Decades ago, when he found out that François Truffaut let the actors improvise during the filming of ‘Jules et Jim,’ Alfred Hitchcock expressed disbelief. That was because the director wanted complete control of his movies throughout his career and discouraged his actors from going out of script.
Hitchcock believed that actors’ only job was to portray their given characters without changes and even expected them to be ‘treated like cattle,’ as he once told The Dick Cavett Show. He reportedly saw actors on the same level as mannequins and film settings but had one exception to the rule with Cary Grant.
According to biographer Nancy Nelson, before his death, Hitchcock talked about Grant as follows:
“Knowing Cary is the greatest association I’ve had with any film actor. Cary is the only actor I ever loved in my whole life.”
The actor and Hitchcock collaborated for two decades, beginning with ‘Suspicion’ in 1941. They produced four films, including ‘Notorious (1946),’ ‘To Catch A Thief (1955),’ and ‘North By Northwest (1959).’
Grant had already established himself as an actor in comedic roles through projects like ‘Bringing Up Baby’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’ before he collaborated with Hitchcock. But his work with the director turned into a template for modern action films in the following period, although they never reunited after ‘North By Northwest.’
Still, the actor expressed appreciation for the director the way he did for him in different settings. For example, he said Hitchcock treated him ‘kindly’ during a past interview.