WolfmanOz at the Movies #8

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some java beans and a nice Chianti”

Born on December 31st, 1937, Anthony Hopkins is now 84 years old but he is still going strong and has arguably been the finest actor of the last 50 years.

He is, of course, most well-known for portraying Hannibal Lecter in 3 films but his range and achievements have been far broader than just that one role.

His first film role was as Richard the Lionheart in The Lion In Winter (1968) but the first time I really became aware of him was when he starred in the BBC TV adaption of War And Peace as Pierre Bezukhov in which he was outstanding.

I always recall a documentary about the making of the TV series and the cast were asked about their thoughts about it and, of course, the performers were mostly pretentious in their responses, but not Hopkins. He replied “It paid the rent” – which kind of sums him up in that he has never been one for believing the opinions of an actor were anything more special than anyone else.

During the 1970s most of his film roles were mainly supporting roles but he did have a main lead role in Richard Attenborough’s Magic (1978) where he played a ventriloquist whose foul-mouthed dummy begins to take control of him. For students of film history it’s a variation of the segment The Ventriloquist’s Dummy from Dead Of Night (1945).

Hopkins is superb in the role where he actually performed all the scenes as a ventriloquist himself.



His ability to mimic was also utilised in the restored 1991 version of Spartacus (1960) where he voiced Laurence Olivier’s dialogue in the famous Oysters & Snails scene as Olivier had died a few years previously.

In the 1980s he was a sympathetic doctor in The Elephant Man, a complex Captain Bligh in The Bounty and was also quite appealing in the charming 84 Charing Cross Road (1987). But despite his talents in other movies at the time it appeared he was destined never to hit the heights his abilities aspired too . . . and then came the offer to play Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs (1991).

Incredibly his screen time was just under 25 minutes in a film that ran for just under 2 hours but he was absolutely mesmerising as the chilling, incisive and thoroughly evil Dr. Lecter.


One also should never underestimate the impact Jodie Foster’s superb performance had in contributing immeasurably into elevating the film into an instant classic.

Now the great performances were coming thick and fast . . .

He was terrific in both Howard’s End and Shadowlands but it was his under-stated performance as the butler Stevens in The Remains Of The Day (1993) which still haunts today

As the repressed butler, Hopkins was never better in a role so far removed than that of Dr. Lecter.

In Nixon (1995) he was an unusual choice to play the disgraced former US President but he seemed to pull it off; and in 2005 was very enjoyable as the motorcycle racer Burt Munro in The World’s Fastest Indian.

In 2012 he played Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock, where, although the make-up wasn’t totally convincing, he used his mimicry skills to sound very convincing as the Master of Suspense.

And of course last year he won his second Best Actor Oscar for The Father, although I found the film rather ponderous despite his presence.

He’s still making films and maintaining his acting skills at an age where most of us would be in nursing homes – long may it continue !

Enjoy.

27 thoughts on “WolfmanOz at the Movies #8”

  1. Rabz says:
    February 10, 2022 at 8:36 am
    Sacré bleu, Wolfman – Hannibal ate the liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

    Hopkins is one of my favourite actors and was fantastic in the recent Westworld series.

    I was a little distracted yesterday !


    Report comment

    2
  2. His ability to mimic was also utilised in the restored 1991 version of Spartacus (1960) where he voiced Laurence Olivier’s dialogue in the famous Oysters & Snails scene as Olivier had died a few years previously.

    Currently watching on Fetch on Big Screen OLED – look and sounds superb

    P.S. Congrats on the new addition to the family and as First Time Grand-Dad – with 9 Grandkids and Grandkids 7/8/9 – 5/8/10 living with my Wife and I, my youngest daughter and her Husband, Grandkids are a Joy in Life.


    Report comment

    3
  3. Agreed, a great actor. I’ve seen most of those films. My attention was somewhat diverted by the topless dancing Tahitian maidens in The Bounty!
    There was another good one where he was involved in a plane crash in a remote part of Canada or Alaska. The survivors had to try and trek out but were pursued by a large and hungry bear. Suspenseful! Would the bear become bulgy?


    Report comment

    2
  4. Of interest: he appeared in Spotswood as the lead actor. He liked the script so much he travelled to Melbourne to appear in the film. He starred as a consultant attempting to alter the culture of a dying co0mpany making, of all things, ug boots.

    In the film, he failed miserably in this task, just like in the real world of business, but there was a happy ending.

    Spotswood is now a training film for the red pilled.


    Report comment

    4
  5. That performance in Remains of the Day was superb. A man who commits emotional suicide rather than admit reality. It had me thinking about stoical men I had met, especially in my youth, and how like him they were. And, also, what caused them to be like that. Was it war, or a harsh upbringing?

    He has also been blessed with great leading ladies – Foster and Thompson, even Winger in Shadowlands (which I found very illuminating, being a Narniaphile).

    I wonder how many new parents dare to call their daughters Clarice? I can even hear him saying it as I type. 😀


    Report comment

    4
  6. A friend met him years ago. Had a half hour chat with him. Was extremely down to earth. Really surprised my friend with how normal he was. Son of a baker from memory.


    Report comment

    3
  7. Great actor and a humble man- A friend who lives in Queensland and is an alcoholic and drug addict was at an AA meeting some years ago. In the meeting this particular night was a man who just came in, said my name is Tony and said wherever he is in the world he attends an AA meeting because he has to. Turns out it was Anthony Hopkins.


    Report comment

    7
  8. … the finest actor of the last 50 years

    That description is taken by Ben Kingsley, I’m afraid. I measure “fineness” by the degree of suspension of disbelief an actor induces into the role. Ben Kingsley has done it multiple times in the last 30 years. His screen impact is extraordinary. There’s a current Netflix film in which he plays Eichmann hiding in Buenos Aries after WW2, with Israeli hunters closing in … bone chilling.

    For the (my) record, Judi Dench takes the female “finest actor of the last 50 years”. Her ability to suspend disbelief over a range of characters is unsurpassed. Her TV series “As Time Goes By” developed a domestic role so very familiar to most men – simultaneously absolutely loveable and totally infuriating. Then she does a role as a truly evil and destructive bitch in a film with Cate Blanchett (in my view I’m afraid that Blanchett’s lesser ability showed out there) – again Dench is absolutely believable. There is a scene towards the end in that film where the depth of the bile and bitterness in the vindinctive central character is portrayed in one longish take on a closeup of Dench’s face … just brilliant acting.

    Sure, people may disagree …
    moderated

  9. Off topic, Wolfman, and more to do with your previous thread on Westerns and gunslinging, but 1883 (streaming on Paramount) is terrific. Basically, it’s the origins of the Dutton family, who figure so prominently in Yellowstone.

    Only deficiency is that they are releasing the episodes one every week, rather than the Netflix approach of dumping the entire series online in one single swoop.

    And on the topic of new seasons, when is ‘Better Call Saul’ returning? Been too long.


    Report comment

  10. All good areff . . . I’ll try and have a look for 1883.
    Well worth watching .. jus a leetle bit on the slow side but Sam Elliott in a western is always a winner ..!
    It’s a streamer on PARAMOUNT if your searching for it .. up to episode 7 ..


    Report comment

    1
  11. Fully concur with your assessment of Hopkins as one of the greatest film actors of all time.

    He could portray an incredible range of characters from slapstick funny man to evil and creepy villain and carry the role to perfection.

    I have never seen a bad movie with Hopkins as a lead character.


    Report comment

    2
  12. Petros says:
    February 10, 2022 at 10:20 am

    A friend met him years ago. Had a half hour chat with him. Was extremely down to earth. Really surprised my friend with how normal he was. Son of a baker from memory.

    Yes, his father ran a bakery in a small Welsh village and Anthony used to deliver the bread. One of his clients for daily deliveries in the same village was Richard Burton.


    Report comment

    3
  13. I reckon “coffee” beans may go well with liver. 😉

    First grandchild Woolfe! I am so jealous!!! I am surrogate grandmother to three whom I am so enjoying.


    Report comment

    1
  14. Wolfie,
    Great news! Best regards to you and your family.
    BBS

    Ps, another great Hopkins performance is in the film 360. Though a small part – all the parts in the film are – it’s poignant and understated.


    Report comment

    1
  15. How refreshing that Anthony Hopkins is such a down to earth fellow.

    I knew he must be alright when I heard his response to an interviewer who asked him – during the Trump presidency – why he didn’t comment on politics; it went along the lines of “Actors are generally stupid people whose opinions don’t matter.”


    Report comment

    1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *