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The Legend of World Cinema : Sir Anthony Hopkins

Have you ever wondered how you want your life to be? Well I have, a lot many times! We all truly wish if our lives were easy and lousy, but unfortunately with every passing second it becomes difficult, unexpected and unusual. We all have dreams, no second thoughts about it, but we often think too much. We tend to be worried about what people think or say about us. We yearn for empathy so badly that we fail to make distinction between understanding and empathy. We fail to realize that we have power to make our lives our own. This edition of All Lights gives ittribute to a typical but unusual man, who has always lived his life as a dream, a manifestation of what he really wanted to be right from his childhood. Arguably best known as the blue eyed, cold hearted cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal, this legend does not really fit the stereotype of an actor accidentally falling upon Hollywood Glory, he is considered to be one of the finest and greatest living actors in the History of Cinema.

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, CBE, a Welsh actor of film, stage, and television, and a composer who was born in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales, on 31 December 1937. Son of Muriel Anne (née Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker, Sir Hopkins often spent time alone due to his dyslexia. He preferred to paint and play the piano rather than making friends at school. He claims that he was antisocial and didn't bother with other kids; he was a real bad student...rather a complete 'Idiot'. But things changed in 1949, when to instill discipline, his parents insisted he attend Jones' West Monmouth Boys' School in Pontypool, Wales. He remained there for five terms and was then educated at Cowbridge Grammar School in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. He was influenced and encouraged to become an actor by Welsh compatriot Richard Burton (who was also born in Port Talbot) whom he met briefly at the age of 15. Despite he claims to be a complete nothing, Sir Hopkins enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music& Drama in Cardiff, Wales, on a piano scholarship. He graduated from the college in 1957. After two years in the British Army doing his national service, he moved to London where he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Here are some of the little known facts about Sir Antony Hopkins:
 
* He released a single called ‘Distant Star’, which peaked at No. 75 in the UK Singles Chart.

* In 2007, he announced he would retire temporarily from the screen to tour around the world. Hopkins has also written music for the concert hall, in collaboration with Stephen Barton as orchestrator. These compositions include ‘The Masque of Time’, given its world premiere with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in October 2008, and Schizoid Salsa.

*  In 1990, Hopkins directed ‘Dylan Thomas: Return Journey’ which was his directing debut for the screen.


* In 1997, Hopkins narrated BBC natural documentary series, Killing for a Living, which showed predatory behaviour in nature. He narrated episode 1 through 3 before being replaced by John Shrapnel.

* In January 2012, Hopkins released an album of classical music, entitled Composer, performed by the City of Birmingham    Symphony Orchestra released by Decca.

* Ranked #57 in Empire (UK) magazine's ‘The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time’ list.

* Awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1987

*  Received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Wales in 1988

* Was selected by an Entertainment Weekly on-line movie poll as the Best Modern Actor and the Best Villain for his role as    ‘Hannibal Lecter’ in 1999

* For his stage performance in ‘Pravda’, he was awarded the 1985 London Critics Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Award) for Best Actor, and the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1986 (1985 season) for Outstanding Achievement.

* Ranked #12 on Tropopkin’s Top 25 Most Intriguing People [Issue #100]

Sir Hopkins made his first professional stage appearance in the Palace Theatre, Swansea, in 1960 with Swansea Little Theatre's production of Have a Cigarette. In 1965, after several years in repertory, he was spotted by Sir Laurence Olivier, who invited him to join the Royal National Theatre. He became Olivier's understudy, and filled in when Olivier was struck with appendicitis during a production of August Strindberg's The Dance of Death. Despite his success at the National, Sir Hopkins tired of repeating the same roles nightly and yearned to be in films. He made his small-screen debut in a 1967 BBC broadcast of A Flea in Her Ear. In 1968, he got his break in ‘The Lion in Winter’ playing Richard I, along with Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and future James Bond star Timothy Dalton, who played Philip II of France. Although Sir Hopkins continued in theatre most notably at the National Theatre as Lambert Le Roux in Pravda by David Hare and Howard Brenton and as Antony in Antony and Cleopatra opposite Judi Dench as well as in the Broadway production of Peter Shaffer's Equus, directed by John Dexter) he gradually moved away from it to become more established as a television and film actor. He starred as Charles Dickens in the 1970's ‘The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens’, the series ‘Danton’, in an episode of 'The Ten Commandments' and the 1972 mini series ‘War and Peace’, for which he won a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor.

In 1976, Sir Hopkins picked up an Emmy for 'Outstanding Lead Actor' for his principal role of accused and convicted killer, Bruno Hauptmann in the TV film ‘The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case’. This was a fact- based story of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son and namesake of the famed pilot, and ensuing trial. As Lloyd George in ‘Young Winston’ (1972), Sir Hopkins initiated a five picture association with director Richard Attenborough which would saw him segue from Lieutenant Colonel John Frost in ‘A Bridge Too Far’ (1977) to the volatile, obsessed ventriloquist in ‘Magic’ (1978) to the quiet, scholarly C S Lewis in ‘Shadowlands’ (1993). On TV, he played Othello in the '81 adaptation of the same name. In 1982, he won another Emmy for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor’ in the TV film ‘The Bunker’; the same year he played Quasimodo in ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’.Following his respectable notoriety, he was, in 1987, awarded with the Commander of the order of the British Empire, giving him the letters CBE after his name. That year saw the release of '84 Charing Cross Road' where his character who sells books enters into a very special correspondence with New York dwelling character portrayed from Anne Bancroft's BAFTA winning performance. Hopkins' indelible portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, the brilliant, cultivated serial killer at the center of Jonathan Demme's ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ (1991) paved the way for a succession of meaty and challenging roles. Silence of The Lambs turned Sir Hopkins into the most sought after English actors. For 16 minutes of onscreen time, Sir Hopkins earned an Oscar and a BAFTA for ‘Best Actor’.

In 1992, he starred alongside Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave in Merchant/Ivory's thrice Oscar winning ‘Howard’s End’, based on the novel by E.M Forster. Hopkins played Henry Wilcox - the film went on to win three Oscars, two BAFTAs and a further 19 other awards. Despite being nominated, Hopkins failed to win any awards, although Emma Thompson won an Oscar and a BAFTA for ‘Best Actress Award’. In 1992 again, Sir Hopkins played Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Frances Ford Coppola’s ‘Dracula’, based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same title. He starred alongside Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Richard E Grant. Although Dracula was based in London, it was filmed entirely in California. In the same year, Hopkins starred in 'Chaplin' along side Robert Downey Jr. He played the only fictional character, George Hayden, in the film based on the real life of Charlie Chaplin. Directed by Richard Attenborough, the film was awarded three Oscar nominations and won a BAFTA. Success followed once more in 1993 when Hopkins teamed up with Emma Thompson yet again in ‘Remains of the Day’, a post WWI love story. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. That year, Anthony Hopkins CBE came to be known as ‘Sir’ and was once again recognised in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours' List and Knighted. Sir Hopkins is known to have immersed himself in countless hours of film and videotape to prepare for his title role in Oliver Stone's ‘Nixon’ (1995). The real Nixon died at the time the film was being made in 1994; the funeral scene, at the end of the film, was later added. The film was released in 1995 and nominated for four Oscars.

Sir Hopkins felt that there are more challenges ahead of him than just act, thus to fulfill the very purpose of life, he took on the role of director with the 1996 film, ‘August’, an adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’, in which he also starred in. The film's location was in his native land of Wales. His love of music led him to compose the film's musical score. His directing skills were noted as the film went onto win ‘Best English Drama Award’ at The BAFTA Awards in Wales. For his next film, Hopkins portrayed troubled artist Pablo Picasso in an unforgettable performance in ‘Surviving Picasso’ (1996). Based on the passionate story of the relationship of Picasso’s one and only lover Francois Gilot, Sir Hopkins prepared for his role, getting into character by eating the same menu as the real life Picasso. During the remainder of the Nineties, Hopkins delivered strong and memorable performances in a number of big films: in 1997 was 19th century court room drama ‘Amistad’. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film scooped four Oscar nominations. Through his career, he conquered dyslexia by memorising his scripts - reading them through as much 250 times. During filming Spielberg was so blown away by Hopkins knowing verbatim a seven page dialogue, that he insisted that every one referred to him as ‘Sir Anthony’. After that followed roles in ‘The Mask Of Zorro’ (1998), with Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Banderas; ‘Meet Joe Black’ (1998) alongside Brad Pitt; ‘Instinct’ (1999) with Cuba Gooding Jr. and ‘Titus’ (1999).

In 2000, Sir Hopkins returned to his role as non- blinking, salivating, Dr Hannibal Lecter in the sequel to The Silence of The Lambs: 'Hannibal'. After filming 'Hearts in Atlantis' (2001), based on the novel by Stephen King, Hopkins resurrected Dr Hannibal Lecter for a third outing in 2002's 'Red Dragon'. Lecter's story preludes his previous two films as it's set before his imprisonment. In 2003, Sir Hopkins starred alongside Nicole Kidman in 'The Human Stain' where he played a Professor with a dark past who had an affair with Kidman's young character. Though his scenes with Kidman proved controversial, critics highly applauded his performace. In the same year, he was also honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

In the year 2004, Sir Hopkins teamed up once again with director Oliver Stone in the film 'Alexander' where he played the character Old Ptolemy. The movie was about the Macedonian King who was one of the greatest military leaders in the history of warfare. In 2005, Hopkins impressed movie goers with his performance as a mentally disturbed mathematician in 'Proof', with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film, directed by John Madden, was a story partly based on the life of John Nash, a professor who won the Nobel Prize for his work in game theory. Later in 2005, Sir Hopkins took to the road in the film 'The World's Fastest Indian', a biographical story of New Zealander Burt Munro whose motorcycle riding helped set the land speed record in Utah 1967.

Sir Hopkins in 2006 became a part of a huge ensemble cast of 'Bobby', a film which centres around 22 people who were at the Ambassador Hotel the day that U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot in 1968. The political drama won an award at The Hollywood Film Festival for 'Best Ensemble Cast' which included talent such as Helen Hunt, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Martin Sheen, and Emilio Estevez, who also wrote and directed the film; Hopkins was executive producer. Later in 2006, Sir Hopkins played Judge Irwin in another political drama, 'All the King's Men', alongside Sean Penn and fellow English actors, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. The movie was based on the Novel by Robert Penn Warren, set in the Fifties, it tells the story of elected governor Willie Stark. For his outstanding contribution to Hollywood, Sir Hopkins was honored by Hollywood Foreign Press at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards with the Cecile B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.

The acclaimed actor in 2007, gave a pleasingly sadistic performance in ‘Fracture’, playing the confessed murderer of his much younger wife(Embeth Davidtz) who was having an affair with a police hostage negotiator (Billy Burke). From there, he appeared as King Hrothgar to Ray Winstone's titular ‘Beowulf’ (2007), before writing, directing and starring in the mind-bending fantasy ‘Slipstream’ (2007), which premiered at that year's Sundance Film Festival. He went on to play Benicio del Toro's estranged father in the classic take on the werewolf movie, ‘The Wolfman’ (2010), and was the father of Chris Hemsworth's Nordic superhero, ‘Thor’ (2011). Hopkins was in the limelight once again when he was cast to play the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, in the highly anticipated behind-the-scenes drama, ‘Hitchcock’ (2012), which focused on the director's struggle to make ‘Psycho’ (1960) while focusing on his complex relationship with wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). His recent projects included RED 2 (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), where he reprised the role of Odin again. His forthcoming projects include Solace (2014), Noah (2014), Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2014) and Gotti: In the Shadow of my Father (2015).

Sir Hopkins has been married three times. His first two wives were Petronella Barker (1966-1972) and Jennifer Lynton (1973-2002). He is now married to Colombian-born Stella Arroyave. He has a daughter from his first marriage, Abigail Hopkins (b. 20 August 1968), who is an actress and singer.

Sir Hopkins also actively partticipates in various charities and appeals. He is the President of the National Trust's Snowdonia Appeal, raising funds for the preservation of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales.

From actor to director, to piano virtuoso, composer and producer, Sir Anthony Hopkins has done it all. He is one actor who can transform himself into any character effortlessly. For him, Acting is Fun! He loves being creative, as it keeps him Young. Even at an age of 75, he can be recknoned as the quirkest and down to earth actors in the industry who have come in terms with their lives associated with the blinding fame. For him he is a jobber actor, where, how and which way it goes doesnot matter. For him, life is all about breaking the rules and mess around, its all about making difference in the world till you are here, till you cannot do it anymore!

 

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