An interview at WGA.org with Hitchcock screenwriter John McLaughlin. Some excerpts:
How do you deal with portraying real and sometimes iconic characters where an audience is bringing so much into the movie?
The good thing is we had Steve Rebello, who knew a lot of stuff he couldn’t put in the book, which he was willing to share. You try and get in your head the idea of someone as a human being. You want to include the iconic stuff, but you want to humanize them. When Hitchcock was making Psycho, he was sifting Ed Gein [the character on which Norman Bates was based] through his own mind, through the things that drive him personally. Essentially, I was doing the same thing. I can only imagine what it’s like to be Hitchcock, but I know I’m a human being, that I have troubles, and maybe I’m an aging artist and things aren’t going well, and you just try and make it human and not fall into a trap that a lot of biographies do, which is only using quotes from people, or things they wrote in letters. If you can get inside their character then you can write dialogue for them.
You’ve written scripts about Harry Houdini and Charles Lindbergh; is there a point where you get comfortable owning the characters?
Yes. That’s exactly it. You have to not worry about what people will think. I could worry all day about someone suing me, or saying, “Hey, he never said that!” But I’ve got to try and live in a person’s mind for little while, which is fun to do. It is a responsibility and is full of pitfalls.
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