“Actors are cattle!”

Hitchcock’s ideal actor was someone who could hit the marks, deliver the lines, and do the job without much feedback from him. Actors were hired because he believed they could play the role. Sometimes this reticence worried actors used to receiving positive as well as negative reinforcement from their directors, but almost all of his actors came to realize that this lack of feedback was actually a supreme expression of confidence.

I never said all actors are cattle, what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.

Jimmy Stewart: “Mr. Hitchcock did not say actors are cattle. He said they should be treated like cattle.”

Patricia Hitchcock O’Connel

The daughter of Alfred Hitchcock recently spoke about the restoration of Vertigo and about her father to HBO Entertainment News in New York:

We’re always asked the same old question – why did he say actors are cattle? He said, “I didn’t say actors are cattle, I said actors should be treated as cattle”! This thing about, is he really sadistic on the set? His sets were wonderful. Because he’d already made that movie. He knew what that movie was going to look like. He took a finished script, then drew every shot. So that when he stepped on that set, he knew exactly what that was going to look like. He never looked through a camera.

Kim Novak

The star of Vertigo also spoke to HBO Entertainment News at the New York premiere of restored film in early October:

(…)I feel that it showed more of me than anything. I feel I was also allowed the most freedom I’ve ever had, by Alfred Hitchcock, who supposedly treats actors like cattle. It was a great experience to have someone who really knew about the technical part, and allow me the freedom to bring something to it. So I feel I was allowed to do my best work in some way. (…)

It seems the Master of Suspense whether really treated his actors like cattle or not, they liked to work for him and with him.


Questions arise:

1. Why did Hitchcock say that?

2. Why did he change the sentence? Did he mean to hurt someone?

3. What are actors opinion about Hitchcock’s quote?

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcockhttp://94dockingbay.blogspot.com/2005/08/actors-are-cattle-alfred-hitchcock.html

http://www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/smith/vertigo/

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