Sir Anthony Hopkins


In 1995, Hopkins earned mixed acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his impressionistic take (done without elaborate makeup) on President Richard M. Nixon in Oliver Stone's Nixon. After his performance as Pablo Picasso in James Ivory's Surviving Picasso (1996), Hopkins garnered another Oscar nomination -- this time for Best Supporting Actor -- the following year for his work in Steven Spielberg's slavery epic Amistad. 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 for the movie. Following this honour, Hopkins chose roles that cast him as a father figure, first in the ploddingly long Meet Joe Black and then in the have-mask-will-travel swashbuckler Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas and fellow countrywoman Catherine Zeta-Jones.

In his next film, 1999's Instinct, Hopkins again played a father, albeit one of a decidedly different stripe. As anthropologist Ethan Powell, Hopkins takes his field work with gorillas a little too seriously, reverting back to his animal instincts, killing a couple of people, and alienating his daughter (Maura Tierney) in the process.

Hopkins kept a low profile in 2000, providing narration for Ron Howard's live-action adaptation of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and voicing the commands overheard by Tom Cruise's special agent in John Woo's Mission: Impossible 2. In 2001, Hopkins returned to the screen to reprise his role as the effete, erudite, eponymous cannibal in Ridley Scott's Hannibal, the long-anticipated sequel to Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs (1991). The 160-million-dollar blockbuster did much for Hopkins' bank account but little for his standing with the critics, who by and large found Hannibal to be a stylish, gory exercise. Worse yet, some wags suggested that the actor would have been better off had he followed his Silence co-star Jodie Foster's lead and opted out of the sequel altogether. I have to say that I certainly do not agree. Ridley Scott did it his way and the film had all the hallmarks of one of his productions. Gary Oldmans performance is excellent and Moores is sensitive. Who can forget Hopkins response to Moores comment...

‘Do this right and we’ll live through this’

To which Hopkins retorts (and I laugh as I write this)

‘Spoken like a true Protestant’

Later that year, the moody, cloying Stephen King adaptation Hearts in Atlantis did little to repair his reputation with critics or audiences, who avoided the film like the plague. But the next installment in the cash-cow Hannibal Lecter franchise restored lustre to the thespian's Hollywood career. Red Dragon, the second filmed version of Thomas Harris' first novel in the Lecter series, revisited the same territory previously adapted by director Michael Mann in 1986's Manhunter, with mixed but generally positive results. Surrounding Hopkins with a game cast, including Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel and Emily Watson, the Brett Ratner film garnered some favourable comparisons to Demme's 1991 award-winner, as well as some decent, if not Hannibal-calibre, returns at the box office.

Hopkins would face his biggest chameleon job since Nixon with 2003's highly anticipated adaptation of Philip Roth's Clinton-era tragedy The Human Stain, a prestige Miramax project directed by Robert Benton and co-starring Nicole Kidman, fresh off her Oscar win for The Hours. Unfortunately, most critics couldn't get past the hurtle of accepting the Anglo-Saxon paragon Hopkins as Stain's flawed protagonist Coleman Silk, an aging, defamed African-American academic who has been "passing" as white for most of his adult life. The film died a quick death at the box office and went unrecognized in year-end awards.

Hopkins has also become famous for his accents - although this is possibly by accident. His ability to wander seamlessly through Welsh, English, Irish and American has now become a feature of many of his films - listen carefully and you'll hear em' all!


‘Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore; only the life I have lived. The pain now is part of the happiness then’

'I have a punishing workout regimen. Every day I do 3 minutes on a treadmill, then I lie down, drink a glass of vodka and smoke a cigarette'

'On his Hannibal Lector mask thing: I've got it at home. I wear it to bed every night'


Suggested films to see:
A Bridge too far (1977)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Hannibal (2001)




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