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Alfred Hitchcock "Ruined" Tippi Hedren's Career, Granddaughter Says

"He terrorized her and was never held accountable," says actor Dakota Johnson.

Actor Tippi Hedren is best known for her work with director Alfred Hitchcock, but in recent years, it's become more and more clear that their relationship was not a positive one. Hedren has claimed that the filmmaker sexually assaulted her. Now, her granddaughter, actor Dakota Johnson, has also spoken out about Hedren's experience working with Hitchcock and claimed that he "ruined" her grandmother's career in retaliation.

Johnson spoke about Hedren and Hitchcock while appearing on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast. The 32-year-old star shared how she feels about her grandmother's claim regarding Hitchcock and the life advice Hedren gave to her and her mother, actor Melanie Griffith.

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Hedren has said that Hitchcock assaulted and threatened her.

Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock at the Cannes Film Festival in 1965
REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Hedren has alleged for years that Hitchcock sexually assaulted her and was controlling of her, including in the 2009 book Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto. In her own book in 2016, Hendren also claimed that Hitchcock sexually assaulted her on the set of their movie Marnie.

"I've never gone into detail on this, and I never will," she wrote in Tippi (via USA Today). "I'll simply say that he suddenly grabbed me and put his hands on me. It was sexual, it was perverse, and it was ugly, and I couldn't have been more shocked and repulsed. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became. Then he started adding threats, as if he could do anything to me that was worse than what he was trying to do at that moment." She also claimed that the director told her, "I'll ruin your career."

Hedren alleges in the book that Hitchcock once "threw himself on top of [her] and tried to kiss [her]" in a limo, and that, on another occasion, "he asked [her] to touch him, and [she'd] resisted the temptation to slap him and just turned and walked away."

Johnson says Hitchcock followed through on his threats.

Tippi Hedren and Dakota Johnson at the premiere of "Suspiria" in 2018
Kathy Hutchins /

In her interview with Awards Chatter, Johnson was asked if her grandmother was encouraging of her getting into acting, considering all that she went through herself.

"She was encouraging," the Fifty Shades of Grey star replied. "And she's always been really honest and firm about standing up for yourself, and that's what she did. Hitchcock ruined her career because she didn't want to sleep with him, and he terrorized her and was never held accountable. 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."

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Hitchcock kept Hedren under contract without putting her in films.

Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963
Bettmann / Getty Images

Hedren and Hitchcock worked together on the movies The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). After Hitchcock threatened to ruin her career, he kept her under contract while not casting her in any movies, according to Variety. Three years passed between Marnie and Hedren's next film role in Charlie Chaplin's A Countess From Hong Kong. 

"When he told me that he would ruin me, I just told him do what he had to do," Hedren, now 91, told Variety in 2017. "I went out of the door and slammed it so hard that I looked back to see if it was still on its hinges."

Hitchcock died in 1980 at age 80.

She passed along what she learned to her daughter and granddaughter.

Dakota Johnson, Tippi Hedren, and Melanie Griffith at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in 2015
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE

Continuing on about Hedren and Hitchcock on the podcast, Johnson said, "It's hard to talk about because she's my grandmother, you know? You don't want to imagine someone taking advantage of your grandmother."

She then added that the 91-year-old film legend wanted Johnson and Griffith to also be strong women. "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 sh*t from anybody,'" Johnson said, adding, "And she would say it far more eloquently, because she's such a glamours movie star still."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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