Actress Jessica Biel says she understands why Vera Miles didn't want to speak to her as she prepared to play the retired Hollywood film icon in "Hitchcock."
Directed by Sacha Gervasi, the movie chronicles the late director Alfred Hitchcock's complicated relationship with his wife, Alma Reville, during the making of "Psycho," his classic 1960 thriller, starring Miles, Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh.
The big-screen adaptation of Stephen Rebello's 1990 book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho,'" casts Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as Reville, James D'Arcy as Perkins and Scarlett Johansson as Leigh.
Talking about how she prepared to play Miles, Biel told reporters in New York recently she understands why the now 83-year-old actress and mother of four wasn't willing to let her pick her brain years after she left the spotlight.
"She wasn't interested in being a star. The way I got into the character was I spoke to her grandson. Vera is alive and she doesn't have a public life -- at all. She's not interested in having a public life and just wasn't interested in speaking to me at all. I didn't think that was an insult in any way," Biel said. "But her grandson was interested."
When the gathered journalists laughed at the notion of the man eagerly agreeing to meet with the beautiful Biel, the actress insisted: "No, no, it wasn't like that! He was very nice and respectful and he's married! He's highly protective of his grandmother and she's someone he loves. And he is probably the best authority on her career and who she is and who she was at that time. But I think in her mind and in his mind, she had a life and her life was exactly what she wanted. She did much theater -- she did lots of parts, lots of interesting characters ... and that was very fulfilling for her."
Asked if she thinks it is easier to balance a high-profile career and quiet home life now than it was in the 1950s and '60s, the 30-year-old wife of singer Justin Timberlake replied: "Is it easier now? Oh, I don't know. I think it's terribly hard now. ... I think it's very challenging to have a private life. That's just my opinion. It's been very hard for me to have any sort of privacy in my life. I get it. It's a balance you have to try and create, but it's very hard. I really would love the days where there was no TMZ or Internet. Even though Google is great, but it can be quite a challenge."
"Hitchcock" is now playing in theaters.