Anthony Hopkins Talking Pictures


Anthony Hopkins

A look back at the life of Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, featuring interviews conducted with the BBC over the course of his career.


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Transcript


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Anthony Hopkins was born in the Welsh town of Port Talbot,

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just like the man who inspired him to become an actor, Richard Burton.

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He struggled at school,

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but in his twenties was understudying Laurence Olivier

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at the National Theatre

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and in his thirties was a major television star,

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thanks to a BBC adaptation of War And Peace.

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Hopkins would be called the best stage actor of his generation,

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but fell increasingly in love with film

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and out of love with the theatre,

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famously walking out of a 1973 production of Macbeth

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midway through its run.

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You got big roles at the National, Coriolanus,

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and then the big walk-out from Macbeth.

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Oh, yes.

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My bad years.

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Why were they bad years?

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I was a bad boy. I was trouble, I was a rebel.

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I was discontented, I was angry and fed up.

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And hated being part of an establishment

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and hated doing Shakespeare.

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It was all my own making, I was the enemy within, you know.

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It was all my own making, nobody else's fault.

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Everyone did their best to, you know, cater to my needs.

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Were you drinking at that time?

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Oh, yes. But all actors drink.

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That was just an episode in my life that's over and done with,

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and that's a boring episode.

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I don't think it helped.

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But I was restless, I wanted to get out and I was frightened.

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I was afraid I was taking on this monumental part

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and I never pretended that I had the courage to do these

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great parts like Macbeth and King Lear.

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I never said I could do them.

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I never thought I'd have the courage to do them.

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It takes a lot of courage to do them, I didn't have that.

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I didn't have the sustaining power.

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I didn't have the discipline to learn verse

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and I just couldn't get it.

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And it got from bad to worse.

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I think I reached a crisis of nerves,

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I lost my nerve and I just one day walked out,

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because I couldn't...

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The screaming voice of John Dexter.

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One day, I thought, that's it, I'm off.

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And I got on the bus and left and I never looked back.

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I'm not proud of any of that, but I'm glad I did it.

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I made my amends, I wrote back to Olivier and said,

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"I'm sorry I did that, but I had to go".

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And no regrets, no shame about that, it's over and done with.

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But I had to do it, otherwise I would have gone mad.

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Anthony Hopkins didn't just leave Macbeth, he left Britain

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and spent years living in America,

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carving out a career as a movie star.

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How did you get into films rather than the theatre?

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-Your first film, of course, was The Lion In Winter, wasn't it?

-Yes.

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How?

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Well, I make the starting admission...

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I came to a startling conclusion a few months back,

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that I really always wanted to do films and...

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I'd spent so much time doing what I thought other people

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expected me to do, and we tend to do that a lot of the time,

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and I made up my mind a few weeks ago, a few months ago,

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that I really enjoy films.

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I have a marvellous time, I love filming and I love television

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and I like the theatre, but...

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And I'm sure I will go back to the theatre, but... I don't know.

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I hate it when it goes wrong, and you just have to go on stage,

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night after night after night when it's wrong,

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when it's been badly conceived.

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And I've had a couple of negative experiences

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that way in recent years.

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I'm pretty firm, the way I work now,

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and I have a talk with the director before we start,

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asking him how he works.

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And I will tell him how I work, and I expect him

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to do his homework, as I'm expected to do mine.

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Before, I used to politely stand there and take it, take nonsense.

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And now I don't do it, because it's my job,

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and if I'm not satisfied, I walk away.

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And I will always walk away if I'm not satisfied, because I don't

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see why should put myself through the mill

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for the sake of incompetence.

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And I don't.

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It's probably very offensive to some people,

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and they probably don't like it.

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I had an experience recently, in the last two-and-a-half years,

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I won't mention names or the play, But it was a nightmare.

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A director who hadn't prepared a thing

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and it was a big, big play with two weeks' rehearsal.

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I don't want to go over old ground, but I made the mistake

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of being politely accepting of this man's incompetence

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until it was too late, and then I blew up.

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It was an enormous explosion.

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Now I've learned from that lesson, hopefully not to put up with it

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and to be honest, because it's only dishonesty that allows

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one to put up with nonsense and incompetence.

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So maybe I sound terribly pompous, but now I say,

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"No, I won't put up with it. I'm not going to do that".

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When you left Britain after your years in the National Theatre,

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did people accuse you of deserting British theatre,

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-of selling out to money and stardom?

-Oh, yes.

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Yes. I suppose I have sold out.

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I did whatever it means. No...

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I suppose I'm going through a kind of period of change, myself.

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I don't know.

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I find it more important for me to enjoy my life,

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to get on with my life, my living...

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Aside from work,

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I found that nose-to-the-grindstone attitude in the theatre

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all the time, taking everything so seriously was making me, in a way...

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I don't know.

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I suppose uptight and neurotic and...

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And I left the theatre and went off to Israel

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and I did a film, QB VII, and then I went off to America

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and I feel more at ease, I feel more confident in myself,

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I just feel happier.

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Happier than I've ever been.

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Because there's no panic.

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If I do Othello, I hope I do it well, of course...

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But I haven't the great need to play Shakespeare,

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I haven't the great need to do the classics,

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I have no great need or urgency to do Ibsen or play Sophocles.

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You know, if I play it, I play it,

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and if I don't, I don't. It's a very good opportunity,

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for me to play Othello...

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I feel free. And I didn't in the theatre, I just didn't.

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So I suppose I've sold out. I just didn't feel free.

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I felt hemmed in and cooped up.

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Maybe I don't have the nature or the discipline.

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I got bored very quickly.

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To fight that propensity for boredom,

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Hopkins has taken on roles that are intense and challenging.

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One such example was a schizophrenic ventriloquist

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in Richard Attenborough's 1978 film, Magic.

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-DUMMY:

-Why do you think I blew the whistle?

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Er, because I was leaving, because you were jealous.

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Wrong, Smucko! I did it because I could. See?

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Why didn't you stop me?

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Answer? You didn't because you couldn't!

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Look at him, he still doesn't understand!

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Better sit down, kid, while I hit you with an explanation!

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Yeah...

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Ever since we got together, I laid low. It was best for the act.

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I let you share the limelight.

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If there's one thing about me, I'm big!

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But then the day when I begged you, pleaded not to be left behind,

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well, that tore it.

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If I'm boring you, please walk around. I don't care.

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Don't start in on me, please! Don't!

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Listen, I took a failure, worked a charm,

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I took a dig at Nixon, I made us skyrocket!

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It's not going to be you and her, it's going to stay you and me,

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except from now on, even that's changed, it's ME and YOU!

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-You've got a weak stomach!

-You look tired!

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-I'm not!

-Then what are you yawning for?

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-I'm not yawning!

-Gotta wake you up! Crawl around! That should help.

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Heh, yeah! Pick those up.

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-Say, "Thank you, Fats!"

-Thank you, Fats!

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That's a very, very chilling film, as I said.

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In fact, what's remarkable about it is you did your own "vent" work

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-in that, didn't you?

-Yes, yes.

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Who taught you?

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A man called Dennis Allwood, in America.

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And a man called Michael Bailey taught me the magic tricks.

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I only learned a few, but he taught me the basics.

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What about the "vent" though, first of all.

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How difficult is it to throw your voice like that,

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Without moving your lips, as they say?

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Well, I found it fairly easy, mainly because I'm an actor, you know,

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you have to keep your voice flexible, and I was willing to learn

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and I decided that the only way I could do it was to enjoy it.

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And I've been a mimic as well,

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so I found it fairly easy and had a good teacher.

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-Maybe I was a good student.

-Can you still do it?

-Um... Yes, I can.

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-IN VENTRILOQUIST'S VOICE:

-Hi, Michael, how you doing? Good to see you.

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-Hi, gang. You OK?

-LAUGHTER

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-Fantastic!

-What are the words you can't say?

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Bottle of beer, that's the classic one.

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-"Gottle o' geer, gottle o' geer".

-LAUGHTER

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-It's the "P", "F" and "B" sounds, all those plosive sounds.

-Yes.

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You have to use the lips, so you translate them into...

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-"F" sound is...

-HE LISPS

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-So instead of saying fantastic you say "Thantastic!"

-Yeah.

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What about the tricks? The little magic tricks that you had to learn?

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Because the guy in fact did a magic act

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-as well as the vent act in the movie?

-Yeah.

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Well, Michael Bailey taught me the bits of magic,

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because I couldn't handle cards, so he taught me one-hand shuffles

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and cuts and also the fanning and a coin trick,

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which is basically... This is a classic which is called

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The French Drop and it's... So you see.

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And there it is.

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LAUGHTER

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I enjoyed learning them. I play the piano so I'm able to...

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-Oh, I can still do it.

-Yes.

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Now, you had to learn... APPLAUSE

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You mentioned that it was all made easier for you,

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-because you have this gift of mimicry?

-Yes.

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-Now, have you always have this?

-Ever since I was a little kid, yes.

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-You used to take off schoolteachers?

-Schoolteachers.

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It was my only weapon, really,

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because I was not too sharp at school, I didn't like authority,

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especially schoolteachers,

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so I always had a go at them, through mimicry.

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And later, when I became an actor, I always had a go at directors,

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so I used to be a very good mimic, of some directors

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-I wasn't too happy with.

-Did you use it as a weapon?

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-I used to. But I use it out of the affection now.

-You do?

-Yes.

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It has been said of you

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that you're one of the best mimics in the business.

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-You specialise in doing the act at nights, don't you?

-Yes.

-Yes.

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Are you going to... I love mimics.

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-Let's start with... Well, everybody does Gielgud, don't they?

-Oh, yes.

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-AS GIELGUD:

-To be, or not to be, that is the question.

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Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings

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and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms above a sea

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of troubles and by opposing, end them,

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to die, to sleep no more.

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-Olivier, doing the same one? AS OLIVIER:

-To be, or not to be,

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that is the question.

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Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings

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and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms

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against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.

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To die, to sleep no more, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache

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and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.

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APPLAUSE

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Can you do one of my favourites, Sir Ralph.

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To be, or not to be,

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that is the question.

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Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows

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of outrageous fortune, or to take arms

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against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE That's brilliant.

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One you proffered before we came on,

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that was one I'd not heard, James Mason.

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To be or not to be, that is the question...

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LAUGHTER

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Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows

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of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles...

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APPLAUSE

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I have a lot of fun doing that.

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-Can you pick up like a tape recorder, Tony?

-Yes.

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You find you can play back most people?

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-Yeah... What, do you mean do I have do I have to listen or study?

-Yes.

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No, they come by accident.

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Or sometimes listening to somebody else who may sound like them.

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I remember Michael York, who sounds a little bit like James Mason,

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I got it by listening to Michael and I got the James Mason through him,

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or the Alec Guinness... Actually, I was reading a preface in a book

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Alec Guinness had written, and suddenly, his voice came to me.

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And suddenly it all sounded rather... like that, you know,

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and "Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy".

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No, so I got the Alec Guinness as well.

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-Yes.

-I didn't know how I got them.

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-I use them as fun, I use them out of affection.

-Yes.

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You're over here now, you're making a film

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which we won't see for a year or so called The Elephant Man,

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which is a rather strange story.

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Would you tell us about it?

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Yes, so, a very touching story about a man called John Merrick who was

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so seriously deformed, I don't know the nature of his disease was,

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but he had a very large head and one side of his body, totally deformed.

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And he was a sideshow freak and he was cruelly beaten

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and treated very badly.

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He was born like this, and the part I play is Dr Frederic Treves.

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And Treves found him the circus, in the sideshow,

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and took him back to a London hospital and kept in there

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and he met tremendous opposition

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from the Board of Governors of the hospital.

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But John Merrick could speak and he could read and he could write

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and he became a centrepiece for society in London -

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this is about the 1880s -

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and Princess Alexandra visited him and Queen Victoria sent a telegram

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to Treves, congratulating him on his humanitarianism.

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And Merrick died, I think, in his twenties, he suffocated.

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He couldn't sleep on his back, because of the weight of the head,

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so he used to sleep sitting up.

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It really is a tremendous script, one of the best ones.

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It's a very touching story.

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One of Hopkins's biggest films after The Elephant Man involved

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another intense character.

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Captain Bligh in The Bounty,

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Hollywood's 1984 version of the famous naval mutiny story.

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-Put those bloody fires out!

-I want my opinion in the log...

-Mr Cole!

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Have that lashed down, I want all men on deck, now!

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-I want my opinion in the log!

-Very well, Mr Fryer.

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If that's what you wish, you shall have it.

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The ship can't stand it!

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This script is a more accurate version,

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more historically accurate than the other two films.

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We're not trying to steal a march on the other two films,

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but it is more historically accurate.

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Bligh wasn't the sadistic monster

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that Charles Laughton brilliantly created.

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He was a great seaman, a great navigator.

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He was Cook's navigator on the Pacific voyages.

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Bad-tempered, no sense of humour.

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But a just man, not an unjust man at all.

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-KNOCKING ON DOOR

-Enter!

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Can I have a word with you?

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I'm busy, is it important?

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I think, yes.

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Be brief.

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William, about your decision to go round the Horn.

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"William"?

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Not "Sir"? Not "Captain"?

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"William".

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I don't think the men will have it.

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Oh, the men won't have it? Are they in charge of The Bounty?

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-They might be, if you insist.

-Again, would you repeat that, please?

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The men "might be in charge". What are you threatening me with?

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It's not a threat, it's a warning.

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-Oh, there are rumblings, are there?

-No.

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There is fear.

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Around the Horn is the easiest way, the better way

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and that is how we will go. Anything more?

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Don't put Adams under the lash.

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He was insubordinate.

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Cowardly and insubordinate!

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He frightened the men.

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I do not put that fear there, he did.

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So he will be lashed and we will go round the Horn.

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Are you frightened to go round the Horn, Mr Christian?

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Are you a coward too, sir?

0:16:530:16:56

Start the rain, we're getting them wet.

0:16:560:16:58

We're shooting the storm scene, where The Bounty's attempting

0:16:580:17:02

to go round the Horn.

0:17:020:17:04

So we've got the boat on rockers, the interior's on rockers.

0:17:040:17:07

We were all beginning to feel seasick, really,

0:17:070:17:10

because they do rock and one of the actors was seasick last week.

0:17:100:17:14

And we've got about 50 tonnes of water,

0:17:140:17:16

I don't know if we're going to use the lot today.

0:17:160:17:18

So we've all got wet suits on under our costumes.

0:17:180:17:22

Captain Bligh may have been a monster in the eyes of some,

0:17:230:17:27

but that was nothing compared to the character that, in 1991,

0:17:270:17:30

would transform Anthony Hopkins's career for ever.

0:17:300:17:34

That was of course, Dr Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs.

0:17:340:17:39

The part turned Hopkins from a star into a superstar.

0:17:400:17:46

His mesmerising performance won him that year's Oscar

0:17:460:17:49

for the Best Leading Actor,

0:17:490:17:51

and the very next day, he made this appearance on the Wogan show.

0:17:510:17:54

Welcome, live from the St James's Club, LA,

0:17:540:17:57

cuddly cannibal, Anthony Hopkins!

0:17:570:17:59

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

0:17:590:18:05

Now, Anthony. Welcome and congratulations!

0:18:070:18:11

Thank you, Terry.

0:18:110:18:12

Now, I haven't seen the movie, but were you good?

0:18:120:18:15

I was OK... What d'you mean you haven't seen it?

0:18:150:18:18

-You haven't seen...

-THEY LAUGH

0:18:180:18:21

-I read the book! I read the book. Were you good in that?

-You did?

0:18:210:18:25

I was good in the book. Not so good in the film,

0:18:250:18:27

in the book I was terrific.

0:18:270:18:29

How do you feel this morning?

0:18:290:18:31

Well, er, still baffled.

0:18:330:18:37

Still... I'm coming down off cloud nine a bit, now.

0:18:370:18:41

I'm just feeling... I still can't believe it, that I got this thing.

0:18:410:18:45

It's a wonderful honour.

0:18:450:18:47

I'm looking forward to coming home, back to England,

0:18:470:18:49

I was so astounded at the Oscars ceremony when they called my name.

0:18:490:18:54

I thought they were going to call Nick Nolte, you know.

0:18:540:18:57

So it was a heady experience, it was like a dream.

0:19:000:19:03

I knew I was going to wake up any minute,

0:19:030:19:05

and I didn't know what to say to anyone.

0:19:050:19:08

I didn't know who to thank, and it all went out of my head.

0:19:080:19:11

Have you spoken to your mum yet?

0:19:110:19:14

Yeah, I phoned her.

0:19:140:19:15

I phoned her from the Academy, from the press room.

0:19:150:19:19

And she was staying with some friends of ours,

0:19:190:19:22

Eve and Jean Williams and Jill and Tony,

0:19:220:19:27

and I phoned her and I think they were all sipping the champagne

0:19:270:19:30

and getting really, truly plastered, I believe.

0:19:300:19:33

I think they were all over the moon.

0:19:330:19:35

I was just... I didn't know what I was doing.

0:19:350:19:38

I was just out in left field, I didn't know what I was doing.

0:19:380:19:42

I was just so stunned by it all.

0:19:420:19:44

I really didn't expect it.

0:19:440:19:46

Although during in the ceremony when Billy Crystal

0:19:460:19:49

was making those kind of comments

0:19:490:19:50

and coming on with a mask, dressed as Hannibal Lecter,

0:19:500:19:53

I wondered if I had a better chance and I still said,

0:19:530:19:55

"No, they'll give it to Nick Nolte",

0:19:550:19:57

who is a wonderful actor, but I'm glad they gave it to me anyway.

0:19:570:20:02

What's that you've got on the table in front of you?

0:20:020:20:05

This is... What, the orange juice or the coffee? That's the Oscar.

0:20:050:20:08

That's the Oscar.

0:20:080:20:10

Be careful of it, because I understand they are cheaply made

0:20:100:20:13

and it'll chip if you let it drop.

0:20:130:20:15

Yes, it bends, you know.

0:20:150:20:17

No, it's a great piece of work, actually.

0:20:170:20:20

It's very heavy.

0:20:200:20:22

It's...very heavy.

0:20:220:20:24

It hasn't been a bad year for you.

0:20:240:20:26

I mean, you got the BAFTA awards the other weekend

0:20:260:20:28

and now you've got this.

0:20:280:20:30

I didn't expect that, either.

0:20:300:20:32

I think the reason you didn't expect it, presumably,

0:20:330:20:36

was, in all modesty,

0:20:360:20:38

is because you're the third Briton in succession

0:20:380:20:41

to actually win the Oscar for Best Actor.

0:20:410:20:44

Daniel Day Lewis and then, last year, Jeremy Irons and now you.

0:20:440:20:47

I mean, that's the unexpected element, isn't it?

0:20:470:20:50

Well, it just goes to show so much for...

0:20:500:20:53

You know, the tremendous generosity of America.

0:20:530:20:57

They are the most generous people one could imagine.

0:20:570:20:59

You know, they don't seem to...hold their punches.

0:20:590:21:02

When they want you to have something, they'll give it to you.

0:21:020:21:05

I think...it's fantastic.

0:21:050:21:07

They know no bounds with generosity.

0:21:070:21:09

I was... Of course I expected it, maybe, just slightly political thing

0:21:090:21:12

that they would give it to an American.

0:21:120:21:15

But when they gave it to me, I was so...

0:21:150:21:16

..shocked...

0:21:170:21:19

and that shows how generous the Americans are.

0:21:190:21:23

They're an amazing people.

0:21:230:21:25

They were encouraging me right the way through saying,

0:21:250:21:27

"You're going to get it, you're going to get it." I said, "Don't tell me that!"

0:21:270:21:30

They said, "You're going to get it, we want you to get it."

0:21:300:21:33

I mean, they are amazing people.

0:21:330:21:34

It's a great privilege being here.

0:21:340:21:36

It's all the more remarkable in view of the fact that

0:21:360:21:38

the film was released in America before last year's Oscars ceremony,

0:21:380:21:42

so one would have thought that no matter how good it was

0:21:420:21:44

they would have forgotten about it.

0:21:440:21:47

Yes, well, I guess that goes with the nature of the book -

0:21:470:21:50

because it's a brilliantly written book -

0:21:500:21:53

and Ted Tally's amazing screenplay.

0:21:530:21:55

And then you get a combination like Jonathan Demme as a director

0:21:550:21:58

and you put a couple of people like you know...

0:21:580:22:00

The actors, sort of, showed up and did their bit, you know.

0:22:000:22:02

But when you get a good script like Ted Tally's script, screenplay,

0:22:020:22:06

based on a sensational book,

0:22:060:22:09

you know that you have a good chance of it being a good success.

0:22:090:22:12

It doesn't always work, but...

0:22:120:22:14

I sensed that it was going to be a big box office hit

0:22:140:22:16

because the book was such a top bestseller.

0:22:160:22:19

And...

0:22:190:22:21

So we had a good combination going in.

0:22:210:22:22

But, you know, you can always make mistakes.

0:22:220:22:24

But I'm glad it proved to be a very successful film.

0:22:240:22:28

And I'm glad to be sitting here with...Mr Oscar.

0:22:280:22:32

And I never imagined I'd have one of these.

0:22:320:22:35

Can you explain how the character of Hannibal Lecter...

0:22:350:22:38

..such a character manages to hold

0:22:400:22:42

such a sway in the public's imagination?

0:22:420:22:44

And even the Academy voter's imagination

0:22:440:22:48

or memory over such a long period?

0:22:480:22:50

Yeah... Well, I don't know,

0:22:510:22:52

I don't have any psychological theories about it,

0:22:520:22:55

but I think what it is

0:22:550:22:57

is the old Beauty and the Beast syndrome

0:22:570:22:59

or the old Beauty and the Beast theme.

0:22:590:23:02

I mean, there is a man who has a potential for love,

0:23:020:23:04

strangely enough, in his own dark way, in his own...

0:23:040:23:07

strange way.

0:23:070:23:09

And yet he's a man who's trapped in a monstrous brain,

0:23:090:23:12

like Quasimodo was trapped in a deformed and tragic body.

0:23:120:23:15

And I think that Hannibal Lecter's trapped in this

0:23:150:23:18

distorted and extraordinary mind

0:23:180:23:20

and will never be able to get out of it.

0:23:200:23:22

But he has a human capacity for understanding,

0:23:220:23:25

a tremendous capacity for understanding,

0:23:250:23:28

and he understands Clarice Starling, Jodie Foster.

0:23:280:23:30

And when she confronts him,

0:23:300:23:31

I think he admires her, I think he loves her in a way

0:23:310:23:34

and he would never harm her if he ever got out.

0:23:340:23:36

But you can't let this man out

0:23:360:23:38

because he's a lethal killing machine.

0:23:380:23:41

I guess that's something that maybe an audience recognises

0:23:410:23:44

or in the book that made him so popular

0:23:440:23:46

because there is that potential there, hidden deep down.

0:23:460:23:49

And, I guess, I suppose...audiences or readers respond

0:23:490:23:53

deep in themselves in a way.

0:23:530:23:54

I don't want to make it sound heavy going,

0:23:540:23:57

but I think that's what it is. As you asked me, that's my theory.

0:23:570:23:59

Well, one of the reasons that I'm interviewing you, so far away,

0:23:590:24:03

is because, quite frankly, after that movie,

0:24:030:24:06

I'm fairly apprehensive of you.

0:24:060:24:08

And I imagine that most people

0:24:080:24:10

wouldn't really want to sit beside your at dinner, would they?

0:24:100:24:13

No... I...

0:24:150:24:16

No, they all get up and leave

0:24:160:24:17

when I go into a restaurant. People just get up and leave.

0:24:170:24:20

No... People don't respond in any different way.

0:24:200:24:23

I tell them I'm a vegetarian.

0:24:230:24:25

TERRY CHUCKLES, AUDIENCE LAUGHS

0:24:250:24:27

What about a sequel? Is there a sequel planned to this?

0:24:270:24:30

Surely there must be.

0:24:300:24:32

Well, Thomas Harris is writing the book now, I believe,

0:24:320:24:35

or so they tell me

0:24:350:24:36

and Jonathan Demme is waiting with bated breath for the screenplay

0:24:360:24:40

and the book to come out.

0:24:400:24:42

And Jodie Foster said to me, "We've got to do the second one."

0:24:420:24:45

So...I hope we do.

0:24:450:24:47

Um...

0:24:470:24:48

I don't know where it's going to take place

0:24:480:24:50

or what shape the story's going to be,

0:24:500:24:51

but it would be interesting to do it again,

0:24:510:24:53

I hope in the not too distant future. And then I think that's it.

0:24:530:24:56

I don't want to go on playing men like this,

0:24:560:24:59

but it was the highlight of my acting life, I suppose,

0:24:590:25:02

to get a part like that.

0:25:020:25:04

When I read it I thought, this is a sensational part of a lifetime.

0:25:040:25:08

And I'd like to have one more crack at him, you know.

0:25:080:25:11

Well, look, I'm sure it will be a few days more

0:25:110:25:15

before the full realisation sets in.

0:25:150:25:18

Do enjoy the enormous success.

0:25:180:25:21

I'm sure every producer in Hollywood has beaten a path to your door.

0:25:210:25:24

We wish you continued success

0:25:240:25:26

and, of course, the congratulations of everybody here to Anthony Hopkins.

0:25:260:25:29

Thank you, Terry.

0:25:290:25:30

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

-Thank you very much.

0:25:300:25:33

That Oscar win did trigger an incredible run

0:25:370:25:39

of award-winning films that further confirmed Hopkins' reputation

0:25:390:25:44

as one of our greatest screen actors.

0:25:440:25:47

Here he is discussing one such role with Jonathan Ross.

0:25:470:25:50

But there were a few things you do in Howards End

0:25:510:25:53

which struck me as being not only brilliant and very moving,

0:25:530:25:56

but, also, I can't imagine they were in the script.

0:25:560:25:58

-In particular, the character you play, Mr Wilcox...

-Yes.

0:25:580:26:01

There are two events in the movie

0:26:010:26:03

when he is talking about something shameful in his past.

0:26:030:26:06

And both times he does not wish to be looked upon,

0:26:060:26:09

he doesn't want to make eye contact with his wife,

0:26:090:26:12

he kind of hides his face away.

0:26:120:26:13

-Do you remember those moments?

-Oh, I did that.

-Yeah.

0:26:130:26:15

Henry.

0:26:160:26:18

Henry,

0:26:210:26:23

Look at me.

0:26:230:26:24

So...

0:26:280:26:29

You were that woman's lover?

0:26:290:26:31

-Since you put it with your usual delicacy, yes, I was.

-When?

0:26:320:26:36

When, please.

0:26:370:26:38

-BRUSQUELY:

-Ten years ago.

0:26:380:26:39

HE SIGHS

0:26:410:26:42

I'm sorry, ten years ago.

0:26:420:26:44

I don't know. Maybe I'd seen it in a movie somewhere.

0:26:440:26:46

I think Charles Laughton did it in Hunchback Of Notre Dame,

0:26:460:26:49

or something, hid his face.

0:26:490:26:51

It may have been... I think it was that.

0:26:510:26:53

Maybe I stole it. It was a good piece to steal!

0:26:530:26:55

He says, "How ugly I am," and he puts his...

0:26:570:26:59

-I think I stole that.

-It's a wonderful moment

0:26:590:27:02

and it really, kind of, breaks through, as well, because...

0:27:020:27:04

Oh, and then he breaks down, doesn't he at the end?

0:27:040:27:07

He couldn't bear to be seen crying, yes, showing of emotion.

0:27:070:27:10

I think that's why I have a lot in common with these characters.

0:27:100:27:13

I don't like bearing emotion much.

0:27:130:27:15

Maybe it's a British thing, maybe it's a male thing,

0:27:160:27:18

but I don't like it, I don't like displays of tears and...

0:27:180:27:22

Urgh, you know.

0:27:220:27:23

I can imagine you must feel quite uncomfortable on Oscar night, then.

0:27:230:27:26

Oh, God, I... I can barely watch them. I can't watch them.

0:27:260:27:30

Howards End and how he got into his part

0:27:300:27:33

also came up in this Barry Norman interview from 1993,

0:27:330:27:38

a year that saw the release of two of Hopkins' best-loved films -

0:27:380:27:42

The Remains Of The Day and Shadowlands.

0:27:420:27:46

Let's have a look at another film...

0:27:460:27:49

one of your more recent ones, Howards End.

0:27:490:27:52

How did you get a handle on the character you played in that?

0:27:520:27:55

-It was the moustache did it.

-Ah!

0:27:550:27:57

Yeah.

0:27:570:27:58

So I went to the make-up room

0:27:580:28:00

and they said, "Would you wear a moustache?"

0:28:000:28:02

I said, "Well, I haven't grown one, no."

0:28:020:28:04

She said, "Well, I've got one for you."

0:28:040:28:05

I said, "OK, well, let's put it on."

0:28:050:28:07

I put it on and I said, "There's the man."

0:28:070:28:09

And it made me feel like my grandfather,

0:28:090:28:11

my father's father, who was a very strict Victorian.

0:28:110:28:14

And I looked in the mirror and I thought, "That's him."

0:28:140:28:16

And it did something my eyes, it did something to my face.

0:28:160:28:19

It gave it a sort of edge and it made my eyes stand out.

0:28:190:28:22

I thought, "This man is a ruthless man and he's a tough man,"

0:28:220:28:25

and I could see him in the dark suit.

0:28:250:28:28

So I didn't have to do much work on top of that.

0:28:280:28:30

-Well, have a look and see if it works now.

-Oh, yeah.

0:28:300:28:32

Miss Schlegel...

0:28:370:28:39

..Margaret.

0:28:400:28:41

I don't think you quite understand.

0:28:420:28:44

Oh, yes, indeed, yes.

0:28:440:28:46

I'm asking you to be my wife.

0:28:460:28:47

Yes, I know.

0:28:470:28:49

I know.

0:28:490:28:51

Are you offended?

0:28:510:28:53

How could I be?

0:28:530:28:54

-Well, perhaps I should have written first? I...

-No, no.

0:28:540:28:57

Rather you will receive a letter from me.

0:28:570:28:59

-Thank you.

-Not at all.

0:28:590:29:01

And it's you I thank.

0:29:010:29:03

Um...

0:29:050:29:06

Should I order the motor round now?

0:29:080:29:10

That would be most kind.

0:29:130:29:14

-That's a nice scene, that, isn't it?

-Nice scene, yes.

0:29:270:29:29

I enjoyed that.

0:29:290:29:31

Is it true that before you actually go on the set

0:29:310:29:33

for the first day's filming,

0:29:330:29:34

you will probably have read the script up to 150 times?

0:29:340:29:38

-Yeah.

-You must know everybody's part, then, not just yours?

0:29:400:29:43

Ah, yes... More or less.

0:29:430:29:46

What I do is I take the scenes and I go over them and over them.

0:29:460:29:49

I sometimes go over them 200 times.

0:29:490:29:52

Sounds obsessive, but it is a bit obsessive.

0:29:520:29:54

And I go over...a scene, loud.

0:29:540:29:58

Once I know it, it's like putting a cake in the oven

0:29:580:30:01

and letting it bake.

0:30:010:30:02

And I hope that in that process,

0:30:020:30:05

that I'll be physically relaxed enough

0:30:050:30:08

so that when they say, "Action," or

0:30:080:30:09

"Let's go to rehearse," or whatever...

0:30:090:30:11

..the part will flow through me in some way.

0:30:130:30:16

What about this "understated sexuality" of yours

0:30:160:30:18

that I keep reading about?

0:30:180:30:19

-Do you notice it? Does your wife notice it?

-Understated?

-Sexuality.

0:30:190:30:22

Every time I read a profile of you,

0:30:220:30:24

it talks about Hopkins' "understated sexuality".

0:30:240:30:26

-I'm deeply envious of it.

-Are you!

0:30:260:30:28

-Where does it come from?

-I've never heard of it. I mean, I don't know.

0:30:280:30:32

I get... I laugh

0:30:320:30:34

because I think I'm a bandy-legged balding Welshman, you know.

0:30:340:30:37

And...

0:30:370:30:39

I don't feel at all sexy.

0:30:390:30:42

I'm told that...some of the ladies like me.

0:30:420:30:44

-I don't know what to say - I blush a bit.

-You would do, wouldn't you?

0:30:440:30:47

My wife says, "If they could only see you first thing in the morning!"

0:30:470:30:50

But, no, I don't know, you know, I mustn't take myself too seriously.

0:30:500:30:53

-It's very pleasant.

-Yes, yes.

0:30:530:30:55

But I... Is that what they say?

0:30:550:30:57

-That's what they say, yes.

-No!

-Yeah, there you go.

0:30:570:30:59

The new film, the one we're about to see soon,

0:30:590:31:02

The Remains Of The Day, which I think is, in many ways,

0:31:020:31:04

the best role you've had because you dominate that film,

0:31:040:31:07

you're in practically every scene.

0:31:070:31:09

I mean, it's really a film about wasted lives, in a way, isn't it?

0:31:090:31:13

It is about all our lives, really, isn't it?

0:31:130:31:15

About every human being, you know.

0:31:150:31:17

How we hold ourselves back from the real abundance of life.

0:31:170:31:22

We've got a clip of that too, we can refresh your memory.

0:31:220:31:25

It's so recent, I'm sure it doesn't need refreshing but there we go.

0:31:250:31:28

Oh, God! Stevens.

0:31:280:31:31

I'm most sorry, sir.

0:31:310:31:34

But I do have something to convey to you rather urgently, sir.

0:31:340:31:37

If I may be permitted, I'll come straight to the point.

0:31:370:31:40

Perhaps you will have noticed this morning, sir,

0:31:400:31:42

the ducks and the geese by the pond?

0:31:420:31:45

Ducks and geese? No, I don't think so, Stevens.

0:31:450:31:47

Well, perhaps the birds and the flowers, then,

0:31:470:31:52

or the, um, the shrubs and the bees.

0:31:520:31:55

-No, I've not seen any bees.

-Yes.

0:31:550:31:57

Well, this is in fact not the best time of the year

0:31:570:31:59

-to see them in their full glory, sir.

-What, the bees?

0:31:590:32:03

No, sir. What I'm trying to say, sir, with the arrival of spring

0:32:030:32:06

we shall see a most remarkable and profound change

0:32:060:32:10

in all these surroundings, sir.

0:32:100:32:12

Yeah, I'm sure that's right. The grounds are not at their best now.

0:32:120:32:16

-No, sir.

-I have to say I wasn't really paying much attention

0:32:160:32:18

to the old glories of nature because it's all rather worrying,

0:32:180:32:21

you know, um, Dupont D'Ivry has arrived

0:32:210:32:23

in the foulest mood imaginable,

0:32:230:32:24

which is the last thing anyone wants.

0:32:240:32:26

Monsieur Dupont D'Ivry has arrived, sir?

0:32:260:32:28

Yeah, half an hour ago, in a really foul mood.

0:32:280:32:30

In that case, please excuse me. I better go attend to him, sir.

0:32:300:32:35

That's my favourite scene, actually, from the film

0:32:350:32:37

because it's the scene where you, Stevens,

0:32:370:32:39

have been instructed by your employer to teach the facts of life

0:32:390:32:41

-to his godson who's about to be married.

-Yeah.

0:32:410:32:43

There's marvellous cross purposes, beautifully played.

0:32:430:32:46

-Of course, Emma Thompson's in it again.

-Yeah.

0:32:460:32:48

Are you going to make a habit

0:32:480:32:49

of playing romantic films with Emma Thompson?

0:32:490:32:51

-You'll be like the Lunts...

-Or Bogart and Bacall?

0:32:510:32:54

Or Bogart and Bacall, yes.

0:32:540:32:55

I have a feeling that you might reach another milestone

0:32:550:33:00

with another Oscar nomination for The Remains Of The Day.

0:33:000:33:02

-You think so?

-Yeah.

0:33:020:33:05

I'll have to divorce it out of my...

0:33:050:33:07

-You really?

-Yeah.

-Oh.

0:33:070:33:09

HE MUMBLES

0:33:100:33:12

THEY CHUCKLE

0:33:120:33:14

I don't know. It would be very nice. I dare not think about it.

0:33:140:33:16

I dare not think about it.

0:33:160:33:17

-You've also got Shadowlands coming up soon.

-Shadowlands, yes.

0:33:170:33:20

So they're keeping you very busy or you are keeping yourself busy.

0:33:200:33:23

I'm keeping myself busy.

0:33:230:33:24

It keeps me off the streets, keeps me out of trouble,

0:33:240:33:26

keeps me out of the bars!

0:33:260:33:28

Long may all this prevail.

0:33:300:33:32

The Remains Of The Day did result in another Oscar nomination,

0:33:320:33:36

which, as with all the plaudits he was receiving,

0:33:360:33:39

Hopkins found hugely satisfying.

0:33:390:33:43

Did you want to be a great success?

0:33:430:33:45

-Yeah.

-You are a great success.

0:33:450:33:47

How has that changed you?

0:33:470:33:50

It hasn't changed me at all.

0:33:500:33:52

I've got more confidence in myself.

0:33:520:33:54

Yeah, when I started out I just wanted to be famous,

0:33:540:33:58

I didn't want to become a great actor.

0:33:580:34:00

I didn't want to become a great Shakespearean actor.

0:34:000:34:02

People say you're the next Olivier.

0:34:020:34:04

I didn't want to become the next Laurence Olivier.

0:34:040:34:06

and stand in wrinkled tights at The Old Vic for the rest of my life.

0:34:060:34:09

I had ideas beyond that.

0:34:090:34:11

Some people would call it arrogant and ambitious, I'm all those things.

0:34:110:34:15

Um...I'm very ambitious, um...

0:34:150:34:18

It hasn't changed me except I've faced up...

0:34:200:34:23

..to the honesty and saying this is what I always wanted.

0:34:250:34:29

I remembered once I was working with Emma Thompson

0:34:290:34:31

and we did The Remains Of The Day, I think it was,

0:34:310:34:33

or maybe Howards End.

0:34:330:34:35

She read an interview and I'd said,

0:34:350:34:37

"All I ever wanted to be was rich and famous."

0:34:370:34:40

I think the interviewer that day, I was being rather, you know,

0:34:400:34:44

bad boy and I said, "No, I didn't want to become a classical actor,

0:34:440:34:47

"I wanted to become rich and famous."

0:34:470:34:48

Emma said to me when she read this, she said, "Oh, that's not true."

0:34:480:34:52

I said, "Darling, yes, it was absolutely true."

0:34:520:34:55

She said, "But I can't believe that about you.

0:34:550:34:57

"Aren't you interested in the art?"

0:34:570:34:59

I said, "No, not at all.

0:34:590:35:02

"I want to get on fast planes..."

0:35:020:35:04

As Muggeridge once said,

0:35:040:35:05

you go up and down the world like the devil and one day

0:35:050:35:07

you have to come home. Maybe one day I will come home

0:35:070:35:10

but, for the moment, I'm just enjoying the movement of my life.

0:35:100:35:13

But though he was enjoying himself, Hopkins was also, as ever,

0:35:130:35:17

looking to avoid complacency and find his next creative challenge.

0:35:170:35:22

If you're talking about The Remains Of The Day,

0:35:220:35:25

it was a simple, straightforward part for me to play because I...

0:35:250:35:28

Um...

0:35:280:35:29

I'm good at that containment now. I've mastered, I suppose.

0:35:300:35:35

I'm very experienced at it, I've been doing it for a number of years

0:35:350:35:38

and I've learnt a few tricks here and there.

0:35:380:35:40

I know how to contain a performance and, er,

0:35:400:35:43

like Shadowlands, or what, you know.

0:35:430:35:46

What is it, um...

0:35:460:35:47

Are those techniques that work better on film than on the stage?

0:35:470:35:50

I think they work...I think they can work on stage.

0:35:500:35:53

On film you have an ideal opportunity to, er...

0:35:530:35:56

Um...

0:35:560:35:58

..do less and create more in fact by doing less.

0:35:580:36:03

Um...

0:36:030:36:04

It's fairly straightforward.

0:36:040:36:06

It is a very straightforward process. I really do...

0:36:060:36:08

I say that I work very hard.

0:36:080:36:10

I do love study, I do love research.

0:36:100:36:12

I do a lot of reading and learning of the text,

0:36:120:36:15

or the lines, or whatever you want to call it.

0:36:150:36:17

But once I'm ready, I feel very relaxed

0:36:170:36:20

and I enjoy it and I'm detached, in a way, especially on film

0:36:200:36:25

because you have...

0:36:250:36:26

And I'm in control and I enjoy the control.

0:36:260:36:29

I enjoy being master of the technique,

0:36:290:36:32

I enjoy being master of the performance.

0:36:320:36:35

Um...but I keep it very light.

0:36:350:36:37

Um...

0:36:370:36:38

But now I'm reaching a stage where I want to give up that...

0:36:380:36:42

..contained,

0:36:420:36:44

a quiet, passionless person.

0:36:440:36:46

I now want to break out and do something big

0:36:460:36:50

and boisterous and dangerous again.

0:36:500:36:54

Because I know that's all still in me,

0:36:540:36:57

cooking around and it's time to move on.

0:36:570:37:00

That's what I want to do.

0:37:000:37:02

Hopkins found his big, boisterous character

0:37:020:37:05

in the next Oscar-nominated performance

0:37:050:37:08

in the title role in Oliver Stone's 1996 film Nixon.

0:37:080:37:13

First, the most obvious question is why did Oliver Stone

0:37:150:37:18

choose you to play Nixon?

0:37:180:37:21

In a sense, it's a bit like getting Paul Newman to play Harold Macmillan.

0:37:210:37:25

Maybe a good choice, but not an obvious one. Why?

0:37:250:37:28

I've asked myself that question a lot since.

0:37:280:37:31

He'd seen The Remains Of The Day

0:37:310:37:34

and Shadowlands and some of my work.

0:37:340:37:37

He'd read a few interviews...

0:37:370:37:39

..er, of mine.

0:37:390:37:42

Those rather boring interviews where

0:37:420:37:44

they talk about my drinking years and my pain and all that.

0:37:440:37:48

I think he thought I'd been through the mill a bit

0:37:480:37:51

and he thought the work in The Remains Of The Day was, um,

0:37:510:37:57

really good, playing repressed men which I've been associated with.

0:37:570:38:02

For some reason, I don't know why he didn't think

0:38:020:38:06

about the British accent and the lack of Americanism in me

0:38:060:38:09

because I'm a British actor.

0:38:090:38:11

He said something about being Welsh.

0:38:110:38:13

I don't know how much Oliver knows about Welsh people,

0:38:130:38:16

but he said there was something dark about me

0:38:160:38:19

and being the outsider.

0:38:190:38:21

Whatever the combination was, he wanted to cast me

0:38:210:38:24

and I played... I didn't play hard to get

0:38:240:38:28

but I did question him. I said, "You are aware I'm not an American

0:38:280:38:32

"and it's no easy task to get into an American rhythm of speech."

0:38:320:38:36

Nevertheless, he said, "Well I think you can do it

0:38:360:38:39

"and I want you to do it.

0:38:390:38:41

"It's up to you, but the part's yours if you want it."

0:38:410:38:45

He said, "I'll give you some time to think about it."

0:38:450:38:49

I thought, well, here's a chance to work with a really great,

0:38:490:38:52

great director, a really great director of today's modern cinema.

0:38:520:38:57

I'd be a fool to turn it down

0:38:570:38:59

and I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't.

0:38:590:39:02

I may fall flat on my face.

0:39:020:39:04

I've done the film, I may still yet fall flat on my face,

0:39:040:39:07

but I needed that challenge because I'd become a little complacent,

0:39:070:39:10

very complacent, in fact.

0:39:100:39:12

I was playing parts that were easy for me,

0:39:120:39:14

like The Remains Of The Day, Shadowlands -

0:39:140:39:15

they were dead easy parts.

0:39:150:39:18

Is it true, as I've heard that the clincher was that Stone said to you

0:39:180:39:22

if you don't play it, I'm going to offer it to Gary Oldman?

0:39:220:39:25

-HE CHUCKLES

-Yes, it was.

0:39:250:39:27

Oliver's a sort of demon, really.

0:39:270:39:29

He said, "You've got a choice.

0:39:290:39:31

"You can go off and make those boring films that you usually make

0:39:310:39:35

"which nobody goes to see," meaning some Czechoslovak film,

0:39:350:39:39

which I've done one or two of those.

0:39:390:39:41

And he said, "Yeah," because I was still undecided.

0:39:410:39:43

He said, "Do you think Gary Oldman will be good?"

0:39:430:39:45

I said, "I'll do it!"

0:39:450:39:47

HE WEEPS

0:39:570:39:59

How can a...

0:40:060:40:07

How can a country, come apart like this?

0:40:070:40:10

What have I done wrong?

0:40:120:40:13

I opened China.

0:40:150:40:18

I made peace with Russia.

0:40:180:40:19

I ended a war.

0:40:210:40:22

I did what I thought was right.

0:40:260:40:28

God, why do they hate me so?

0:40:330:40:36

It's unbelievable, it's insane...

0:40:360:40:39

Please forgive me.

0:40:410:40:45

WEEPS AND MUMBLES INCOHERENTLY

0:40:450:40:48

You were quoted a couple of years ago saying that it wouldn't bother you

0:40:520:40:55

if you never acted again. Did you actually say that?

0:40:550:40:59

-I think I was going through one of my phases.

-Ah.

0:40:590:41:01

-I go through phases...

-The lonely melancholy phases?

-Yes.

0:41:010:41:04

I think people say... I think actors say that to get a bit of sympathy.

0:41:040:41:07

"Oh, you can't! Think what we're losing!"

0:41:070:41:10

I think somebody might have said to me, "Well, why not? OK, fine."

0:41:100:41:13

I wouldn't have liked that.

0:41:130:41:14

I love the cinema because it's, er, I love it.

0:41:140:41:17

I love the whole feeling of it, getting up in the morning,

0:41:170:41:19

going to the dressing room, make-up on.

0:41:190:41:22

I love the routine, I love the excitement of it.

0:41:220:41:24

I love the circus atmosphere.

0:41:240:41:26

Hitting the road. At the end of wrap party saying,

0:41:260:41:28

"Bye, see you, adios amigos"

0:41:280:41:30

and get in the car and back into the night and onto my next set.

0:41:300:41:33

It's like life, it's like a life and a death

0:41:330:41:35

and there's something very impersonal about it.

0:41:350:41:37

I think there's something so exciting about that,

0:41:370:41:39

there's something about life in that, life and death,

0:41:390:41:42

you know, the long goodbyes and it's over and done with.

0:41:420:41:45

Since 1993, Hopkins has been Sir Anthony, deservedly joining

0:41:450:41:50

the ranks of the acting knights he'd been mimicking for so many years!

0:41:500:41:55

And his passion for cinema continues to this day.

0:41:550:41:59

Whether in crowd pleasing blockbusters,

0:41:590:42:01

or intimate labours of love,

0:42:010:42:03

Hopkins still has an appetite for a challenge that's as impressive

0:42:030:42:07

as that of his most famous creation,

0:42:070:42:10

Hannibal Lecter.

0:42:100:42:12

A look back at the life of the Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins. In interviews conducted with the BBC over the course of his career we see him discuss his approach to acting, his hell-raising years and the famous films and roles that helped make him a star including Remains of the Day, Shadowlands, Nixon and, of course, The Silence of the Lambs, in which he first portrayed his most celebrated character, Dr Hannibal Lecter.


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