THE TIMES: INTERVIEW WITH JOHN LOGAN, WRITER OF DOUBLE FEATURE
Posted on 13 February 2024.
Posted in: Announcements
The Gladiator and Bond scriptwriter spent a decade researching his new play Double Feature, about the abusive relationship between the director Alfred Hitchcock and his star actress Tippi Hedren.
As a young man, long before he became one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood, John Logan adored Alfred Hitchcock. He taught himself how to write by studying the scripts to Psycho and North by Northwest. Now, though, after ten years working on a play that shows Hitchcock as a vindictive sexual predator, he finds the films a struggle.
“I wish I could separate the artist from the man,” he says, sitting in the offices of the Hampstead Theatre in north London, where his play Double Feature is about to open. “But that’s very challenging, because I’ve spent so much time writing this. So much of the past ten years has been about going into the darkest part of his psyche. When I watch Hitchcock now, that’s all I see. I wish I could just put on that grey suit with Cary Grant in North by Northwest like I used to.”
Double Feature is also the story of another abusive relationship. In 1968 the horror star Vincent Price clashed with Michael Reeves, the 24-year-old English director of Witchfinder General. In Logan’s script, Price complains that Reeves has spent weeks humiliating him in front of cast and crew in an attempt to get a more realistic performance. He threatens to walk. Reeves retorts with abusive put-downs: he is a “smirking fake of a jobbing hack actor”.
Growing up in San Pedro, California, the son of parents from Belfast, Logan was a huge horror fan. He loved Price for his grandiose performances, so when he saw him do something more subdued in Witchfinder General he wondered where it came from. Like Hedren’s performance in Marnie, he discovered, it came from somewhere deeply uncomfortable.
His first idea was to tell these “voluminously researched” parallel tales separately, one in each half. Then he decided to tell them simultaneously, “something you could only do in theatre".
Double Feature plays the main stage until 16 March.