Sienna Miller | Interview
Miller is The Girl—and now her own woman.
For The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock found his girl, as he called his leading blonds, in Tippi Hedren, an unknown actress with a modeling background. In HBO’s new film The Girl, based on the biography Spellbound by Beauty, Hitch (Toby Jones) subjects Hedren to his menacing advances. HBO found its “girl” in Sienna Miller. A decade ago, the then-unknown actress with a modeling background became the subject of tabloid fodder. Speaking by phone, Miller, 30, had just flown from London to New York for the Hamptons film fest.
There’s a resonance between Tippi Hedren’s experiences and your own: She was an object of Hitchcock’s infatuation and harassment; you were stalked and chased by paparazzi.
I never thought about it in that sense. Maybe subconsciously the experience of harassment was helpful, but it’s nothing that I specifically drew on. I just religiously watched The Birds and Marnie and spoke to Tippi as often as I could.
Another parallel involves her naïveté and your own: You’ve said you were naive to think that, with this career, your life could stay the same.
Yeah, I was naive. Fame—which I hate talking about and I hate the word—nothing can prepare you for that, and in my own experience it happened overnight because of the relationship that I was in [with Jude Law]. Nobody knew who I was, and then I had photographers outside my house the following day. And I never had the opportunity to figure out who I wanted to be publicly. So, being 21, I just carried on being myself. I’m glad I didn’t compromise myself, but it fueled attention I really was rejecting. I just didn’t respond very well to it.
Yet that’s how you developed your name and fame. Is there a sense that it helps to a certain extent, hurts beyond that, and there’s the trick of trying to control where that line is?
A certain amount of publicity is probably initially helpful, but the publicity that I was receiving, and the negative publicity of the tabloid culture within England, was not helpful, because the more people feel like they know you, whether that portrayal is who you are or not, the more difficult it is for them to believe you as a character.
Do you feel then that you’ve arrived yet as an actor or that you’re proving it with The Girl?
I used to get stressed out about trying to analyze it and control it. I suppose I stopped worrying about perception. I now have the space at home without that kind of attention to focus on what’s important, which is my family and my work.
You must have more space since settling with the News of the World for hacking your cell.
It changed a while before. I got an injunction against paparazzi. But yeah, the News of the World stuff, it’s lovely that that’s dead and buried now.
How’s being a new parent [with actor Tom Sturridge]?
It’s a huge and wonderful change. Your capacity for love increases enormously.
Your daughter’s name, Marlowe Ottoline—
I love being a mum, but there’s not an awful lot I want to say publicly about it.
Did the film, which really depicts Hitchcock as a monster, change your view of his work?
No. There’s no debate his work is extraordinary, and it’s clear that he was a misogynist throughout his films, so I wasn’t shocked to hear the stories.
As Hedren, you convey independence and self-possession even as she’s victimized.
That’s just very much who Tippi is as a woman. That’s apparent when you spend time with her.
Is it also who you are as a woman?
I’m kind of an independent person and I can be self-possessed, but I can be the opposite as well.
How do you describe yourself? In the tabloids, you come across in a way you don’t now.
What do you mean?
The stories of the wild party girl.
I know, but I don’t think they’re valuable sources of information.
That’s why I ask how do you—
I’m probably more cautious of all kind of media because of the experiences that I’ve had.
You do seem cautious.
Well, it’s a big question, what am I like. I’ve had to deal with for a long time being portrayed as a certain thing, and the only way to deal with it is to not fuel it by giving out anything that’s too personal. The interview with you is not just with you, it’s with every online, irresponsible outlet, and things just get taken out of context, and I just, I don’t know. I’m probably really tired and being boring for you. I’m sorry. [Laughs] I’m knackered and jet-lagged. We’re having a horrible interview.
I can imagine the pressure of feeling like everything you say is broadcast to the world.
Well, that’s it. [This interview,] as you will see, will be regurgitated and twisted. I suppose I feel more protective of everything because I’m a new mum.
Is there something you can say, then, that would be a corrective to all that?
A corrective to what, that I’m a party girl? I don’t feel the need to justify anything anymore. And I’ve been pregnant for a year, so I don’t feel very connected to any reputation or judgment of people.
So what’s up for you after The Girl?
My never-ending feeding schedule for my [Laughs] three-month-old daughter. I’m loving it, but it’s knackering being a mum.
The Girl premieres October 20 on HBO.