Tippi Hedren once appealed to Alfred Hitchcock's wife for help in halting the director's emotional abuse, only to have her request completely snubbed.

The veteran star, who worked with Hitchcock on 1963 classic The Birds and 1964 thriller Marnie, has long maintained the movie mogul became unhealthily obsessed with her and even tried to blackmail her for sex, and when she refused, he set out to wreck her Hollywood career.

Recalling the director's indecent proposal, she tells The New York Times Magazine, "I said, 'I've got to get out of the contract.' He said, 'I'll ruin your career.' And he did. He wouldn't let me out of the contract. I'd be a really big star if he hadn't stopped my career. There were so many people who wanted me for their films. All he said was, 'She isn't available.' That's a mean, mean man."

Hedren is convinced Hitchcock's wife, Alma, knew all about the mental torture he inflicted upon the actress, but she refused to do anything to help: "At one point, she (Alma) came to me during Marnie and said, 'I'm so sorry you have to go through all of this', and I looked at her and said, 'Alma, you could stop it.' Her eyes just glazed over, and she turned and left."

Hedren believes the filmmaker's cruel nature stemmed from a hatred of his own looks.

She adds, "That man was physically so unattractive. I think to have a mind that thought of himself as an attractive, romantic man and then to wake up in the morning and look at that face and that body was tough. I think he had a whole lot of problems."

Hedren's troubled relationship with Hitchcock is explored in new Tv movie The Girl, starring Sienna Miller as the actress and Toby Jones as the director. The biopic will debut on America's HBO network later this year (12).