Cary Grant was one of Hitchcock’s favorite actors and his go-to protagonist. Roger Thornhill was the last of Hitchcock’s protagonists that Grant would play and in just five more years, he would retire from acting forever. Grant's suave persona as a smooth operator allowed him to hit just the right notes in his performance. His comic mania and expressive capacities make otherwise bleak and terrifying scenes comic, and his subtlety in his scenes with Eva Maria Saint fill the central love story with a striking sexual frankness. His performance is one of contradictions: suave and goofy, comic and confused, sexy and cool.
Cary Grant was a definitive Hollywood leading man, but never won an acting Oscar award, until he was presented with an honorary one by Frank Sinatra in 1970.
Eva Marie Saint
One of the very coolest of Hitchcock’s heroines, Eva Marie Saint never played another role quite like Eve Kendall. She was famous for her serious acting chops, her commitment to "Method acting" and her role opposite Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's On theWaterfront, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Eve Kendall's simmering sexuality and playful chemistry with Roger Thornhill is a far cry from Saint's character in On the Waterfront. Over her long career, Saint has won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Primetime Emmy Award.
James Mason was a British actor, famous for his roles in films such as Lolita, A Star is Born, Julius Caesar, Georgy Girl, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Verdict, and others. He was nominated three times for an Academy Award, and won a Golden Globe for his performance in A Star is Born. He played a wide-range of characters throughout his career, not just villains, but his soft-spoken and gentle portrayal of Vandamm in North by Northwest exemplifies his extraordinary range and complexity as a performer.
Martin Landau, a successful Hollywood actor, asked Hitchcock during filming if he could characterize Leonard as in love with Vandamm. Hitchcock agreed to the idea, and another deviant onscreen homosexual was born.
Jessie Royce Landis
Interestingly enough, Landis was only seven years older than Cary Grant when she played his mother. A stage actress for most of her career, Landis appeared in Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, in addition to North by Northwest.
Leo G. Carroll
Carroll was an English actor who appeared in numerous Hitchcock films as well as on television.
North by Northwest Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for North by Northwest is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.