Anthony Hopkins turns 85

The great Welsh actor, star of films such as “The Silence of the Lambs” by Jonathan Demme, “The Remains of the Day” by James Ivory, “The Mask of Zorro” by Martin Campbell, “The Affair of Thomas Crawford” by G. Hoblit , “Hitchcock” by Sacha Gervasi and many others, turns eighty-five.

Born in Port Talbot – Wales – in 1937, he trained at the Cardiff College of Drama and joined the National Theater of the great Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), where he completed his training as a classical theater actor.

Less known fact about A. Hopkins is that he is also a good musician and composer; in fact, he studied piano since he was a child and would have liked to attend the conservatory, choosing acting instead. Over the years, however, he continued to study Chopin and Bach, and to compose musical pieces, including the soundtrack of the film Slipstream (2007)

He works a lot in television and, after his film debut in The white bus (1967) by Lindsay Anderson – unanimously considered, together with Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz, as the best director of the so-called English Free Cinema of the Sixties – and in The Lion in Winter (1968) by Anthony Harvey, with Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, accepts offers of little risk as adaptations of plays – Hamlet (1969) by Tony Richardson, Doll house (1973) by Patrick Garland – or colossal productions such as Charlot (1992) by Richard Attenborough.

Doesn’t decline bets like The Elephant Man (1980) by David Lynch, a dramatic story centered on pain and human dignity.

After a long career – both stage and film – he achieves vast popularity with the general public with the chilling The silence of the lambs (1991) by Jonathan Demme, in which he played the mass murderer and cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and with which he won an Oscar for Best Actor. His performance is fixed in the collective imagination to the point of making it indispensable even a decade later for Hannibal (2001) by Ridley Scott, the controversial sequel. The calm and composed expression, the distinguished and aristocratic aspect and the calm voice are traits that distinguish him and which make his sudden outbursts of nerves like a furious lunatic even more frightening.

These contrasts have often attenuated philological perfection as in the films – both directed by James Ivory – Howard House (1992), with Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, e What’s left of the day (1993), with E. Thompson, James Fox, Christopher Reeves and Hugh Grant, and with which he gets an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Despite having obtained American citizenship, Anthony Hopkins is proud of his British origins and this is especially clear in his directorial performances: Dylan Thomas: Return Journey (1990), dedicated to the well-known Welsh poet, e August (1996) a variant of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov which takes place in North Wales. Completely change register to the aforementioned Slipstream – In the dark mind of H. (2007), staging of the psychic disturbances of a screenwriter who gradually sees himself overwhelmed by the characters born from his own pen.

As an actor he also plays Professor Coleman Sirk in The human stain (2003) by Robert Benton, based on the homonymous book by Philip Roth and in which he stars with Nicole Kidman, and a talkative Ptolemy in Alexander (2004) by Oliver Stone, with Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie.

Among the other films we mention The mirror of spies (1969) by Frank Pierson, based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré, The Adventure Years (1972) by Richard Attenborough, The Girl From Petrovka (1974) by Robert Ellis Miller, the thriller Juggernaut (1974) by Richard Lester, with Richard Harris, Omar Sharif and David Hemmings, the horror Audrey Rose (1977) by Robert Wise, That last bridge (1977) by R. Attenborough, in which he is part of a cast that also includes Dirk Bogarde, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, James Caan, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Liv Ullmann, and Magic – Magic (1978), also by R. Attenborough, A run on the lawn (1978) by Brian Forbes, with Christopher Plummer, The Bounty (1984) by Roger Donaldson, fifth version of the story of the notorious mutiny – the two best known are The Tragedy of the Bounty (1935) by Frank Lloyd, with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, e Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) by Lewis Milestone, with Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris -, also starring Mel Gibson, Laurence Olivier and the young Liam Neeson and Daniel Day Lewis, 84 Charing Cross Road (1987) by David Hugh Jones, with Judy Dench and Anne Bancroft, Desperate hours (1990) by Michael Cimino – remake of the 1955 Nicholas Ray film of the same name with Humphrey Bogart -, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula (1897) by the Irishman Bram Stoker and also starring Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, The Trial (1993) by David Hugh Jones, Trip to England (1993) by R. Attenborough, with Debra Winger, The intrigues of power – Nixon (1995) by Oliver Stone, which narrates the career of Richard Nixon, and with which he gets an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor – as will happen two years later for friendship (1997) by Steven Spielberg, with Matthew McConaughey and Morgan Freeman -, The mask of Zorro (1998) by Martin Campbell, produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin and also starring and Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letzcher, LQ Jones and Pedro Armendariz Jr., Meet Joe Black (1998) by Martin Brest, with Brad Pitt, Proof – Proof (2005) by John Madden, inspired by the homonymous play by David Auburn, Bobby (2006) by Emilio Estevez, All the King’s Men (2006) by Steven Zaillan, with Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet – remake of the 1949 Robert Rossen film of the same name starring Broderick Crawford, John Ireland and Joanne Dru -, The legend of Beowulf (2007) by Robert Zemeckis, in which he is “computerised” with “performance capture”, The Thomas case Crawford (2007) by Gregory Hoblit, with Rosemund Pike, That golden evening (2009) by James Ivory, You will meet the man of your dreams (2010) by Woody Allen, Thor (2011) by Kenneth Branagh, Hitchcock (2012) by Sacha Gervasi, with Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, Thor: The Dark World (2013) by Alan Taylor.

On the small screen he starred in various TV films – The ear flea (1967) by Michael Hayes, The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens (1970) by Ned Sherrin, Lloyd George (1973), Possessions (1974) by John Irvin, , A violent sweet summer (1977) by Robert Butler, Raid to Entebbe (1976) by Marvin J. Chomsky, The Lindbergh case (1977) by Buzz Kulik, The voyage of the Mayflower (1979) and Bunker (1981) by George Schaefer, Othello (1981) by Colin Lowrey, The hunchback of Notre Dame (1982) by Michael Tuchner, Arch of Triumph (1984) by Waris Hussein, Cross crime (1985) by David Greene, The tenth man (1988) by Jack Gold, Across the Lake (1988) by Tony Maylam, Heartland (1989) by Kevin Billington, A man at war (1991) by Sergio Toledo, The passion of power (1992) by Tony Wharmby, Selected Exirs (1993) by Tristram Powell, The stage servant (2015) e King Lear (2018) by Richard Eyre – and in series and miniseries such as War and peace (1972-73), QB VII (1974) by Tom Gries, A married man (1983) by Charles Jarrott and John Howard Davies, The ladies of Hollywood (1985) by Robert Day, The leader and I (1985) by Alberto Negrin, Great Expectations (1989) by Kevin Connor, Westworld – Where everything goes (2016-18, seventeen episodes).

Still very active in old age, in more recent times he has acted inNoah (2014) by Darren Aronofsky, The Freddy Heineken case (2015) by Daniel Alfredson, Conspiracy – The conspiracy (2016) by Shintaro Shimosawa, Thor: Ragnarok (2017) by Taika Waititi, The two popesby Fernando Meirelles, with Jonathan Pryce and Renato Scarpa, with which he gets his fifth Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, The FatherNothing is as it seems (2020) by Florian Zeller, with Olivia Colman, Sicario – Last assignment(2021) by Nick Stagliano, Armageddon Time – The time of the apocalypse, (2022) by James Gray, The Son (2022) by Florian Zeller, with Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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