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OTRC: Anthony Hopkins' shocking transformation for 'Hitchcock' (Photo)

Alfred Hitchcock appears on the set of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents.' / Anthony Hopkins appears in a promotional photo for 'Hitchcock.' (Gabi Rona / MPTV / Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Sir Anthony Hopkins debuts his striking Alfred Hitchcock transformation for "Hitchcock," which began filming this month.

Principal photography for the film began on April 13 in Los Angeles. In the photo, which was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Hopkins bears a striking resemblance to the influential director, who died in 1980.

Hopkins has been attached to the project for five years and says the legendary filmmaker was "a very interesting man, very strange guy, very dark man."

The film, formerly known as "Alfred Hitchock And The Making Of Psycho," is touted as a biographical comedy-drama that presents a behind-the-scenes look at the film, which was marred with controversy due to complaints about violence, nudity and other sexual content and claims that a body double was used in Leigh's place during the shower murder scene. It will also focus on Hitchcock's relationship with his wife Alma Reville, who will be played by Dame Helen Mirren.

The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, who will play Janet Leigh, who portrayed Marion Crane in the Oscar-nominated 1960 thriller. James D'Arcy will play Leigh's co-star, Anthony Perkins, who played murderer Norman Bates in the original film.

The movie is tentatively set for release in 2013 and will be directed by Sacha Gervasi, a UK-born former documentary filmmaker who co-wrote films such as "Henry's Crime" and "The Terminal."

The script is based on a 1990 book by Stephen Rebello, who also serves as executive producer, and was co-written by John J. McLaughlin, who co-penned the 2010 thriller "Black Swan." Revisions on the script were done by "Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy, Stephen Rebello and Sacha Gervasi. The other producers are Ivan Reitman, Tom Pollock and Joe Medjuck of Montecito Pictures, as well as Tom Thayer and Alan Barnette.

Hitchcock, who died at age 80 in 1980, and Leigh were nominated for Oscars for "Psycho," which earned four Academy Award nods. Perkins died at age 60 in 1992. He reprised his role as Bates in three sequels.

Hopkins won an Oscar for his role as the cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 thriller "The Silence of the Lambs." The Welsh actor reprised his part in the 2001 sequel, "Hannibal," and the 2002 prequel, "Red Dragon."

Fox Searchlight had no immediate response to whether Hopkins gained weight to portray Hitchcock or whether he will wear a fat suit for the role of the portly director.

Hopkins, who lost 75 pounds in 2010, joked last year that he was worried about having to put on weight for another role as Winston Churchill in Angelina Jolie's film project, "Churchill and Roosevelt."

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