Tippi Hedren

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While I’m not really a Sienna Miller fan, one of her best films is arguably The Girl. In the film, Sienna plays Tippi Hedren and the film focuses on Alfred Hitchcock sexually harassing her and making her professional and personal life a living hell for years. While Tippi Hedren was a woman ahead of her time, she was still living and working in the 1960s, when “workplace sexual harassment and assault” wasn’t a conversation or a political issue. If you were a woman who got harassed at work, there was nowhere to go, no protection, no recourse. Tippi Hedren detailed Hitchcock’s vile behavior towards her in her own memoir, and she is still alive and very close to her granddaughter Dakota Johnson. During the Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast interview, Dakota grew emotional when discussing what her grandmother went through.

Dakota Johnson is opening up about her grandmother Tippi Hedren’s experiences working in Hollywood. The Fifty Shades of Grey star sat down for a live taping of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast where she said Hedren — the mother of actress Melanie Griffith — “was encouraging” of her when it came to pursuing an acting career despite the abuse she endured in the industry.

“She’s always been really honest and firm about standing up for yourself. That’s what she did,” Johnson said. “[Alfred] Hitchcock ruined her career because she didn’t want to sleep with him, and he terrorized her. He was never held accountable.”

Hedren worked with the director in the 1963 film The Birds as well as 1964’s Marnie. In her 2016 memoir, Tippi, the actress, now 91, claimed she was sexually assaulted by Hitchcock several times during the making of both films.

“It’s completely unacceptable for people in a position of power to wield that power over someone in a weaker position, no matter the industry,” Johnson continued, growing emotional. “It’s hard to talk about because she’s my grandmother. You don’t want to imagine somebody taking advantage of your grandmother. I think the thing that she’s been so amazing for me and with my mother is just like, no you do not put up with that s— from anybody. She would say it in a far more eloquent way. She’s such a glamorous movie star, still.”

Hedren recounted her experiences with Hitchcock, who died in 1980, in her memoir, saying the director would have his driver drive past her home and had once asked Hedren to “touch him” while they were working on The Birds. She also said the director once tried to force her to kiss him in the back of a limo, writing in the book, “It was an awful, awful moment.”

[From People]

Watching The Girl, it’s genuinely shocking how little effort anyone made to check Hitchcock’s completely disgusting behavior. The abuse and harassment didn’t just happen one-on-one. Hitchcock’s wife knew his behavior towards Tippi was obsessive and gross. Tippi’s costars in The Birds and Marnie knew that Hitchcock isolated her and was obsessed with her. No one did anything because that was Hitchcock’s power within the industry. But the craziest thing is that I bet all of our grandmothers had some equally awful stories about men abusing their power. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


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38 Responses to “Dakota Johnson: Alfred Hitchcock ‘terrorized’ my grandmother Tippi Hedren”

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  1. Amy Bee says:

    Was this podcast done after her terrible comments defending those accused of abuse came out?

    • purplehazeforever says:

      Does it change what happened to Tippi Hendren?

      • Amy Bee says:

        No, it doesn’t but you would hope that Dakota would have a bit more sympathy for the victims who came after her grandmother and that she would be more sensitive about how she goes about bemoaning the “cancellation” of her abusive colleagues.

      • Oh_Hey says:

        As Amy says above nothing will change my sympathy for Tippi but that doesn’t mean I can’t call her granddaughter a hypocrite.

        Why would abuse of your grandmother by Hitchcock be over the line but but court verified abuse by three powerful guys you happen to like is fine?

      • girl_ninja says:

        No. But it makes Dakota a hypocrite for basically excusing the behavior of the actors she likes.

    • corralee says:

      It was recorded before.

  2. EllenOlenska says:

    This is why we have to be careful of judging people’s choices in the context of their times…not our current times . There would have been no career for Tippi Hedren had she raised a public fuss at that time. She would have been ostracized and unemployable and a new blonde with chiseled looks put in her place. Hitchcock came after her and no one cared, because it was “ how things were”.

    And to be honest, watch the “ me too” backlash…how many of the “ big names” who had multiple witnesses come forth are still outcasts?

  3. Sam the Pink says:

    The problem is that so many people will say “well, what can be done now? He’s long dead, who cares?” Well, I don’t think it matters. It needs to be repeated over and over.

    But what can we do? I’d say don’t watch his films, don’t promote his work to anybody else, don’t extoll his virtues as a director, don’t screen his films, etc. Most of those Hollywood types are narcissists who thrive on praise and attention. The worst punishment for them is to be ignored, including after death. And don’t try to argue that’s censorship (its not). I’ve said it before, ‘I’ll say it again – there is no art on earth that is worth the price of human suffering.

    • EllenOlenska says:

      And there is also an issue when we boycott the art created by the monsters…if the actors got residuals…those disappear. Think of The Cosby show cast…many of whom likely, reasonably, thought their residuals from an insanely popular show would likely provide at least a little income…until it didn’t.

      • purplehazeforever says:

        Yeah, one of the actors from The Cosby Show was working at a grocery store after it was cancelled. He was shamed & when he was recognized, offers started to flood in.

      • Coco says:

        This seems like a excuse that people use to keep abusive men in power and intern create new victims.

  4. Becks1 says:

    Hitchcock’s treatment of tippi hedren was awful and as we see even today, awful behavior by men is overlooked in the name of “art” or money all the time. the MeToo movement and times up is starting to hold men accountable and starting to give women more power to come forward and share their experiences, but we still have a long way to go.

    Exhibit A re: having a long way to go: Dakota’s comments from a few weeks ago about a “major overcorrection” and how she feels sorry for the loss of great art and how cancel culture is a “downer.”

    • Emma says:

      Wow, that’s ironic (tragically) given her profound empathy for her grandmother. What’s a downer is losing your career and yes it still happens today. Happened to me.

  5. Seraphina says:

    Kaiser, TRUTH. Who knows what stories our grandmothers and great grandmothers (and down the line) would tell!!!!!!!!!
    “It’s completely unacceptable for people in a position of power to wield that power over someone in a weaker position” A problem not only for women but for minorities around the world.

    • Mcmmom says:

      My great-grandmother used to carry a pistol in her pocket to protect herself and her daughters. She was a beautiful young widow, supporting her family after the unexpected death of her husband. So yeah, I do have at least an idea of the types of stories my ancestors – and all women – could tell.

      • Seraphina says:

        I have seen abuse and harassment on so many levels – university setting, legislative/political, government agencies. CRAZY that is EVERYWHERE.

    • teehee says:

      “The more things change, the more they stay the same”– you mean, the more women change, the more men ….

      Well think of the stories WE will have to tell our granddaughters, still. “I got hacked and stalked on social media, had my private photos sold and distributed, I get cat called as i walk to work, men ask me for my number when I’m already dating and get angry when I say so—”
      What has changed at all?
      Edit– to say something nice– this is one of the first woman I am absolutely astonished by, from her beauty. Tippi is the real definition of “Stunning”!

  6. WhoElse says:

    Johnson is a hypocrite using her grandma’s trauma to get in the news after JUST claiming all the MeToo and “cancel culture” was a “downer”. I just don’t trust her. Hitchcock was obviously a strange and possibly dangerous individual, but Johnson is just a typical Hollywood white woman: won’t fight for anything if it will stop her journey to stardom, but will rely on SJ-adjacent language to seem relevant and empathetic.

  7. Toilet says:

    I have a minor in film and in one of my classic film courses, the professor had us watch The Birds. After it was over, he made us rewatch the main bird attack scene with our eyes closed to show us how it was basically a tape scene but with birds. I think he also said that Hitchcock tricked her into that scene being the way it was. Just awful.

    • Nuks says:

      Wow, just reading that made me realize how right your teacher was. Honestly you don’t even have to close your eyes. The intimacy, the upstairs room, eesh. Probably why that scene is so powerful.

    • Diamond Rottweiler says:

      I believe she ended up hospitalized over that scene and came close to losing an eye. Hitchcock tortured her by making her do it over and over with live, underfed birds. He had the filming stopped to have bird meal sewn into the seams of her costume because he wanted them to attack her more aggressively. He also forced her under contract to do the film Marnie which he had written to be the most humiliating role imaginable. A sexually “frigid” kleptomaniac who’s blackmailed into marrying Sean Connery who then rapes her back into mental health. Unbelievable.

      • Turtledove says:

        WOW. I didn’t know ANY of this. That is utterly horrifying.

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        I was coming to say about the number of retakes Hitchcock had her do. It was despicable. I though that there was someone on set? that wanted to help her out and she decided to stick it out because she didn’t want Hitchcock to break her. I might be mixing it up with something else. Hitchchock was a demented, abusive, sick pig. Sienna did a great job in that movie.

  8. corralee says:

    And then Dakota went right on to defend abusers like Shia labeouf. She can go in the trash where she belongs.

  9. Nina says:

    All I got is …. Hitchcock had a WIFE?????

  10. what's inside says:

    Women have been treated as objects to be possessed and used for centuries. Hollywood and the celebrity culture have allowed this to continue because of money and power. My mother told me once that she was accosted by a stranger on her way home. She got away by using her keys to stab him. Was she afraid? Sure. Did she stand up for herself? Absolutely. Should any of this be considered acceptable? Absolutely not.

  11. olliesmom says:

    Hitchcock wasn’t just a sex pest and a perv. Hitchcock was a stalker and sexual assaulter. He was OBSESSED with Tippi.

    No idea that Hitchcock had a wife either.

    I took a film class in college as an elective and we studied some of Hitcock’s films and he was a brilliant filmmaker. but that does not give him a pass to stalk and abuse actors and do whatever he wants. But in his mind it did.

    The Birds still scares the hell out of me as it did when I was a child. Some of the scenes are obviously superimposed, but he uses that to make it all the more terrifying.

  12. AmelieOriginal says:

    It wasn’t just sexual harassment, it was physical abuse as well. I remember reading about the infamous bedroom scene in The Birds where Tippi Hedren is getting attacked by the birds and forcing their way through the door. I thought omg no way they used live birds for that scene so I researched how the filmed that scene. THEY USED LIVE BIRDS. They tied live birds to her costume pecking her body. Apparently they were supposed to be mechanical but that didn’t happen. All those birds were real! You can read about how grueling that scene was to film, 5 days of bird handlers literally throwing birds at her here: https://people.com/movies/tippi-hedren-hitchcock-abuse-the-birds/ Their beaks were closed shut but it didn’t matter, she finally had a breaking point and a medical doctor had to FORCE Alfred Hitchcock to give Tippi a week off before finishing the rest of the movie. When I learned that I was horrified and realized how much of a monster Hitchcock was, an absolute psychopath.

  13. GR says:

    I used to love Hitchcock’s movies, but I won’t watch them any more, knowing what he did to Hedren.

  14. els says:

    I didn’t know Dakota made insensitive comments about victims before. I didn’t follow the story.

    However, what she said remind us that back then, women were far less protected from abusive men and they didn’t have a voice. Either from Hollywood or just life. I agree with Kaiser on that… I’m glad we’re in a point in life where women or victims of abuse have more power to speak up. It would be impossible or unthinkable for women to speak up.

    • Coco says:

      She made those comments in a article 2 weeks ago, she has no problem when woman voice being silent. You would think after what happened to her grandmother she would be very vocal about abuse.

      • els says:

        I see… Don’t know how to explain, she’s a hypocrit. Some don’t care unless it’s a friend or a relative… That’s just infortunate… i could go on a lengthy note to say some of these celebs love to preach stuff solely for their image but don’t do what they preach. I’m not defending Dakota at all, it’s just… Exhausting. Hypocrisy is everywhere and it’s exhausting. Telling story is the one good thing she did. But that’s it. Don’t know if I make sense.

  15. Chicago says:

    I wonder – I’ve never heard anything from/about Grace Kelly’s experience with Hitch and she was probably his most favorite lead. She did several movies with him and he truly made her a star. Did she escape his clutches somehow? Did she end up just giving in? Did he never actually try with her because of whatever reasons?

    • Sof says:

      I always suspected those stories about old Hollywood stars who “slept with their married directors” or had reputations of being “difficult” were either disguising rape or a type of revenge from the a-holes being rejected by them.

    • Merricat says:

      Grace was a Philly socialite. He did not dare touch her. He was in love with her and resented her rejection, and he took it out on every subsequent blonde.

  16. jferber says:

    Hitchcock’s formula for every movie, he said, was “Torture the woman.” It appears it suited him in real life, too.