“Hitchcock” Realness Check: Grading ScarJo, Helen Mirren, and More in the New “Psycho” Story

The new movie Hitchcock, which tells the behind-the-scenes story from Psycho and is slated for official release on November 23, is just too intriguing to resist. With big name actors filling the shoes of the 1960 classic’s iconic movie stars, I’m psyched to see if my old-Hollywood nostalgic fix will be sated. Because you know what sucked? The Artist. I’m still burned by how plain that was.

Since today’s Halloween — and a new “masterpiece” collection of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic films, including Psycho, is out on Blu-Ray — let’s take a closer look at the actors playing actors (or Hitchcock associates) in this movie. All resemblances and “realness” will be graded on a 1-10 scale.

Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh

Score: 8

I’ll be the first to admit I can’t believe how much Ms. Johansson is pulling Leigh off, at least in this photo. The face shape, nose shape, lip shape, eye shape, eyebrow shape, and hair shape are all congruent. That said, there’s an element of sternness — a Jamie Lee Curtis focus, if you will — to Janet Leigh’s demeanor, and I’m not really seeing that in ScarJo.

James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins

Score: 9

Let me be clear: There is no better visual choice to play Anthony Perkins than James D’Arcy. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I interviewed his W.E. costar Andrea Riseborough last year, I noted how much D’Arcy looked like Perkins (before he was cast in this movie), and Riseborough cheekily noted she’d email him to tell him. All I can say is I hope I’m indirectly responsible for his casting in this movie, because the facial features and near-inimitable Perkins nervousness are there. Just one quibble: We need to do something about that hairline. It draws attention to the fact that D’Arcy, now 37, is nearly a decade older than Perkins was at the time of Psycho‘s filming.

Jessica Biel as Vera Miles

Score: 7

I’m curious as to how much Vera Miles will factor into the story of Hitchcock, because her bumpy past with the director (including leaving Vertigo when she was pregnant, filming the near-forgotten The Wrong Man with him, and losing all chemistry with him thereafter) is enough material for its own movie. Biel certainly has the bone structure to pull off a passing resemblance, but she’s also a very distinct-looking actress with eyes and lips more suited to play Carly Simon than Vera Miles. But hey: That scream mouth is pretty dead-on!

Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock

Score: 6

He’s a better fit than Toby Jones in The Girl, and more importantly, he embodies the director’s legendary drollness (at least if the trailer’s any indication). Clearly there are some visual discrepancies, but in this instance, the realness is in the voice and demeanor. Hopkins has those down.

Helen Mirren as Alma Reville

Score: 4

Here’s an instance where The Girl got it right: Imelda Staunton‘s resemblance to Hitchcock’s longtime wife Alma just obliterates Mirren’s. It’s sort of a non-issue since Alma wasn’t an iconic movie star, but Mirren’s stature and knowing grin are just a world away from Alma’s apparent sweetness. A younger Mirren, however, would’ve been a pretty good fit to play Barbara Bel Geddes in a Vertigo re-telling.

Are you excited for this movie? I want it all, and now. We all go a little mad sometimes, but I’ll go forever insane if this turns out to be a dud.

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