I ir




, .1



nker t

lou, .rese c II ~ 0 play,-,' 0), ' , itt _ i191:'~'Ot1ele ,~~on filn a _OIUt' the la t 190 day




of the Third Reich, Hopkins spent six weeks reading biographies, struggling through Mein Kampf and watching hours of documentaries. Each morning during filming he would stand in front of his hotel room mirror, listening to Hitler's speeches, practising his rhythms and mannerisms. Although the film was shot in Paris. Hopkins insisted on eating in the same German restaurant every night. "He became Hitler," rernernbel's his wife Jenni. His efforts paid off; he won an Emmy for his eerily accurate portrayal. Missing Link. Sometimes a part eludes him until just the right prop provides the key that unlocks the character's inner being. To portray the Edwardian tycoon Henry Wilcox in the film Howards End, Hopkins had learnt his lines, mastered a clipped upper-class accent and become comfortable in period clothes from tweed cap to high-button shoes. Yet he still had no idea how he would play the part. Then a make-up assistant offered him a moustache to try. Hopkins refused at first. But when she pasted it on him, he saw Henry Wilcox staring back at him from the mirror. "That's him!" he shouted. For an Hopkins's insight into roles that, in his words, "expose the dark underbelly of mankind", he is not the morose, brooding character many expect-as I discover when Ijoin him for a three-hour walk through the heart of London. Crossing StJames's Park, he is recognized by scores of 44

eager fans, mostly female. "I'm always surprised when women find me attractive," he confides. "I want to look over my shoulder and see if Mick Jagger is behind me. I think I'm a short-arsed Welshman." When three middle-aged American women ask to take his photograph, he quickly puts his arm around two of them as the third captures the scene on a video camera. Looking straight into the camera he intones, "To be or not to be. That is the question ... " Such "command" performances of Shakespeare in the park are a far cry from Hopkins's upbringing in south Wales, but it is there that the clue to his genius lies. The son of a baker in Taibach just outside the industrial town of Port Talbot, he was a lonely, shy child. At school he was so far from winning laurels of any kind, sporting or academic, that classmates derided him as dim-witted "Mad Hopkins". "Hopeless at everything, I was convinced there was this special book they passed out at birth and I'd been missed," he remembers. "The cinema was my only place of refuge." From this aloofness, this sense that he was an outcast, grew the self-doubt that was to shadow Hopkins's lifeand an iron determination to prove his critics wrong. "In spite of my insecurity, I always believed I was destined for some kind of greatness. I just didn't know what kind." He soon had an inkling. At 17 his life changed dramatically when he was persuaded to take part in the local

ill ..Howards End". Below: "The Silence of the Lambs", which broke British box-office records

Left: Witl, Emma


YMCA Easter play. "It was a revelation," he recalls. "I had only one line, but for the first time in my life I felt confident. I clearly remember thinking, This is the way I'll go." He never looked back. He won a scholarship to Cardiff's College of Music and Drama, did his National Service and was accepted by the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1961. "Even then it was obvious Tony had that 'special magic' all great actors possess," remembers the actor Simon Ward, a RADA classmate. After two years with regional theatrical companies, in 1965 Hopkins was invited to audition for Sir Laurence Olivier's National Theatre company. At his audition Olivier asked him what he planned to perform. Hopkins replied, "Othello"-the role in

which Olivier himself was currently receiving rave reviews, "You've got a bloody nerve!" the great actor exclaimed. But the gamble paid off. After his audition Olivier told him, "Well done. I don't think I'll lose any sleep tonight, but you're awfully good," Hopkins got his big break in summer 1967 when he understudied Olivier as Captain Edgar in Strindberg's The Dance of Death. Olivier fell ill and missed four performances. Later he noted in his memoirs, "A new young actor in the company named Anthony Hopkins walked away with the part of Edgar like a cat with a mouse between its teeth .." Critics began comparing Hopkins with Richard Burton-in more ways than one. Like Burton at the 45



same stage in his career he was developing a serious drinking probtern. "1 was drinking to drown my self-contempt," he says now. Soon tile habit would tum his life upside-down. First. the cinema beckoned. A supporting role in The Lion in Winter offered him invaluable lessons in acting in front of a camera, from veteran actress Katharine Hepburn" Rehearsing their first scene, she took him aside and asked, "Why did you play with your back to the camera? Always remember that the camera is ycurs=use 'it, You don't have to act. Just be it, let it fall out of you." It was advice Hopkins never forgot. Roles in The Looking Glass War, When Eight Bells Toll, Yo~mg Winston, and other films quickly followed, Tail Spin. But while Hopkins was prospering professionally, his personal life was crashing around him. His first marriage, which produced a daughter, Abigail, had failed, Soon his uncontrolled drinking began to threaten the quality of his work. "I thought alcohol was the rocket fuel that powered my acting," remembers Hopkins. "Actually it was burning me up," Even marriage to Jenni in 1973 wasn't enough to shake Hopkins out of his tequila-induced stupor. It took a "lost weekend" to do that. In lute 1975 he awoke in. a seedy Phoenix, Arizona, hotel with no idea of how he'd got there, "It was the low point. of my life," he says. "There I was, 46

covered with fleas in a fleabag hotel. 1 realized I was destroying everything around me." He telephoned Jenni and promised, "I'm not going to drink any more," For the next six weeks he kept his promise out of sheer stubbornness, but unrest still gnawed inside him. "1 was a dry drunk," says Hopkins. "I still needed to understand what was wrong with me." At a friend's urging, he grudgingly rang the local chapter of the self-help group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Too proud to have someone corne round, he did agree to visit their office. There, talking to an AA member, he felt long-held defences begin to crumble. "I'd never admitted I needed help before. Suddenly I felt I was beeom ing human .." That night at his first AA meeting he was startled when a man turned, smiled and said, "Hello Tony, we've been waiting for you." "It was an actor I'd worked with a few months before. He'd known I was an alcoholic long before I had." For Tony Hopkins the isolation was over. "I real ized I was in a room fuU of people who'd felt as lonely all their lives as I'd felt all mine. That was where my drinking stemmed from. " Dry Run. With the help of regular AA meetings-up to five times a week-for 17 years Hopkins has kept his pledge to abstain. Thankful for his "second chance", he has volunteered his, name and time to several alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes. One of those closest to his heart is



Rhoserchan, an addictive illness treatment centre near Aberystwyth, west Wales. On a recent visit there Hopkins spent several hours with the residents. He gave each a bear-hug ("To break down the celebrity," he told me later) and announced simply, "I'm Tony and I'm an alcoholic." As he told them his own story of losing the battle against alcoholism, they listened intently-this was no actor playing a role, this was a recovering alcoholic who'd stumbled down the same slope they had. For one resident the experience proved overpowering. "I can't believe you're sitting next to meyou're Hannibal the Cannibal!" Quickly Hopkins corrected her: "It doesn't matter who I am. I'm an alcoholic just like you." As tears began to roll down her cheeks, he added softly, "There's nothing to be scared of any more." "Tony has been a real inspiration to people here," says Rhoserchan's founder, Joe South. But for Hopkins the visits are invigorating. "I've been given so much that it's a pleasure to give something back." Once Hopkins had stopped drinking, Hollywood stardom in a series of lavish but forgettable film and television productions soon lost its lustre. "It. was too easy," he says. It was time for the "new" Tony Hopkins, free of the demons he had been trying to drown with drink, to return home. When offered the chance in 1985 to star at the National Theatre in

Howard Brenton and David Hare's powerful new play Pravda, he jumped at it, Hopkins's portrayal of the boorish Lambert Le Rome was a triumph. Showered with top drama awards, he went on to tackle both King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra for the National; in 14 months he racked up an incredible 200 performances, all of them electrified by what one critic has called his "raging-bull Welshness". Copycat. Hopkins also has a magnificent gift of mimicry which he uses to amuse. Dame Judi Dench, his Cleopatra, remembers, "To break tension, Tony would deliver some of his lines in a perfect imitation of Sir Ralph Richardson. He had the cast in stitches. Thank goodness the audience never caught on. " Although he's so wealthy he need never work again, Hopkins shows no sign of slowing down. His choice of roles is refreshingly free from vanity. Recently he appeared in Freejack, a film he confesses is "disappointing", just to meet Mick Jagger, and he agreed to appear in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula because he wanted to work with the fabled director. Notes critic Roger Lewis: "He's especially interesting in junk; we can see the germs of his talent searching for substance. " This year Hopkins finished The Innocent for John Schlesinger and The Remains of the Day, from the 1989 Booker Prize-winning novel about the cruel unravelling of an elderly butler's life, for Merchant



Ivory. There's talk of 11 sequel to The Silence oj the Lambs and the starring role in a film version of Shadowlands, William Nicholson'S play about C. S. Lewis. For the time being Hopkins is finished with the theatre. "I'm just no longer interested in climbing the Everest of Shakespeare," he says. "He's so bloody difficult and I don't like failing, especially in public." Home to Hopkins and lenni, 11 former film production assistant, is an elegant town house in London's Knightsbridge. He's usually up at Sam and either runs three miles 011 a treadmill or walks across London. "I'm constantly battling the bulge,' he admits cheerfully .. A keen pianist, he 'rarely misses a day without pracrising selections from Chopin or Skriabin on his treasured Steinway. He's even managed to sneak his own piano compositions-uncreditedinto several of his films. Unlike many actors who delight in sitting around a dinner table trading theatrical anecdotes, Hopkins prefers a quiet evening with a few old friends ..One of the closest is cockney

chauffeur Terry Rowley. Says Terry, "With Tony what you see is what you get. Unlike most rnegastars, he's never let success go to his head." As we lunched at his favourite Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge, Hopkins made a moving confession. "For years I dreamed of being in a hit film," he told me. "I'd drive down Sunset Boulevard, look up at other actors' faces on those giant billboards and secretly envy them. I thought that kind of success would make all the difference. But I was wrong .. It's what's inside a person that counts." In June 199] as The Silence of the Lambs broke box-office records in Leicester Square's Odeon cinema, Hopkins asked Terry Rowley to drive him to see his name up in lights. He got out of the car and walked through the rain to the cinema, where he was soon recognized by excited filrn-goers. Back in the car, Terry asked, "How do you feel?" Remembers Hopkins, "I was surprised and a bit disappointed that] didn't feel changed. Then I thought, I've done it. 1 haven't got to prove myself an)' more. I'mfree. "


There's Nothing Quite Like ....
A LONG yawn, with a good stretch. Knowing the answer to a quiz-show question while sorneone else is there to hear it. . . Hearing oneself quoted. A parking meter with ten minutes left on it. Hearing laughter in the house in the morning. A reachable itch. -J",,,o> AI."nodo,Tlloo, inN"Y8C1., 48