We caught up with The Birds star to chat fame, Alfred Hitchcock and animal activism.
The birds are flying over Tippi Hedren's head—again. Ravens, to be more specific.
The 88-year-old screen siren giggles as she describes the scene at The Shambala Preserve, the animal sanctuary in Acton, California which Hedren calls home. "The animals are being fed right now," she observes over the phone as she looks out the floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the sanctuary. "I wish you could see the flock of ravens that are flying around my house right now. They are swooping down to steal the meat from the lions and tigers. Oh! They're flying over my house now!"
At this point, Hedren breaks into a fit of laughter. "It's really funny to see. I guess I just have a weird sense of humour."
Hedren has a lot to smile about these days. From the cathartic release of her memoir, Tippi (in which she details the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of director Alfred Hitchcock) to her ongoing animal activism, Hedren is enjoying the time spent out of the limelight and surrounded by her beloved lions and tigers.
Yes, the Hollywood icon lives a quiet life with some of the world's most dangerous animals in order to provide them with a sanctuary in which they can recover from years of neglect and abuse at the hands of former owners. Hedren also lends her support to The Roar Foundation's mission to deter people from buying, selling or breeding exotic felines. Even the proceeds from her memoir go directly to the foundation. "[Shambala] is a beautiful place and the animals have a huge space to live; they're not in little cages," she says.
It was after she skyrocketed to fame with starring roles in The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964)— two back-to-back Hitchcock masterpieces—that Hedren narrowed her sights on the plight of lions after a life-altering experience filming 1969's Satan's Harvest in Africa. Hedren and then-husband, Hollywood agent Noel Marshall, watched as a pride of lions took over an abandoned house and were immediately inspired to make a film about a family who are attacked by various jungle animals. The resulting movie, 1981's Roar, (likened to a sort of "Jaws of the Jungle" by critics) was both a box office and financial failure—yet it remains the one film on Hedren's filmography of which she is most proud. "I look at that movie now and I'm simply grateful we survived," she says.
Hedren spent 11 years bringing Roar to the screen. The film, considered one of the most dangerous movies ever made, became notorious for the amount of life-threatening injuries endured by the cast and crew during production, including Hedren (who sustained a gash to the throat) and her then-teenage daughter, Melanie Griffith, who suffered numerous injuries. But ask Hedren about the film today and she says she wouldn't change a thing. "It served its purpose," she says matter-of-factly.
Forget the glamour of Hollywood, the award shows and the tabloid gossip: All things considered, Hedren sees herself, first and foremost, as an activist.
We recently caught up with the Hollywood star to talk fame, Hitchcock and her animal activism. Click through to the next page for the full Q&A.
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