She wasn’t steeped in method acting and felt she was too artless and understated to please the reviewers. Novak had already appeared opposite Frank Sinatra in Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), a moody black and white drama about a heroin addict, and she went on to work with Billy Wilder on Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).Sinatra treated her with extreme kindness on The Man with the Golden Arm but was then (she recalls) an utter “cad” on Pal Joey (1957.)“He was so kind and so gentle [on The Man with the Golden Arm].
“I’ve always felt that being a pretty girl was a handicap,” she reflects.
Nonetheless, she turned her back on Hollywood relatively early in her career.
She was a rebellious spirit who liked to dance barefoot and smoke grass – not behaviour the studio bosses approved of.
“I had been raped as a child so I know the feeling. It cost a lot of money to run that ad but I felt it needed to be said.”Tippi Hedren has talked about Alfred Hitchcock’s predatory behaviour toward his actresses. The Hitch she describes was shy and reticent, “a complete gentleman,” who treated her with all due decorum, even if he did make her dive into the freezing water several times for the scene in which James Stewart rescues her from San Francisco Bay.
“I think it has been exaggerated that he made people do things over and over. We were reacting off our feelings.”At the time she made the film, Novak was annoyed she wasn’t allowed to do her own hair and make-up.
She makes clear that being a Hollywood star in the studio era required a ferocious discipline. The rewards were that you learned so much about how to be glamorous, how to dress, how to do make-up, how you presented yourself.