What You Don’t Know About Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins is one of our greatest living actors, no question. His early career was characterized by celebrated theater work, before the Welsh-born star transitioned into movie roles, including the infamous one in The Silence of the Lambs, for which he rightfully won an Oscar (via IMDb). Hopkins shows no signs of slowing down either, appearing in the wildly varied likes of Thor: Ragnarok, The Two Popes, and TV’s Westworld. His role in The Father saw Hopkins nominated for his sixth Academy Award. 

Although he’s known for playing serious types like Richard Nixon and Alfred Hitchcock onscreen, Hopkins has proven himself a fun follow on social media, where the actor frequently shows his goofy side (via Mashable). Probably best known for playing Hannibal Lecter, the Oscar-winner is adept at concealing his private life when required. Hopkins is happy to share what he’s learned over several decades in the business, however, as well as some important and very specific life advice for good measure.

The actor is actually multitalented

Hopkins is obviously a hugely accomplished thespian but, in his private time, the Welshman moonlights as a musician and an artist. He told the The New Yorker playing piano was something he “took to” immediately, after being cajoled into attending lessons by his mother at the age of five, revealing, “I attempt to do very difficult pieces by Rachmaninoff and Chopin and Scriabin.” The actor explained, “I have no ambitions to play at Carnegie Hall or anything like that, but I do it for my own pleasure. I have a Bösendorfer piano, and I hide away down in my basement so that I don’t disturb people.” 

Art is another way to create joy in his quiet time. The actor’s wife encouraged it, after discovering some old drawings Hopkins had done, and nowadays his paintings are in quite high demand (via ARTnews). Legendary FX maestro Stan Winston (Jurassic Park) advised him to simply feel the work, without worrying about being classically trained or not. Hopkins reasoned, “I’ve found that’s a good philosophy in life. Don’t think too much about it. Just do it.” 

He has zero delusions of grandeur

Unlike many actors who go Method and take everything they do incredibly seriously, Hopkins is under no pretense about the value of his contributions to society. As he regaled The Guardian, “I meet young people, and they want to act and they want to be famous, and I tell them, when you get to the top of the tree, there’s nothing up there. Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie. Accept life as it is. Just be grateful to be alive.” 

The actor keeps a photo of himself as a child, with his father close to him to remind the Welsh native of how far he’s come, and how much he has to be grateful for. “I think, ‘Good God, I should be in Port Talbot.’ Either dead, or working in my father’s bakery,” he deadpanned. Hopkins looks back on that photo often, reminding himself, “For some inexplicable reason I’m here, and none of it makes sense. And I look at him and I say, ‘We did OK, kid.'”

Being an alcoholic isn't something he's ashamed of

In December 2020, Hopkins celebrated a whopping 45 years of sobriety with a sweet Twitter message for his fans. “I was drinking myself to death,” he admitted, noting, “I’m not preachy, but I got a message, a little thought that said, ‘Do you want to live or die?’ And I said, ‘I want to live.'” Although the Oscar-winning actor is, rightfully, proud of how far he’s come, Hopkins doesn’t regret that time in his life either, admitting to The Sunday Times that, although he takes no pride in it and wouldn’t want to go back there, “the restlessness and anger was a driving force in my life.” 

He explained, “It moved me places. I made some crazy decisions, which turned out to be beneficial.” In fact, as Hopkins told The Irish Times, being an alcoholic actually helps him, explaining, “Wherever I go, the abyss follows me. It’s a volcanic anger you have, and it’s fuel. Rocket fuel.” The actor also acknowledged, “But of course it can rip you to pieces and kill you. So, gradually, over the years, I have learned not to be a people-pleaser.” 

Hannibal Lecter will always be with him

Silence of the Lambs was, obviously, a major moment for Hopkins. Looking back on the iconic role with co-star and fellow Oscar-winner, Jodie Foster for Variety, the actor noted he requested a fitted prison suit rather than the typical getup because, “I knew what the character looked like.” His strange vocal intonations, meanwhile, hit Hopkins the very first time he read the script. Hopkins stayed in character between takes, with director Jonathan Demme telling him enthusiastically, “Oh my god. You’re so weird” (via Variety).

The filmmaker was equally impressed when Hopkins chose his place in the cell for the first meeting between Lecter and Foster’s character, Clarice, explaining, “I can smell her coming down the corridor.” He may be a serial killing cannibal, but Dr. Lecter came easily to the otherwise softly-spoken and unassuming Welshman, who told AARP, “I have an instinct for those kinds of people. They’re narcissists. I don’t know if that’s in me — I just understand them.” Hopkins acknowledged Lecter will always be with him, but he’s glad of it, revealing he knew immediately it would be “the part of a lifetime.” 

Retirement is not an option

Ageing is a hot topic for Hopkins, who’s in his eighties but shows no signs of slowing down. He told the L.A. Times, “As I get older, I can cry at the drop of a hat because the wonderful, terrible passion of life is so short. I have to believe there’s something bigger than me. I’m just a microbe. That, for me, is the biggest feeling of relief — acknowledging that I am really nothing. I’m compelled to say, whoever’s running the show, thank you very much.” 

Although the celebrated actor is aware of the passing of time, and grateful for his lot in life, Hopkins has no interest in giving up work anytime soon. He admitted his wife thinks retiring might cause him to die of boredom, in fact. As the Welshman quipped, “If they keep offering me jobs, until all my teeth fall out or my hair falls out, I’m going to do whatever they offer me.”

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