She was coined the “most beautiful girl in the world.” She had the raciest love scene, back in her day. And she was even lured from Paris to the United States by Louis B. Mayer, himself, to become Hollywood’s most stunning star of the silver screen. However, as an “Austrian Jewish émigré — who invented a covert communication system to try and help defeat the Nazis — Hedy gave her patent to the Navy, but was ignored and told to sell kisses for war bonds instead.” During these interesting, agitated times, screen siren’s Hedy Lamarr’s unexpected story reminds us: NOT to underestimate the potential of a woman. So when director Alexandra Dean — and her producer Adam Haggiag — “unearthed four never-before-heard audio tapes of Hedy speaking on the record about her incredible life,” Dean knew that the telling of Hedy’s story could be fantastic, on multiple levels. It could allow the misunderstood Hedy to tell her remarkable, neglected story in her own words, while bringing it to wide audiences; and it could inspire young women to be encouraged to think beyond the box about pursuing studies and careers in math and sciences – something more than often discouraged. Dean attests, “I hope Hedy’s story will inspire young women to see themselves as able to change the world as an inventor, or an innovator.” In Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Alexandra Dean has much to be proud of, in having the one-and-only stunner, Hedy Lamarr, as her film’s brilliant leading lady.
By Lisa Collins.
LISA COLLINS: Hedy Lamarr. Such a phenomenal icon. How is she seen through the lens of your film?
ALEXANDRA DEAN: This is a film that tries to provide redemption for Hedy Lamarr. She’s seen as a fabulously interesting but misunderstood movie star who didn’t manage to make her mark in life the way she wanted… she hoped to become a legend like Marlene Dietrich or her friend Bette Davis, and she thought she missed that chance because none of her films became classics and she ended her life without money or fame, as a recluse. The irony of Hedy’s life is that she DID deserve to be remembered in history… but it was her unlikely hobby as an inventor, inventing weapons to beat Hitler that actually changed the world. This documentary allows Hedy to tell that story in the first person for the first time, and I hope it will make people realize that she was a legend, if not for the reason she thought.
LC: With our political landscape and the renewed energy around feminism it’s birthed, what’s it like to have your movie debut at such a time?
AD: It feels amazing to have this film come out at a moment when people are no longer afraid to call themselves feminists. Hedy’s daughter is proud to say her mother was a feminist, even if she was never called that in her lifetime. Of course, it’s not yet time to pat ourselves on the back and call it a day. Women are not marching the world over because we have reached equality. In fact, the new wave feminism really seems to be about recognizing how far we still have to go. Only a quarter of jobs in lucrative, fast growing STEM fields go to women, and that is partly because young women and girls don’t seem to see themselves as badass inventors or Silicon Valley innovators.
LC: Aside from beauty, as one of the ultimate screen sirens, what did she have ‘above’ the other actresses of her time, if you will?
AD: Hedy was known as “the most beautiful girl in the world.” It was a moniker she received at the age of 15 and it followed her throughout her twenties. But Hedy turned out to have a mind far more complicated and fascinating and really far more beautiful than her face.
LC: What feelings came over you while poring over Hedy’s patent schematics?
AD: Awe. Joy. Inspiration.
LC: Something that would further surprise people to learn about Hedy?
AD: She was not only an inventor, but also one of the first actresses to produce her own films.
LC: Your delight in premiering at TFF?
AD: I cannot express how delighted I am to have this opportunity to premiere here at TFF in my hometown of New York with all my gang here cheering me on! It makes me so happy!