Dakota Johnson recalls 'alarming' gift Alfred Hitchcock gave her mother, Melanie Griffith, as a child
"What happened with my grandmother was horrific because Hitchcock was a tyrant," Griffith's daughter, Dakota Johnson, said in a recent Vanity Fair cover story. "He was talented and prolific — and important in terms of art — but power can poison people."
She told the publication that her family felt the sting of Hitchcock's venom throughout their lives, notably a morbid Christmas gift the Psycho helmer reportedly gave to Griffith when she was a child: A tiny replica of Hedren in a miniature coffin.
"It's alarming and dark and really, really sad for that little girl," Johnson said of her mother. "Really scary."
Hedren's professional relationship with Hitchcock was dramatized in the 2012 HBO movie The Girl, with Sienna Miller portraying Hedren and Toby Jones starring as Hitchcock during the production of The Birds in the early 1960s. The Julian Jarrold-directed project touched on the toxicity of the pair's time together, which was widely reported to have involved predatory obsession and subsequent torment that had a negative impact on Hedren's future work.
Johnson said she attended a screening of the film with Hedren, which left a lasting impression on her.
"We sat at HBO, my family, and watched that movie together," Johnson said. "It was one of those moments where you're just like, how could you not have warned us? We're in a room with some execs. Maybe this warranted a little conversation beforehand? You look over and you see a woman who's just been reminded of everything she went through, and it was heartbreaking. She was an amazing actress and he stopped her from having a career." (EW has reached out to Johnson for clarification on the screening as well as HBO for comment.)
In a 2012 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live — which is available to watch on the Internet Archive — Griffith confirmed getting the doll Johnson referenced in the Vanity Fair story, which she said was wearing "the green suit and the hair in the french twist" that Hedren wore in The Birds.
"Can you imagine the psychological effect?" she asked Kimmel. "[Hitchcock] was really weird. He was a really weird guy."
She went on to tell Kimmel about The Girl, but called it a "really wonderful" project.