Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins (born 31 December 1937) is a Welsh born American actor. Considered to be one of the greatest living actors, Hopkins is well known for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, its sequel Hannibal and the prequel Red Dragon. Other notable films include The Mask of Zorro, Meet Joe Black, The Lion in Winter, Magic, The Elephant Man, 84 Charing Cross Road, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Legends of the Fall, The Remains of the Day, Amistad, Nixon, The World's Fastest Indian, and Fracture
Along with his Academy Award, Hopkins has also won three BAFTA Awards, two Emmy awards, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In 1993, Hopkins was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Philip Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales. Hopkins is the son of Muriel Yeats -- a distant relative of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats -- and Richard Hopkins. His early years in Wales and schooling at Cowbridge Grammar School were relatively unremarkable, but when the soon-to-be actor met Richard Burton, the course of his life would dramatically change. Encouraged and inspired by Burton, Hopkins enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama when he was only 15 years old.
After graduation in 1957, Anthony Hopkins spent two years in the British Army before moving to London to begin training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After training and working for several years, he became a kind of protégé of the legendary actor Sir Laurence Olivier. In 1965, Olivier invited Hopkins to join the Royal National Theatre and become his understudy. The famed actor wrote in his memoir, "A new young actor in the company of exceptional promise named Anthony Hopkins was understudying me and walked away with the part of Edgar like a cat with a mouse between its teeth." When Olivier came down with appendicitis during a production called Dance of Death, the young Hopkins stepped in, making waves with his performance.
Billed as Olivier's heir to the British acting throne, Hopkins had the momentum to make the leap from stage to film, which was his primary ambition. He started on the small-screen in 1967 with a BBC production of A Flea in Her Ear. Soon after he was cast in The Lion in Winter (1968) as Richard I, sharing the screen with established stars Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.
Career[edit | edit source]
Throughout the 1970s, Hopkins continued to work in film and on stage, garnering critical attention for this double duty. He starred in a Broadway production of Peter Shaffer's Equus (1974) even as he devoted more and more attention to developing his talents for television and film. His method of preparation for roles has always been a source of fascination to critics and young actors alike. Hopkins prefers to memorize his lines in extremis, sometimes repeating them more than 200 times.
The finished product typically reveals a naturalness that skillfully hides the massive amount of rehearsal the actor has done. Because of this style, Hopkins prefers fewer, more spontaneous takes, and has occasionally butted heads with directors who he perceives as deviating from the script too much or demanding too many takes. He has noted in the past that once he says a line and is done with a take, he forgets that line forever.
Hopkins won an Emmy for his role as Bruno Richard Hauptmann in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976). Throughout the 1980s, Hopkins continued to impress the critics with his work in film and TV, winning multiple Emmy Awards and a BAFTA Award.
In 1989, Hopkins returned to the stage for a production of the musical drama M. Butterfly. But it was in 1991 that Hopkins, now well into his fifties, finally found himself shot to superstardom. His unforgettable, 17-minute performance as the infamous psychopath Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs frightened and wowed fans and critics alike. At the time he took the role, Hopkins had been considering giving up on movies and retiring to London for a career on the stage. The fortuitous role resulted in not only an Oscar but a distinguished place in the popular consciousness as perhaps the number one on-screen villain of all time.
Hopkins has since played the role again in the films' sequels. Following up his first real Hollywood blockbuster, Hopkins wisely chose to follow up with his film The Remains of the Day (1993), for which he was nominated for another Academy Award. He would be nominated again for Nixon (1995) and Amistad (1997).
In 1993, Hopkins was knighted by the British Empire. In April 2000, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States and, in 2002, he married his third wife, Colombian-born Stella Arroyave. In 2006, he was awarded the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.
The acclaimed actor has continued to work in major motion pictures in recent years, appearing in such films as Proof (2005), Beowulf (2007) and Thor (2011). More recently, he was cast as famed horror movie director Alfred Hitchcock in the 2012 biopic Hitchcock. Hopkins earned raves for his starring role in the film, which includes Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville. The movie explores the making of Hitchock's horror classic Psycho.