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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Anthony Hopkins's letter to Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston

The full text of Anthony Hopkins's fan letter to Bryan Cranston, calling his performance in Breaking Bad 'the best acting I have seen - ever'

Dear Mister Cranston,

I've just finished a marathon of watching 'BREAKING BAD' – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing. I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant! Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I've sort of lost belief in anything really. But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers... every department – casting etc... managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance... The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence. You and all the cast are the best actors I've ever seen. That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It's almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Anthony Hopkins Gushes Over 'Breaking Bad' Star Bryan Cranston in Fan Letter

"Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen -- ever," Hopkins writes.
Anthony Hopkins and Bryan Cranston  Getty Images
Count Anthony Hopkins among the legions of Breaking Bad fans who couldn’t get enough of the show.

Just over two weeks after the AMC drama aired its series finale, a letter surfaced that Hopkins wrote to star Bryan Cranston, in which he gushes over the actor's performance. Hopkins says he just finished watching a marathon of all five seasons of the show (he refers to a sixth season, but the fifth season was actually split into two).

"A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing," he writes. "I have never watched anything like it.

Brilliant! Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen -- ever. I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really. But this work of yours is spectacular -- absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production."

Hopkins also goes on to praise the rest of the cast as well, and asks Cranston to "pass on my admiration to everyone."

"Everyone gave master classes of performance," he writes.

He also praises the Vince Gilligan-created show's overall arc and storytelling.

"From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell," he writes. "It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian [sic] or Greek Tragedy."

The letter first surfaced over the weekend on Breaking Bad co-star Steven Michael Quezada's Facebook page, according to Gawker, but the post has since been deleted, as has a tweet he wrote about the letter. But The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Hopkins is indeed the author and that the letter is authentic.

The Breaking Bad series finale aired Sept. 29, drawing a record 10.3 million viewers.

While many in Hollywood tweeted their enthusiasm for the show and especially the series finale, Oliver Stone and Britney Spears recently expressed their displeasure with the events of the final episode.

Read Hopkins' full letter below.

Dear Mister Cranston.

I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency.

I’ve just finished a marathon of watching “BREAKING BAD” – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.

Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen.

That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The story of my dissolute, lonely, useless young life (and why it was the making of me), by Sir Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins has a fine, sunny bearing about him. He dresses sunnily - cream linen suit, lilac pocket handkerchief, yellow Converse shoes, striped socks - and lives sunnily, too: being by the white sands of Malibu beach, where he has his home with his third wife, agrees with him. Here to publicise his new film, a taut and gripping update of the horror classic The Wolfman, he looks up from his breakfast and announces he is happy.
'I don't need to prove myself any more. It's different now because I don't give a damn what anyone thinks.'
Aside from the film he has also begun work on his long-awaited memoirs. 
'I've written 50 pages so far. It's a humorous look at all my ineptness and woeful incompetence in everything I did as a young man, how I couldn't cope and so became an actor.' And indeed it is; what happens over the course of our meeting is his recitation of chunks of his memories, all freshly mined.

self-pity, and make sense of his bright mood - look at him now, and look at where he once was. 
There's the early 'Dumbo' years in Port Talbot (also Richard Burton's home town), his lonely childhood, the brutality he encountered at school, his uselessness at work, in the Army and (he insists) on the stage.
It's like an exploration of the actor's own dark side - the roots of those iconic, powerful and complex characters like Hannibal Lector and Sir John Talbot in The Wolfman. But Hopkins argues 'it was all magic, pure gold.' 
He says it was the making of him as a man and an actor, calling his childhood 'fantastic'. 'It's not "poor me" at all,' he urges. 'It was all good stuff.''
Then he begins his narrative in an oddly matter-of-fact, almost cheerful voice. 
'I wasn't popular as a child. I never played with any of the other kids, and I didn't have any friends. I wanted to be left alone all through my school years. I've felt like an outsider all my life. It comes from my mother, who always felt like an outsider in my father's family. She was a powerful woman and she motivated my father. 
'After the war she said to him: "You've got to buy a shop and you've got to buy a phone." But my father's mother said: "Oh, very grand ideas, haven't we?" My mother felt rejected and I took that rejection and carried it with me.
'I was called Dumbo, like the elephant, as a child because I couldn't understand things at school,' he says. 'My grandfather, my father's father, told my mother, "Tony's got a big head, pity there's nothing in it, unlike Bobby" - my cousin - "who is brilliant." My mum hated him for saying that. She never forgave him.
'The teachers would slap me about the head. But that was all part and parcel of school at the time. I was hauled before the headmaster, who said there was something wrong with me. My teacher twisted my ear till it broke and said, "You are only fit to grease your father's bread tins," because I didn't understand arithmetic.
'I told my father and he took me to see this teacher and said, "If you bloody hit my son again, if you lay a finger on my boy, I'll pulverise you, I'll swing for you." My father was a pretty hot-tempered guy, but I'd never heard him swear before. He said to me after that, "You've got to toughen up. Never walk away from a fight. Learn to stand up for yourself." He bought me some weights and chest-expanders. I built up barrelchested muscles and I was never bullied again. 
'I loved all that. You either get over it or you don't - it's like those people who go, "Oh I was molested." You can either gripe about it or you can turn it into a tremendous victory or triumph.
[caption]
'People who feel they are entitled to something make me angry, too. Beware the tyranny of the weak. They just suck you dry. They're always complaining. I go, "How are you doing?" They say "Ahh..." and they moan and try to take from you. I know a number of people like that, but I can't waste my time on them.'
Encouraged by his father, Hopkins began his own education at home. 
'I remember the day it started, one Tuesday when I was a little boy. I had been to the dentist to have a tooth out, and in those days they yanked teeth out. The dentist gave me gas and when I got back to the house I was lying in bed feeling nauseous - I woke up and there was a knock at the door downstairs; my mother answered it and came upstairs to my room with a big cardboard box full of children's encyclopedias. My father had bought them because he had given up on me ever learning anything in school. I was still groggy but I remember opening these books and the sepia photographs and the smell of the paper.
'There were chapters called Earth And Its Neighbours and The Planetary Systems and chapters about geological time-zones. I couldn't add two and two together but I knew the height of the Empire State Building and I knew the distance from the Earth to the Moon. I started learning about the lives of the great composers and the lives of the great artists and the poets.
'I taught myself general knowledge, stuff that the other kids didn't know. I was reading Trotsky's History Of The Russian Revolution at Cowbridge Grammar School when I was 14. I remember someone saying: "You're a commie, are you?" I didn't know what they were talking about. The book was taken away from me. Then some kids called me "Bolshie" and I went completely into myself. I did feel lonely, but I look back on it all as a tremendous gift.
'My father's father used to take cold baths, and he was a vegetarian, a non-drinker and a non-smoker. He used to box and he would spar with me. He was a baker like my father, but he was a remarkable, self-educated man, pugilistic. I was brought up in a tough household. 
[caption]
'I wasn't close to my dad's father but I really respected and admired him because he fought all his life. He was a rabid Marxist. He used to say, "One day we'll see the red flag flying over Buckingham Palace." He was there with the firebrands of revolution and my father was brought up like that. Then after the war he became disillusioned and just said, "Look after number one."'
For the young Hopkins, feelings of inadequacy continued throughout his teens. 'I felt like the village idiot because I couldn't do anything right. I worked at the Steel Company Of Wales when I was 17. My job was to supply tools to the guys working the blast furnaces. I would look at the chits and I'd always choose the wrong thing, and the foreman would say to me, "What the hell is the matter with you? Can't you do anything right?" He'd say, "Go and make me a cup of tea." Then, "No. Don't even do that because you'll blow us all up."
'I knew I wasn't stupid. I was very bright, very clever, but it took me many years to believe that.' 
Hopkins with his father, Richard (left); and in the army (right)
Fear of failure haunted him for years. 
'I didn't know what time of day it was when I was in the Army. I was trained as a clerk at Woolwich Clerical School - my marks were bad, but for some reason I was chosen to work in the central office. So there I was, sitting in the nerve centre of the battalion, but I couldn't type, couldn't do anything. Staff Sergeant Ernie Little said to me, 'I've been watching you - how and why did I give you this job?" I said, "I don't know." So he said, "Get out - go and make me a cup of tea and get some cigarettes." Then he said, "When do you go on leave?" I said, "Two weeks." And he said, "Thank God for that!" 'But I seemed to land on my feet all the time. I came out of the Army in 1960 and thought, now what do I do? I joined a small theatre company, but I was fired from that because I had no discipline. So I went to Rada, did two years there, came out in 1963 and started in regional repertory theatre. It took me many more years to learn about discipline.'
Among Hopkins's many theatre productions were several with Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre, but he claims he never enjoyed the work.
'There was nothing wrong with theatre, it was OK,' he says. 'Olivier was electrifying, and I admired (John) Gielgud and (Ralph) Richardson and (Paul) Scofield, but I didn't have their tenacity. I got bored very quickly. 
'The most reckless thing I did was walk out of Macbeth mid-run at the National Theatre in 1973. People were furious with me, but it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I decided that I wasn't cut out for the theatre at all. I wasn't good at Shakespeare and I didn't fit in. I felt greasy and dirty.
'People said, "You can't leave the theatre," but I wanted a different life. The stage is boring. I look at my contemporaries like Judi Dench and they are much more skilled than me. Judi said the best part about doing a play is getting the phone call from the director - "They want me, this is it! This is it!
'But then the reviews come out and you think, "God, I've got another nine weeks of this with the same routine: Can I have my keys to the dressing room? "Yes." Any mail? "No." And you go on stage and there's traffic outside and then cheery dressers come in saying, "Cup of tea?"... How about a nice open razor?'
[caption]
The tedium he experienced touring Britain in repertory theatre and living in seedy lodgings was compounded by an addiction to alcohol. And while his contemporaries like Michael Caine and Terence Stamp were revelling in wild parties, mixing with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Hopkins found the entire decade depressing.
'I hated the Sixties,' he shouts. 'It was one long wet Wednesday afternoon in the Waterloo Road. For most of it I was drinking myself into oblivion. I was living in an awful bedsit on the Edgware Road, then another in Tufnell Park and another God knows where - Finchley? 
'I remember grey miserable nights. I was in a coma for most of it, so I missed the whole decade, including the Beatles, completely. I would drink about eight pints a night - I remember being in Liverpool on those drizzly evenings in the pub, getting the last drop in. I drank a lot, but I wouldn't have missed it. I look back on it as sort of dreary enjoyment, because I don't have to be there any more. Most of the people were miserable and they're all dead and gone now. They were nasty and vicious, I never got close to any of them.'
Hopkins made his film debut in The Lion In Winter with Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole 40 years ago, turning his back on the theatre altogether. Is it true that Olivier told him not to go into movies? 
'Yeah,' he laughs, 'and in the end that's all he wanted to do: make movies.'
Happier by far on film sets, Hopkins split from his first wife, Petronella Barker, in 1972 (their daughter Abigail is now 41) and married his second wife, Jenni Lynton, the following year, but the drinking continued. 
'I would show up on movie sets after drinking and not sleeping. I made a terrible film called The Looking Glass War in 1968. I had a scene with Ralph Richardson in the back of a car that I don't even remember doing because I was so drunk. I caught the film on TV recently - I got the lines right but they sounded a bit muzzy.
'I did the series of War And Peace in Yugoslavia in 1972 and we all got smashed the whole time drinking Vignac, which is a coarse brandy. It was a lot of fun getting smashed and smoking cigarettes on location. I loved smoking more than drinking. But I enjoyed the combination of both.
'I had some bizarre nights with Peter when we made The Lion In Winter, but to be honest I don't remember them. He enjoyed his drink - and I did, too. We weren't close friends or anything but we got drunk very quickly and there was always amusement and laughter. I love drunks; they are terrific - except when they throw up on you.
'I was a horrible human being when I was young, I didn't like myself. When you're young and famous, you're kind of nasty. You're arrogant, you want this, you want that and there's a sense of expectation and entitlement. I was a general pain to everyone. 
'Over the years I worked with a couple of younger actors who reminded me of myself. I like bad boys. I worked with Russell Crowe in Australia before he became a star. Russell is a bad boy. I think he is terrific. Richard Burton was a bad boy, but he shook the rafters of the world. I think it is good to be bad - I was bad all my life. I still am.
[caption]
'What made me stop drinking was not remembering where I'd been the night before,' says Hopkins, who has been sober for 34 years. 
'One day I just thought, "I've had enough of this". It was simple. I didn't want to go on feeling bad. I don't miss drinking, not at all. I don't want to ever go back there. Now I just love English tea and digestive biscuits or Hobnobs.'
He enjoys visiting England and Wales and admits to a nostalgic fondness for his roots. 
'I don't wear dark glasses or any disguise when I go back to London. Taxi drivers go: "Hey Tony, I saw you on TV last night." I like it when you get into a cab and the driver says: "How you doing? It's nice to see you back." I love all that.'
But America, for Hopkins, is home. Part of the appeal has always been the vast expanse of land, the open road. 
'I get into the car and just drive,' he says. 'I always stay in motels - I love American breakfasts, all the bad stuff, full of cholesterol. For me, that's the great romance. A Holiday Inn when you're driving through Wyoming and Montana when it's cold is wonderful. I usually wear sunglasses and a hat and I sign in and they say, "Aren't you Hannibal Lecter?" And they're surprised. I have a couple of photographs taken and we have a coffee together, it's a lot of fun.
'I love getting up in the morning, not knowing where I'm going. I just follow the road. I love the smell of coffee shops and calling into strange towns, finding a motel in Boise, Idaho at five o'clock in the evening with long evening shadows coming in. I don't know what it is. There's a wonderful solitude in America.'
Hopkins puts his phenomenal career down to luck rather than any intrinsic talent. 
'I'm just a fluke - I've never really considered myself a great actor at all. I like making independent movies where you don't have to cart around vast armies of people, for what they call "maintenance". 
'I think that's what's killing the business. Some actors turn up on the set with 15 people and they all have to have trailers. Come on, you're an actor - what the hell do you need a gym on the set for? They bring trainers and they bring their wives and their babies, their minders, their nannies. The actors are lost in the middle of all this.'
With his sunny disposition, Hopkins couldn't be more Californian, despite his 1993 knighthood, which he shrugs off: 'They come up to me and call me "Sir",' he laughs, 'but I always tell everyone, "Just call me Tony." It makes people nervous of you, so why live like that? Getting the knighthood was a big deal I suppose, although it makes me feel a little uncomfortable in America, because they get it wrong, they call me "Sir Hopkins". But Americans love that stuff.'
For relaxation, his preferred hobbies are painting and music. 
'I don't have any skill as an artist but I love painting,' he says. 'I paint in acrylics on photographic paper and with special felt-tip brushes and pens. There's a gloss and shine. I paint landscapes. I love it, I have a studio at home. People pay a lot of money for my paintings. I don't know why - they love the colour, I think. I use vivid colour. I don't know how much they sell for these days. My wife's in charge of all that.
'I still find acting enjoyable but there are no challenges left for me. None at all. But the less interested I am, the more they keep offering me roles. It's nice to just keep going. I think you get to a stage when you just relax and become very "zenned" out.
'Spencer Tracy once said to Laurence Olivier: "Who do you think you are?" And he was right - if I stopped acting tomorrow, the world would not stop. At the end of the day, it is all unimportant.'





THE WOLFMAN: HOW I BECAME A MONSTER

Anthony Hopkins is the monstrous Sir John Talbot in a new remake of the 1941 werewolf classic, The Wolfman. He is cold and Machiavellian as the chillingly unemotional English aristocrat who abandoned his son (played in the film by Benicio Del Toro) as a child and now lives in the isolation of his decaying mansion in the wilds of the English countryside.
The £55 million production is a much more lavish - and scarier - version of the original film, which starred Lon Chaney Jr as the lycanthrope and Claude Rains as his father. While Chaney's metamorphosis consisted mostly of growing more facial hair and sprouting fangs, this time the transformation of Del Toro is handled by Rick Baker, the special effects wizard who devised the horrific change scenes for 1981's An American Werewolf In London.
Filming took place at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, as well as at Castle Combe in Wiltshire and at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.
Hopkins's role in The Wolfman comes close to the malevolence of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs. 
'This man will make you very nervous,' he says. 'I play Sir John Talbot as a scruffy old man with long, dirty fingernails, rotten teeth and a beard, dressed in a big grey coat and scarf.
'He is very strange. They wanted me to play him larger than life, but I thought, "I'll go in the opposite direction." The best way to play parts like this is to be very quiet. So I play him under the surface like a submarine and it creates mystery in the audience's minds.
'Psychologically, people enjoy looking at the dark side of life. I'm not a psychologist, but I think people love horror because we want certainty in life, but there is no certainty.
'We all live in our finite world and at the back end of that we all know that it will be gone for ever; there is no guarantee of anything. We like to look into the dark side of ourselves and I think that causes us great fascination and fear. That's why people like Hannibal Lecter. He was a man caught in a monstrous mind.' 
'The Wolfman' is out now

Sir Anthony Hopkins exits Andy Garcia’s Ernest Hemingway movie

Jon Voight has replaced Sir Anthony Hopkins in Andy Garcia’s new Ernest Hemingway biopic. Garcia announced the casting change while promoting his new film At Middleton earlier this week (beg27Jan14), stating, “Mr. Hopkins is no longer playing Hemingway.”
Garcia will play Gregorio Fuentes, the boat captain who inspired the title character in his book The Old Man & The Sea, and he admits Hopkins’ decision to quit the project has not dampened his enthusiasm for the film, titled Hemingway & Fuentes.
He tells WENN, “We’ve restored a 1930s wheeler boat, which is a replica of Hemingway’s Pilar. I also hired a boat builder, John Lubbehusen out of St. Augustine Boat Works, to build me a replica based on my research images of a Cuban fishing skiff from the 1940s and 50s.
“He built an extraordinarily beautiful boat but now we have to make it look worse than it is for the movie. It was hand built, hand framed as they would’ve built it back in the day. It’s a working boat, a character in the film. I hope to be shooting this summer in the Dominican Republic.”
Garcia will direct the film from a screenplay he has written with Hemingway’s niece Hilary.

Anthony Hopkins' new film Go With Me is 'his best since The Silence Of The Lambs'


Anthony Hopkins looks pensive in a scene from Go With Me
He won a long-awaited Oscar for his performance in The Silence of the Lambs in 1992 - despite having been on screen for barely 16 minutes of its total two hour run time.
Yet Sir Anthony Hopkins' latest role could even top that chilling turn as Dr Hannibal Lecter, with some describing it as the best work of his acclaimed 48-year, 130 plus movie career.
Go With Me - which the Port Talbot screen legend filmed last year in British Columbia, Canada - tells the tale of a young woman (The Bourne Identity's Julia Styles) who calls on the help of a grizzled ex-lumberjack (Hopkins) when she falls foul of a local king pin (Goodfellas star Ray Liotta).
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
Hopkins in Academy Award-winning form as Hannibal Lecter
The film has been directed by Daniel Alfredson who recently oversaw Hopkins in his role as Freddy Heineken in a recent Amsterdam-based thriller based on the real-life kidnapping of the infamous Dutch lager magnate.
“It’s an excellent script," says Hopkins, who turns 78 in December.
"There’s not too much dialogue. It’s a brutal and harsh look at life.
“I like scripts that are simple. Sometimes you do a movie and it’s so hacked about because everyone has their own good ideas.
"Danny (director Alfredson) is flexible to all that, but at the same time he doesn’t take to people messing about.”
The finished product is due to be privately screened in Vancouver soon, which will be the first time any of the actors - other than Hopkins - will have seen it in its entirety.
It will then get its world premiere at next month's prestigious Venice Film Festival.
The South Walian will topline a remake of the vintage sci-fi classic Westworld
"Anthony thinks it’s one of the best films he’s done in a long time - he might even have mentioned Silence of the Lambs in there,” says producer Rick Dugdale, who, in turn, compared it to backwoods cult classics like Deliverance.
"He feels the same way we do, that we executed it exactly as we intended to.
"Obviously I’m close to it, but I really do think the film is good," he adds.
"And the reactions we’re getting from people…hey, you don’t get into Venice without the film being worthwhile.”
“I’ve probably watched it 300 times, I'm not even making that up."

WATCH: Hopkins ups the chill factor in the Westworld teaser trailer

Meanwhile, the Welshman can next been seen in the small screen remake of the '73 sci-fi chiller Westworld - the tale of a futuristic holiday resort peopled by role-playing robots.
The series, due in 2016 and made by the award-winning HBO , will mark Hopkins first ever regular TV role.

Anthony Hopkins born

On this day in 1937, Anthony Hopkins, who will become known for playing one of the greatest villains in movie history, the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and its two sequels, is born in Port Talbot, Wales. In addition to portraying Lecter, a role which earned Hopkins his first Academy Award, the versatile actor, considered one of the best of his generation, has appeared in a long list of films, including Remains of the Day and Fracture.
Hopkins studied acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In the 1960s, Sir Laurence Olivier asked Hopkins to join the Royal National Theatre and serve as his understudy. In 1968, Hopkins landed his first big-screen role in the Academy Award-winning The Lion in Winter, with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Hopkins went on to co-star in such films as The Elephant Man (1980), directed by David Lynch, and The Bounty (1984), in which he played Captain William Bligh to Mel Gibson’s Fletcher Christian.
In 1990, Hopkins starred in the thriller The Silence of the Lambs as the murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, a character who originated in a series of novels by Thomas Harris. (The actor Brian Cox first played Lecter on the silver screen in 1986’s Manhunter.) Directed by Jonathan Demme, The Silence of the Lambs co-starred Jodie Foster as the FBI trainee Clarice Starling, who asks for the incarcerated Lecter’s help in catching another serial killer. The film won Academy Awards in all five major categories, including Best Actor for Hopkins, Best Actress for Foster, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The American Film Institute later named Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter the top villain in movie history. Hopkins reprised his role for 2001’s Hannibal and 2002’s Red Dragon.
In addition to The Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins was featured in a lengthy list of films during the 1990s, including director James Ivory’s Howards End (1992); Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992); The Remains of the Day (1993), which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as aging English butler James Stevens; Shadowlands (1993), in which he played Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis; Old West epic Legends of the Fall (1994), with Brad Pitt, Henry Thomas, Aidan Quinn and Julia Ormond; and director Oliver Stone’s biopicNixon (1995), for which Hopkins earned another Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of America’s 37th president.
Hopkins received his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Steven Spielberg’s slavery drama Amistad (1996), in which he played John Quincy Adams. Among the actor’s more recent film credits are The Human Stain (2003), with Nicole Kidman; The World’s Fastest Indian (2005), based on the real-life story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who built a motorcycle that set the land-speed record; and the thriller Fracture (2007), with Ryan Gosling, in which Hopkins plays a manipulative murderer.

Anthony Hopkins - Biography

Most actors are pleased to have just one role acclaimed worldwide. But with Anthony Hopkins, over the last 40 years, there've been so many memorable moments, so many extraordinary performances. Remember him as the schizophrenic ventriloquist, losing his mind in Magic? As kindly Dr Frederick Treves, befriending the hideously deformed John Hurt in The Elephant Man? As a fusty old CS Lewis, weeping before the wardrobe in Shadowlands, knowing there's no magic to bring Debra Winger back? Then there were the Oscar-nominated roles, as US presidents in both Amistad and Nixon, and as a destructively repressed butler in The Remains Of The Day. And there were the heavyweight stage appearances as Macbeth and Lear, and the tortured Dr Dysart in Equus. And more, so many more. 

There can be no doubt that Hopkins is one of the finest screen actors ever, with an incredible emotional range. Sod's Law dictates, then, that he should be best-known as the quiet, watchful, ultra-controlled Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter from Thomas Harris's notorious trilogy, eating people's liver with a fine Chianti. Incredibly, it was soon after he played this calculating and manipulative beast that he was knighted by the Queen. Strange world, indeed. 

Philip Anthony Hopkins was born on New Year's Eve, 1937, at 77, Wern Road, Margam, near Port Talbot, South Wales. His mother was Muriel (nee Phillips, a relative of the poet William Butler Yeats) and his father Richard Arthur, a man of immense, sometimes violent energy, whose eyes would change colour when he was excited and who, Hopkins believes, eventually died from being wound too tight. Richard's father was a self-educated man who, having trained at a bakery in Piccadilly, built a bakery business after his own father had drunk away what fortune the family had. Strong-willed and free-thinking, he was a vegetarian and a militant trades unionist. He was also very close to young Anthony, nicknaming him George (oddly, father Richard would know him as Charlie).

Richard continued the family bakery, eventually moving Muriel and only child Anthony into Port Talbot to live above the shop. Young Anthony was a sensitive kid, happier drawing, painting and playing the piano (he's now a virtuoso) than hanging with the other kids. A dyslexic, he was poor academically, once saying of himself "I was lousy in school. Real screwed-up. A moron. I was anti-social and didn't bother with the other kids. A really bad student. I didn't have any brains. I didn't know what I was doing there. That's why I became an actor". To separate him from the many other Hopkins at school, he became known as Mad Hopkins.

Failing badly at Port Talbot's Central School, in 1949 his parents sent him to West Monmouth boarding school in Pontypool, hoping he'd learn some discipline and begin to fit in. After five wretched terms, they brought him out again, placing him at Cowbridge Grammar, a lot closer to home. Here he'd spend another unhappy four years, leaving with a solitary O-level, in English.

Hopkins' problem was that, though extremely bright, his interests lay far outside school. Aside from art and music, he was also taken by acting. His bedroom was lit up at night by the red flash of the cinema opposite and, in the holidays, he'd watch at least two movies a week, thrilling to the performances of Bogart and Cagney, and the B-movie likes of Jack Palance (no surprise, then, that he later became such a competent villain). There was also the matter of Port Talbot's local hero. By the early Fifties, Richard Burton was a Hollywood star who caused a major stir whenever he returned to Wales. As Burton's sister lived nearby, the young Hopkins found out about Burton's next visit home and went over to get his autograph, being mightily impressed by Burton's natty sports car. Burton, he thought, had escaped this small town and found fame and fortune - why couldn't he?

Following in Burton's footsteps, and having been further inspired by seeing Emlyn Williams touring as Dylan Thomas (he'd later direct a movie about Thomas), he began his apprenticeship with the local YMCA players, then enrolled at Cardiff's College of Music and Drama. After graduation, he took a job with the Arts Council then, in 1958, came National Service. Joining the Royal Artillery as 23449720 Gunner Hopkins, he was posted to Oswestry, then Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain, spending two years "typewriter-punching" for thirty bob a week. Leaving as a Bombardier, he went back to his parents' new place in Laleston, near Bridgend and, getting back into drama, appeared in several local plays, making his professional debut in Have A Cigarette, at the Palace Theatre, Swansea, in 1960.

Hopkins' inherited characteristics made him intense, and his years as a lonely outsider fuelled the fire. He won a place at RADA, from which he graduated in 1963. He spent a while in rep then, in 1965, was invited to join Laurence Olivier's National Theatre. At his audition, he cheekily chose to read from Othello, which Olivier had performed onscreen that year. But that was Hopkins at 27 - arrogant, angry and prodigiously talented.

In 1966, he made his screen debut in The White Bus, directed by Lindsay "If" Anderson. It was intended to be the first part of a colour-inspired trilogy (to be followed by Red and Blue - Kieslowski would later find fame for just such a 3-parter), but that was not to be. No matter, it was on the stage that Hopkins was to make his name. With the National Theatre, he played in The Flea In Her Ear, Juno And The Peacock, as Boris in The Provincial Life, and Andrei in Chekov's Three Sisters.

1967 was a big turning-point. Acting as Olivier's understudy in Strindberg's Dance Of Death, he took over the lead when the great man fell ill with appendicitis. And he was stupendously good, Olivier himself recalling that this "new young actor... of exceptional promise%u2026 walked away with the part of Edgar like a cat with a mouse between his teeth". Next would come another showstopping performance, in a blonde wig and flapper dress, as Audrey in an all-male adaptation of As You Like It. And he filmed his big screen debut proper, The Lion In Winter, where he played the young Richard the Lionheart, one of three sons of Peter O'Toole's Henry II who are competing for their father's throne. Both fierce and tender, Hopkins was superb, easily matching the grand likes of O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn, and being nominated for a BAFTA.

'67 also saw trouble begin. Hopkins would marry the actress Petronella Barker and have a daughter, Abigail, but the relationship would sour quickly. He was now drinking heavily as he toured up and down the country. Split from Barker and feeling that he'd abandoned his child (he'd not have contact with Abigail for many years though, after reconciliation, she'd appear in several of his movies), his behaviour grew worse. All the attention, too, was not easy for this perennial loner to bear. And he despised the circle who hung around the National Theatre. "I detested all of them," he later said, "Ken Tynan and all those ghastly people, sitting around smoking their cigarettes between their middle fingers".

Nevertheless, steeped in his family's work ethic, he continued a punishing work schedule. Onscreen, he appeared as John Avery in John Le Carre's spy thriller The Looking Glass War, and as Claudius to Nicol Williamson's Hamlet. 1970 saw him appear as both Danton and Charles Dickens, and also in Uncle Vanya and Hearts And Flowers. 1971 saw him back onstage with the National, as Coriolanus, in The Architect And The Emperor Of Assyria and, with Joan Plowright and Derek Jacobi, in The Woman Killed With Kindness. Hopkins' father would attend a performance of this last play and, sitting backstage, loudly gave it only two weeks. Then, introduced to Olivier himself (Mr Plowright) and discovering they were both the same age, he said "Well, we're both going down the bloody hill now, aren't we?"

Now Hopkins' screen career began to take off too. 1971 saw him in his first action lead, as secret serviceman Philip Calvert, investigating piracy off the Scottish coast in Alistair MacLean's When Eight Bells Toll. The next year would see him alongside Simon Ward and Anne Bancroft in Young Winston, a historical epic that followed the young Winston Churchill's exploits in Sudan and South Africa. This was directorial debut of Richard Attenborough, a man who'd call Hopkins "unquestionably the greatest actor of his generation" and consequently cast him in many of his pictures. 1973 brought real nationwide fame when he was utterly convincing as Pierre, moving between the worlds of the peasants and aristocrats in a sweeping TV version of Tolstoy's epic War And Peace, a role for which he'd win a BAFTA.

Incredibly, Hopkins was actually now at his lowest ebb. His drinking had progessively worsened and he admits that he was becoming impossible to work with. The crunch came in early 1973, when he walked out of a National Theatre production of Macbeth. Luckily, help was at hand. That same year, he'd marry Jennifer Lynton, a production secretary he'd met when she'd been sent to pick him up at the airport. She'd back him in his long battle against booze, a battle he'd finally win on December 29th, 1975. Having come to in Arizona, with no idea how he got there, he gave up for good.

His success in the UK continued throughout, though. 1974 saw him star as Dr Adam Kelno in the hit miniseries QB VII, where he played a death camp escapee charged with war crimes by the Russians, then accused again 20 years later. Then, in Juggernaut, he was the straightlaced copper criss-crossing London in an attempt to find the man who's planted bombs on an ocean-going liner. And he made an brilliantly arch Siegfried Farnham in James Herriot's vet-fest All Creatures Great And Small.

But America was now beckoning and Hopkins, the kid who'd dreamed of following Richard Burton to Hollywood stardom, couldn't resist. Having seized people's attention with his New York performance as Dysart, the psychiatrist thrown into moral turmoil in Equus (a role Burton himself would later play onscreen), and played a KGB man trying to spoil Russian ballerina Goldie Hawn's relationship with US journalist Hal Holbrook, he now began to work full-time on breaking the States.

The next few years saw an inexorable rise with a series of wildly varying roles. In Dark Victory, he played the doctor who keeps a terminally ill Elizabeth Montgomery going. Then he won his first Emmy as Bruno Richard Hauptmann, executed for murder in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case. Next he played Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin in the all-star hostage drama Victory At Entebbe, and then came two real stand-outs. First, in the superior supernatural thriller Audrey Rose, he was Eliot Hoover, a man who believes the spirit of his daughter, burned to death in a car accident, is inhabiting the body of a New York's couple's child. The final sequence, where the girl is hypnotised and regresses back past her own birth to her previous horrible death, was stunningly powerful, Hopkins strident, loving and desperate. Then it was back to Attenborough, with another all-star epic in A Bridge Too Far, with Hopkins starring as Lieutenant Colonel John Frost, keeping his upper lip stiff during a lonely and doomed battle on the final bridgehead at Arnhem. His former boss Olivier would also feature large.

The two styles that Hopkins would use to greatest effect were now coming into evidence. In A Bridge Too Far, he was deadly straight, wholly trustworthy and very, very English. In Attenborough's next effort, Magic, he showed a wilder side to his character, as Corky, a successful ventriloquist who appears to be being taken over by his own doll. It was a fabulous performance of massive vulnerability, Hopkins being nominated for both a BAFTA and a Golden Globe.

Now working constantly, switching between theatre and film, Hopkins' projects were not always of great quality. International Velvet, Mayflower: The Pilgrims' Adventure and A Change Of Seasons, where he played a professor who takes student Bo Derek as a lover, then gets annoyed when his wife Shirley Maclaine takes a lover too, were not of the highest order. But the early Eighties did see some excellent material, too. In The Elephant Man, the terrible tribulations of poor John Merrick were best expressed on Hopkins' face. Then came another Emmy, for his portrayal of Adolf Hitler's last days in The Bunker. He was a tremendous Moor in Jonathan Miller's Othello, persecuted by Bob Hoskins' slimy Iago, and he wasn't at all bad when disabled himself, as Quasimodo in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, pining for Lesley-Anne Down's Esmeralda.

After this he was a ferocious Captain Bligh to Mel Gibson's rebellious Fletcher Christian in The Bounty, Olivier appearing as Admiral Hood. Then, weirdly, he lent his thespian gravitas to a miniseries version of Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives. In Arch Of Triumph, he again played a death camp escapee, this time holed up in occupied Paris, falling (once more) for Lesley-Anne Down, and seeking revenge on beastly Gestapo chief Donald Pleasance. In The Decline And Fall Of Il Duce, he was an aristocratic relative trying to get Bob Hoskins' Mussolini to ditch Hitler. Then came a couple of family-based dramas in Guilty Conscience, where he was plotting to kill wife Blythe Danner, and The Good Father where he helped jilted Jim Broadbent get even with his ex.

His American adventure had taken its toll. Taking so many roles, and trying to burn so bright in each of them, Hopkins was wearing down. He was also losing touch with his roots, a process made faster by the fact that his wife preferred to remain in the UK while he travelled (this situation would continue till their divorce in 2002). So, by the mid-Eighties, Hopkins decided to work primarily in the UK, rebuilding his career. He took to the stage again with the National Theatre, as King Lear and Anthony in Anthony And Cleopatra, and in Pravda.

His film projects were smaller now, and thankfully more interesting. In 84, Charing Cross Road, he played a quiet bookshop owner who engages in a trans-Atlantic correspondance with New York scriptwriter Anne Bancroft (a co-star in Young Winston and The Elephant Man). Then came Graham Greene's The Tenth Man, which took him back to occupied France. This time he was Chavel, about to be executed by the Nazis. At the last moment, a fellow Frenchman agrees that, in exchange for allChavel's possessions, he will face the firing squad instead. Chavel goes home to find the man's sister, Kristin Scott Thomas, very bitter, living in his house (now her house) and waiting for him, so he pretends to be someone else. And then another man turns up, claiming to be Chavel... It was an excellent effort, taut and fraught, and it earned Hopkins another Golden Globe nomination.

After this, it was back to Wales with Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus Of Disapproval, where he played the leader of a Welsh troupe attempting to put on an opera. When newcomer Jeremy Irons turns up, he finds a hot-bed of jealousy, seduction and internecine warfare, far more dramatic than anything on the stage. Next came Across The Lake, another heroic role where he played Donald Campbell, attempting to break the water speed record in Bluebird.

Come the Nineties and it was time for another tilt at Hollywood. He warmed up as Magwitch in a Disney version of Great Expectations, with Jean Simmons as Miss Haversham (Simmons having played young Estella in David Lean's classic adaptation). Then came Michael Cimino's Desperate Hours where Mickey Rourke busts out of jail and holes up in a suburban home owned by separated couple Hopkins and Mimi Rogers. Will the couple pull together, or will their bickering send Rourke over the edge?

And now, out of the blue, came the big one. Michael Mann had already introduced psycho-genius Hannibal Lecter in his Manhunter. But Jonathan Demme's The Silence Of The Lambs was a bigger budget affair. Here, there's a serial killer on the loose, named Buffalo Bill. People have been butchered and there's a girl missing, presumed In Deep Shit. The FBI can't make head nor tail of the myriad clues, so they send young agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to speak to imprisoned loon Lecter in the hope that he might help them catch Bill. And Hopkins was brilliant, teasing Starling, analysing her, visibly smelling her. Indeed, he was a paragon of alertness, contemplating every detail of every tiny movement in order to turn the information to his advantage. The Oscar was his (something Richard Burton never managed), as was the franchise. Later, he'd return opposite Julianne Moore in Hannibal, casually cooking a slice of the still-awake Ray Liotta's brain. And later still would come Red Dragon, a remake of Manhunter, with Ed Norton as FBI agent Will Graham, who needs Lecter to help him catch killer The Tooth Fairy.

After Spotswood, an Australian flick where he played an efficiency expert called to a moccasin factory (Russell Crowe and Toni Collette featured in early roles), and Freejack, a sci-fi tale where he was a rich, dying guy in the future who wants to transfer his mind into a younger, healthier body, Hopkins entered an incredible run of films. First came Merchant/Ivory's Howard's End, where he played the leader of the Wilcoxes, an emotionally repressed but very rich capitalist family, including Vanessa Redgrave and James Wilby. Pitted against them are the Schlegel sisters, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter, members of the "enlightened bourgeoisie" and free-thinking women who'd like to hold out a helping hand to the working-class Bast family.

Next it was back to Hollywood big-time as Professor Van Helsing in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, hamming it up crazily as he hunts down the Count. A scene where he was seduced by Winona Ryder's Mina was left on the cutting-room floor. There was more Attenborough when he played editor George Hayden in the excellent Chaplin, then he was the priest in Kafka's The Trial. After this, he returned to the Cold War for the first time since 1969's Looking Glass War, as a spy in Berlin in John Schlesinger's The Innocent. In a couple of neat tie-ins, he also revisited his past in two other ways. When Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus was remastered, a scene was re-introduced where Olivier's General Crassus attempts to seduce Tony Curtis's slave Antoninus. The footage remained, but not the soundtrack, so Hopkins found himself providing the voice for his old mentor. Then there was more Spartacus when he provided the narration for Jeff Wayne's musical version of the story - Richard Burton having earlier narrated Wayne's War Of The Worlds.

And it got even better. In Merchant/Ivory's The Remains Of The Day, he was superb as James Stevens, butler for James Wilby and a man so repressed that duty has become everything to him. Thus he loses a chance at happiness with housekeeper Emma Thompson and looks away when Wilby foolishly sympathises with Hitler. With realisation comes torment, and Hopkins is in his element, seemingly dormant then suddenly on the verge of a volcanic emotional eruption. He well deserved his Oscar nomination. And he should have had one for his next part, too, as CS Lewis in Attenborough's brilliant Shadowlands. Here we see Lewis in the Thirties, a stuffy professor who's written the Narnia Chronicles but doesn't believe in magic. Then he meets Debra Winger's Joy Gresham, an American fan with a young son and, his life filled with excitement, he falls in love, only for Joy to fall fatally ill. The scene in the attic, when the boy, desperate to save his mother, rifles through the hanging furs to find the passage into Narnia, is heartbreaking. Hopkins would at least win another BAFTA.

Now he was a big star, carrying Hollywood movies. In The Road To Wellville, he was hilariously larger-than-life as Dr John Harvey Kellogg, examining people's stools and driving them through fascistic fitness regimes at his idiosyncratic health resort. Then he was Colonel William Ludlow, father of Brad Pitt and Aidan Quinn, who watches them battle over Julia Ormond and then suffers a terrible stroke in Legends Of The Fall. Then came another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of disgraced president Richard Nixon in Oliver Stone's Nixon, driven to filthy tactics by the Kennedys and battling to maintain some kind of dignity as his world collapses around him.

Fame and money gave him a chance to direct and provide the music for August, where he set Chekov's Uncle Vanya in South Wales at the turn of the last century. Then he was back to his burgeoning best as Pablo Picasso in Merchant/Ivory's Surviving Picasso, taking mistresses left, right and centre, and generally being a creative force of nature. Following this was The Edge, a sadly ignored surviving-the-wilderness piece penned by David Mamet. Here Hopkins played a millionaire businessman whose young wife, Elle MacPherson is the target of young stud Alec Baldwin. Yet when Hopkins and his rival are aboard a plane that crashes out in the wild, it's Hopkins' knowledge that keeps them alive, rather than Baldwin's youthful strength, particularly when they're menaced by a peculiarly ferocious bear.

Next came Steven Spielberg's Amistad, concerning an onboard slave revolt in 1839. Here Hopkins played his second president, John Quincy Adams, and his incredible powers of memory came into play. Though dyslexic in his early life, he's always possessed a fearsome memory for times, dates and scripts, and he blew away the crew by memorising a 7-page speech for the taut court-room finale. So impressed was Spielberg that he couldn't bring himself to call Hopkins Tony, referring to him throughout as Sir Anthony - Hopkins having been knighted in 1993, after receiving the CBE in 1987. Another Oscar nomination came his way.

And the hits kept coming. In The Mask Of Zorro, he played the original Zorro, now aged and teaching young Antonio Banderas to ride, whip, fight and cut flashy Zs into all and sundry. Then he played another millionaire businessman, this time visited by Death in the shape of Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black. This movie took a lot more at the box-office than perhaps in should, by virtue of the fact that it was one of the first to carry the trailer for The Phantom Menace - many attended just for a glimpse of the next Star Wars extravaganza.

Instinct saw Hopkins drawing on that primal rage again as Ethan Powell, a primatologist who's turned apeman and slaughtered some poachers. Back in the US, he's locked up in a high-security institution where psychiatrist Cuba Gooding must discover if he's actually wacko. Then came his first Shakespeare in years, when he took on the lead in Julie Taymor's fantastically bloody Titus, revenging himself upon Goth queen Jessica Lange, her two decadent sons, and her Moorish lover (the fabulous Harry Lennix). Cut throats, insanity, severed heads, hands and tongues, and inadvertent cannibalism - who could ask for more?

After this came Hannibal, and then Stephen King's Hearts In Atlantis, where he played a stranger spending a magical summer befriending the young son of a bitter widow, their idyllic life eventually being destroyed by dark forces wishing to manipulate their shared ability to see into the future. This was followed by Bad Company where he played a CIA operative training up feisty new kid Chris Rock (a streetsmart chancer recruited to replace his own dead twin) and taking on terrorists plotting to attack New York (the film's release was delayed for obvious reasons). Then came Red Dragon. Just before this, Hopkins had filmed The Devil And Daniel Webster, a remake of William Dieterle's 1941 classic directed by his old buddy Alec Baldwin. A retelling of the Faust legend, this would see Baldwin as a writer who sells his soul to Jennifer Love Hewitt's shapely Lucifer in exchange for 10 years of success. Hopkins would appear as the titular Webster, a powerful publisher who must argue Baldwin's case and save him from eternal damnation. Sadly, the movie's financing was suspect, leading to a federal investigation and long delays. When it was finally picked up by another company, it was reworked and re-edited and Baldwin had his directing credit removed. Though the film won a prize at the 2004 Naples Film Festival, there was still no offer of a general release.

Following Red Dragon would be The Human Stain, based on the Philip Roth novel. This saw Hopkins as a well-respected classics professor in New England who resigns in a rage after being accused of racism (his rage being in part due to the fact that throughout his career he has pretended to be a Jew when he's actually black). Now in a limbo of bitterness, he engages in an affair with ill-educated janitor Nicole Kidman, the movie discussing whether divisions in class are harder to cross than racials divides. He'd then move on to Oliver Stone's epic Alexander, as Old Ptolemy providing a busy narration that attempted to cover the myriad points of politics and morality that the film itself could not explain. Famously, despite its cinematic grandeur, the movie would bomb big-time.

Hopkins' own private life was fairly turbulent, too. He'd had a relationship with Joyce Ingalls in the late Nineties, then got engaged to one Francine Kay before his divorce from Jennifer Lynton came through in 2002. By then he'd be attached to 46-year-old Stella Arroyave, an antiques dealer he'd marry in 2003. But he had time for others, too, volunteering at Ruskins School of Acting in Santa Monica, and handing money to worthy causes. Once, one Samuel James Hudson wrote to him, asking for help with his acting tuition fees and Hopkins sent him $2,900. Hudson didn't, in the end, need the money and sent it back, only to receive the cheque back once again with instructions to give it to some other struggling actor. And, though, he became an American citizen in 2000 (the final escape from Margam), he still looked out for Wales, donating '1 million to Snowdonia National Park.

2005 would see him highly active once again. In Proof, he played a dead maths professor amongst whose papers is found a revolutionary theory. His depressed daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, claims to have written it, though her sister (played by Hope Davis, Hopkins' co-star in Hearts In Atlantis) is skeptical. So we see, in flashback, Paltrow's relationship with Hopkins, as they both try to cope with his final debilitating breakdown. The movie was based on David Auburn 2001 Pultizer Prize-winning play, and was something of a re-run of an earlier production at London's Donmar Warehouse, also directed by John Madden and starring Paltrow (Hopkins' part had been played by Ronald Pickup).

Next came The World's Fastest Indian, which reunited Hopkins with Roger Donaldson who'd directed him in The Bounty, 21 years before. This biopic would see him as Burt Munro, a New Zealander who spent many years customising a 1920s Indian motorbike, then broke the world land speed record on Utah's Bonneville salt flats in the Seventies. He'd move on to another prestigious project with All The King's Men, based on Robert Penn Warren's famous political novel, which won a Pulitzer back in 1947. Here Sean Penn would star as Willie Stark, a southern politico (based on Huey Long) who gradually loses his innocence and integrity as he rises to power. His right-hand man would be Jude Law, whose own integrity is severely tested when Penn asks him to dig the dirt on Hopkins, a good and decent judge believed to be beyond reproach. What Law discovers then kick-starts a series of shock revelations and tragic deaths.

Whether you prefer him as a tight-assed Englishman in period dramas or as one of the maniacs he's played so convincingly, it's hard to disagree with Richard Attenborough's statement that Anthony Hopkins is the greatest actor of his generation. He's often outshone his early hero, Richard Burton and matched his early mentor Olivier. The man's a true original, lending weight to every movie he's in, and still headlining, even now he's into his Sixties. Long may he reign.
 
 
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