Portraying a real person is nothing new to Toby Jones. He starred as Truman Capote in Infamous (2006), super-agent Swifty Lazar in Frost/Nixon (2008) and Karl Rove in W (also 2008). Now, he’s starring as Alfred Hitchcock in HBO’s The Girl, a job that, he told Collider, was “unturndownable.”
Jones was nervous that he wouldn’t be able to accurately depict the director of films like The Birds and Psycho. “He apparently was blank-faced with a calm and controlled presence,” Jones said. “I was immediately anxious and thought, ‘How am I going to get behind that?’ I had the really fascinating job of trying to locate what I thought was actually going on behind the public face, in this life, and locate what was going on in his relationships with the other actors, and how and where I was going to show it.”
“There was a point when my job on Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t going to allow me to do it. I was very upset, but there was also a massive amount of relief because I knew that, in order to play this part, I’d have to do such work to get the voice and everything else. It was going to be a big undertaking that took me to some dark places. So, when they said it was not going to work out with the dates, I put all the books down. I was sad, but there was also an element of relief.”
Luckily, the scheduling conflicts were ironed out, and Jones began his preparations for the role. “It was not the research, but the script [that helped me find my performance],” the actor said. “As he loses control towards the end, and is drinking more and further abusing the relationships he was already abusing, and there’s that moment when he’s driven home while he’s drunk and he talks about not being beautiful and how he’d give anything to be beautiful, was like gold dust, as an actor. That was the lynchpin for me.”
After landing additional roles in landmark franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, Jones admits that he is lucky. “There are many, many good actors,” Jones observed. “There are far more good actors than there are jobs for them, so it’s a big question of luck. On top of that, I’m very fortunate that I get asked to do very different kinds of roles and I realize how much I enjoy that. I enjoy the challenge of transformation. There are actors who play one character, or a certain kind of character, the whole of their lives. I really relish the opportunity to have the challenge to totally transform. But, there’s no question that I’m lucky, absolutely!”
The Girl will continue to air on HBO this month.