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Anthony Hopkins
 
15.9.2008
  

Anthony Hopkins was born in South Wales in Great Britain in 12-31-1937. Even thought he started to be interested in acting in 60's, he was known only to limited number of people visiting London National Theatre (member from 1966 to 1973). He played mostly main roles in Shakespeare's dramas under direction of Laurence Olivier. In 1967 Anthony had to fill in for Olivier who had to go to hospital with urgent appendicitis. Olivier was the best actor to play his role, but still Hopkins was able to double for him very well. In his memoirs, Olivier writes: "I was doubled by some new young actor, probably very talented, Anthony Hopkins."

 

Earlier he debuted in 1964 in London Royal Court Theatre in inscenation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, in 1974 he appeared as Dr. Martin Dysart in Peter Schaffer's drama Equus on Brodway. On the televison screen was this role played by Hopkins' role model, Waleshman as well, Richard Burton. Critics were absolutely satisfied and couldn't find anything bad on Hopkins' acting, he even succeeded in TV. Among his most remarkabe achievments belongs role of kidnaper Bruno Hauptman in drama The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (Emmy), Hitler in Bunker, Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, or french attorney Chavel in adaptation of Graham Greene novel The Tenth Man.

 

His movie roles were left in the shadows for quite long time compared to his TV and theatre successes. After short role in The White Bus directed by Lindsay Anderson (who directed Hopkins' theatre debut Julius Caesar as well) he appeared as supporting but important role Richard, The Lion-heart next to Peter O'Tool and Katharine Hepburn in film adaptation of James Goldman's play Lion in winter. Hopkins was nominated on BAFTA awards.

 

In 70's and 80's, he was given mostly support roles, only rarely he gets more of a space. Anthony was still able to shine, when his friend, director Richard Attenborough placed him into support but very important role of lieutenant colonel John Frost in A Bridge Too Far, 1977. Well it's important to mention that in movie with such a star casting (Dirk Bogarde, Hopkins' teacher Laurence Olivier, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan or Robert Redford etc.) Hopkins played more than well. But a year later he played in much more difficult role in Attenboroughs' thriller Magic (1978, nomination on Golden Globus and BAFTA award). He played mad ventriloquist Corky.

 

In mid 70's Hopkins' alcoholic issues culminated. His drinking went up through the roof, he himself admited, that it got out of hand and he didn't have control of it anymore. In 1975 when he lost consciousness, he decided to radically change his attitude. Anthony seeked for some organization helping addicted and became abstainer, which he continue to be.

 

Among the roles of 80's there are some worth mentioning like Frederic Treves, who tries to take care of mutilated man in Lynch's The Elephant Man from 1980, or boat captain William Blight in Donaldsons' version of drama about naval rebellion Bounty from 1984. The film didn't have the best responses, the most interesting was Hopkins' performance in otherwise ordinary and average movie. Hopkins took strict role of a captain more like high-principled, rigorous and capable sailor, but also loyal man, along whom "hero" Mel Gibson looks as naive and thoughtless young fellow.

 

The breaking point in Anthony Hopkins' career was role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in masterpiece thriller The Silence of the Lambs, 1991. Even thought he appeared on the screen for about half an hour, his performance of dangerous but fascinating felon was such strong, that he was awarded many prizes for main role (Oscar, BAFTA, New York Film Critics, and so on). It was the shortest play, of which an actor got Oscar for main role. The Silence of the Lambs was absolutly fenomenal triumph for everyone included, movie was holding very well commercially and at critics. It is only third movie in history that could won all five main Oscars - film, direction, scenario, actor and actress in main role. Then, in his 53 years, Anthony Hopkins became well known celebrity, popular far and wide. He said it was surely new experience to see his name written in large letters on every corner.

 

For Hopkins, his success had very important meaining especially because it made it much easier to get roles in prestigous film projects of influential and significant directors. 90's brought most interesting film decade for him. He met director James Ivory three times (Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Surviving Picasso). Especially role of seneschal in The Remains of the Day is worth watching. Fenomenal acting, when Hopkins was able to project inside world of a man, who never shows his feelings, meant a lot of awards for him again (London Film Critics, Donatell's David, nomination on Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA award). Also second meeting with Richard Attenborough at the movie Shadowland (1993) where he depicted children's book writer C.S. Lewis brought him some prizes (BAFTA, Los Angeles Film Critics). He got Oscar nominations for roles of real people - expresident John Quincy Adams in Spielberg drama Amistad (1997) and president Nixon in movie Nixon by Oliver Stone. Hopkins didn't hesitate to accept roles in clearly commercial projects such as Edge (1997), Mask of Zorro (1998), or Instinct (1999). In 1999 he appeared in shakespeares drama Julie Taymor Titus. Director changed classical drama from ancient Rome by many posmodern elements and showed couple of shocking scenes of brutal violence. Hopkins' hero goes through unbelievable torture to bring back memories of his most popular dole Dr. Lecter in the end.

 

After premiere of this movie Hopkins publicly announced that he ends his career and goes to retirement. For his supporters, it meant huge disappointment, but fortunatelly he came back a year later. First in minor role in second part of Mission: Impossible. But later, in 2001 he played role of mad psychologist in resumption of The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal. Movie was more or less disappointing, his fiscal profit was thanks to success of the first part, public acceptance was just mild. Lately it seems that Sir Anthony loses breath (noble title was given to him in 1993). In Bad Company or Hearts in Atlantis he only "happens to play" as well as in film Alexander, he didn't show anything special. Hopefully we can look forward to see some fenomenal role of this brilliant actor, who already showed what he is capable of. Anthony Hopkins belogs among best actors of the world, whom is honor to play with.

 

Sources:
 
[JJ]
 


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