Accustomed to awards, Anthony Hopkins has a special place in his home with the different Oscar or Emmy trophies he has achieved. He has also garnered new SAG Screen Actors Guild or Golden Globe nominations. But the Toronto International Film Festival Tribute Actor Award, which he just received, was special, because he dedicated it to essential workers around the world.
He was barely nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category for his work in The father. With this application at 83, the Briton becomes the oldest interpreter to compete in this category.
“I am grateful to be able to continue working with my young 83 years,” he says.
“I love acting. I love this profession because it remains a mystery. I think of so many answers and can never define what it really means. I enjoy the experience. But I also think that acting is just about knowing the lyrics well, without analyzing anything too much, just enjoying the process. And I enjoy it. That’s all.
“I have had a very lucky life as an actor. The father It is an intense, deep, disturbing, demanding film and yet during the filming everyone seemed calm, free, always with a ‘good day’, offering tea at breakfast, asking if I was okay, until someone yelled “ok , stand by ”to ignite the magic of cinema.
Based on the French play The father, the movie The Father premiered before the pandemic at the Sundance Film Festival, and could no longer reach theaters due to the closure. But with the support of the Sony and Lionsgate studios, it competes for the Oscar, passing through other film festivals such as the Zurich Film Festival, San Sebastián and the Toronto TIFF special where it was even awarded by the public as Best Film.
“This is a story in which many can come to identify with their own parents,” says Anthony Hopkins, who plays the man who rejects any help from his daughter, with the arrival of old age.
“In The father the important thing was the script. Very rarely do you find that style of magic where the script completely captures you. That is where the passion of filming this story passed. The first part of the film is a story that affects everyone, for this person who is dying of dementia. He is beside himself, but the people around him are the ones who break from so much frustration, they feel their hearts breaking for not knowing how to help. “
A good acting also helps to have good actors in front like Olivia Colman, with whom he shares credits.
“Yes, working with brilliant actors is not always that easy. I’m not into sports, but I guess it’s like playing good tennis, working with someone like Olivia Colman. And when you work with brilliant people you get intense moments, with love, where the improvisation was fun.
“I was also surprised to learn that Florian Zeller was directing for the first time, because he made everything seem so simple. He asked us to do this or that. And I just asked permission to change a word that maybe did not seem accurate for English, because the original text was in French. And I asked permission to change it. But I’m not about to change anything, because I don’t want to ruin either, like those who want to use an ax to rewrite everything. I prefer to dedicate myself exclusively to my work as an actor, ”said Hopkins, reaffirming his image of being responsible, disciplined, respectful of the work of others and passionate.
“I am at that age where I feel melancholy. I get it. But the big difference with a shoot like The father It was the wonderful cast of actors and the little studio in North London, with tremendous afternoons of sunlight and the suburban streets where you could hear a passing car.
“At my age I also have my fears, but I still feel strong. And it was easy to portray a character like this father, because my brain is old enough to understand better, the brain matures, and the mind also gains much more wisdom. I don’t know if I can describe it better, but everything was very easy, from getting up in the morning to go to the movie studio or to the extraordinary little stage where, honestly, I didn’t need to act.
“The dialogue appeared alone. There were times when I could have said more than I needed to, but whatever happens I always have to learn the script, although there comes a point where it is impossible to remember everything. “
With the British roots of being born in Wales on the last day of the year 1937 (9:15 a.m., to be more precise), cinema and admiration for the Welshman Richard Burton led him to study theater at the College of Music and Drama. In 1965 he even moved to London, invited by Laurence Olivier, to join the British National Theater. Television was the next step, with A Flea in Her Ear.
And in cinema he appeared in A Bridge Too Far alongside other greats like Gene Hackman, Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Very few know but in the restored version of Spartaco, from 1991, they added a Laurence Olivier scene where Anthony Hopkins is the one who really speaks to recreate the necessary sound, because Olivier had already passed away.
Oscar recognition came in 1992 with the classic Hannibal Lecter character in The silence of the inocents, to later receive another four nominations for Remains of the day, Nixon, Friendship Y The two popes. In between, he had rejected the character of Alfred in Batman Begins who ended up accepting Michael Caine, as well as being considered to be the villain Freeze before Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin.
Sir Anthony Hopkins has the noble title of Knight of the Order of the British Empire and in fiction he is the only actor who set a record in the history of cinema, having played the King of England (Richard I, the Lionheart), the Prime Minister of England (David Lloyd George), two presidents of the United States (John Quincy Adams and Richard Nixon), in addition to the extremes of the Prime Minister of Israel (Yitzhak Rabin), a Nazi dictator (Adolf Hitler) and the Pope (Benedict XVI).
“I am a very lucky person. In the last five years I shot four low-budget but very good productions. I remember the first one I premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, with Alec Baldwin, The Edge, which we had filmed in Canada. It is my favorite style of cinema, the most intimate films, such as The father, with a great actress like Olivia Coleman, with a compact but very powerful script ”, he concluded.
The piano is another of his passions
“At least I play five days a week. I spend five or four hours at the piano. I love playing Rachmaninoff, music powerful enough to make the virus go away. Well, at least it allows my brain to stay active. The piano was always the most wonderful side of my life. And with the pandemic I discovered that I can do many things in the middle of a quarantine, such as painting, reading and playing the piano in the morning ”.
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