Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Playboy Magazine Interview / Anthony Hopkins Unleashed


Anthony Hopkins

Playboy Magazine Interview By Lawrence Grobel, March 1994

PLAYBOY: With your recent knighthood, must we address you as Sir Anthony? 
HOPKINS: They say "Sir Hopkins." What do Americans think of all that?

PLAYBOY: We're impressed. But never mind what Americans think, what did you think when you found out about it?

HOPKINS: It was a big surprise. It's nice. I'm honored, but I don't know how to use it. Maybe I can get special tables at restaurants.

PLAYBOY: Which is a bigger honor, an Oscar or a knighthood?

HOPKINS: I hope this won't get in the English press, but the Oscar, because I'm a movie actor. Getting the Oscar was a great moment for me. It changed my life, because it knocked down my self-doubts. I think praise is a good thing to have in one's life. It's better than a kick in the ass. When I was a little kid, my father used to pick me up and throw me into the air, and I always wanted to touch the ceiling. And I thought, Well, now I've touched the ceiling. It's like they let me out of the cage.

PLAYBOY: Many people are predicting you'll get a second Oscar for The Remains of the Day. Would you like to win again?

HOPKINS: One is enough. I have an Oscar so I'm off the hook, really. I've done everything I've ever wanted in my life. The knighthood is another thing. I nearly blew it all some years ago, and I had sort of a resurrection. Many people don't survive drugs or survive the horrors I did, and I came through it. Then The Silence of the Lambs came out of the blue and I was given an Oscar, and then I was given this knighthood and now I've done this amazing film called The Remains of the Day, which really is coming home to me. And next I played the writer C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands. So I'm getting these parts now, and I'm thinking, What the hell's happened? Why are these parts coming to me?
My agent says this is an exciting time in my life. I say it's all bullshit. I mean, agents are agents, actors are actors. There's nothing exciting about it.

PLAYBOY: Nothing? Don't you enjoy it?

HOPKINS: I love going to the studio, I love going to location and getting into the dressing rooms--all that ritual of going to makeup, putting the clothes on. If they want me to wait there for three days, I don't care. These assistants run up and say, "Sorry to keep you waiting." I say, "Just make sure my agent gets the check, that's all." I read books, I relax, I sleep. I love it. I always save my energy. I don't hang about. I stay away from other actors; I don't want to have lunch with them. And as soon as the day's over, I'm in the car and I'm off. I don't want anything to do with it. A friend of mine said it's easy for me to say that. Well, it is. It's easy flying a jumbo jet when you know how to do it. It's the same for me, it's easy, because I know what I'm doing.

PLAYBOY: Laurence Olivier said acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism.

HOPKINS: What a lot of crap. It's all bullshit. Bullshit. It's a crock of horseshit, all of it. I don't know, maybe I'm shallow. Maybe I don't have much going on in my mind. The only quote which is fairly accurate for myself is that I think actors are all damaged goods.

PLAYBOY: Why did you want to become an actor?

HOPKINS: It's all I know. I've been getting away with it for 30 years. I became an actor because I wanted to do something new that would get me out of the rut that I was in. I wanted to make a mark somehow; I wanted to become famous--that's all I ever wanted. I'd seen Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift and that's what I wanted to become. I wanted to become an American actor. My longing to come to America was a more powerful influence than anyone like Olivier, who was the greatest actor of his time. But looking back, I remember I wanted to become an actor because Richard Burton had made it and he came from the same hometown I did. He escaped and made a career for himself. I wanted to become somebody like that. I just didn't want to be what I was.

PLAYBOY: Was your childhood traumatic?

HOPKINS: I was an idiot at school. I didn't know what time of day it was. We lived in the rural part of an industrial, steelworking town. When I first went to school I was in a completely alien environment. I can remember the smell of stale milk, drinking straws and wet coats and sitting there absolutely petrified. That feeling stayed with me. The fear stayed with me through my childhood and right through adolescence--that gnawing anxiety that I was freaky, that I wasn't really fitting in anywhere. Maybe I was dyslexic. In fact, I wasn't popular at all. I never played with any of the other kids, and I didn't have any friends. I wanted to be left alone all through my school years.

PLAYBOY: Did you ever do anything to attract attention?

HOPKINS: Just after the war, I was in a little school called Bridge Street School and every lunch I could get on the bus and go home, which was about three miles. But I would never get on the bus, I would run beside it, like an idiot, like the school clown. I was so ill when I got home, it's a wonder I didn't have a heart attack. I was throwing up because I was exhausted. I used to race the school bus, and naturally it would get ahead of me and I'd catch up at the bus stop and kids would say, "Come on." I would do things in a weird way, like I wouldn't go to my own birthday parties.

PLAYBOY: Did your parents find your behavior odd?

HOPKINS: I was an only child and my mother and father were a little worried because I didn't seem to grasp anything. My parents sent me off to a boarding school and I lived away from home from the age of 11. That sense of potential failure is still in the back of my mind. I still don't hang around people. I'm not gregarious with anybody.

PLAYBOY: And this stems from your being so withdrawn as a child?

HOPKINS: Oh, yes. In school I wouldn't speak to anyone for four weeks. And I was punished.

PLAYBOY: How were you punished?

HOPKINS: They hit me.

PLAYBOY: The teachers?

HOPKINS: The teachers, yes. They would slap me about the head. And I did not speak, I just wouldn't speak. I was hauled before the headmaster, who talked to my mother and father and said there was something wrong with me.

PLAYBOY: How old were you?

HOPKINS: I was 14. In 1953 I was reading Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution and I was asked if I was Communist or a Marxist. I didn't know what they were talking about. The book was taken away from me. Then some of the kids would call me "bolshi, bolshi, bolshi." I went completely into myself. I thought I would defy them all. That has stayed with me the rest of my life, the thought that I would show them all one day. And that's why I became an actor.

PLAYBOY: Did you hate the classmates who teased you?

HOPKINS: I hated the rejection, I hated being sneered at by other kids. I get a recurring dream that I'm outside of the group. I don't belong and they show me that I don't belong. It's about going back to school--or it could be among a group of adults in a dream--and they turn on me, humiliate me, and I wake up. It's so vivid, it takes me a few minutes to realize that it was a dream.

PLAYBOY: How do they humiliate you?

HOPKINS: They call me crap: "You're nothing, you're so worthless, you're nasty, you're a vicious person." Once I get back to my senses I take it as a good sign that I no longer see myself that way. I'm aware of what you could do out of self-contempt. So my life is a remarkable revelation to myself.

PLAYBOY: As a child, did you have any religious beliefs to fall back on?

HOPKINS: No. Once, when I was about four, they recited the Lord's Prayer in school and I couldn't comprehend it. Whenever I mentioned this my father said, "It's a load of rubbish, God." So for years I believed it was all self-determined and you just suffer in this uncomfortable universe. My father's philosophy was: "You're going to fight. It's dog eat dog! Don't trust anyone and don't give anything away."

PLAYBOY: How much of a force was your father in your life?

HOPKINS: He was a man of colossal energy, but a lot of the energy didn't go anywhere. He was just spinning his wheels. He was exhausting to be with. My father said all bakers are mad because they have such violent temperaments. I remember him in a rage, tearing a loaf of bread because it had gone wrong and throwing it all over the wall in frustration. In the Depression years people did anything to survive and people cracked.

PLAYBOY: Do you take after your father?

HOPKINS: As I get older I feel so much like him. I have a thing about waste, I hate waste. I had a thing with Francis Coppola during Dracula with reams of scripts because I don't like wasting paper. I don't like wasting food. It makes me uncomfortable when you order a meal in America and they bring you a huge feast. That's a terrible waste. And I switch off lights. My wife says, "For God's sake, don't get like your father." I say, "You don't need all of these lights on." And she says, "We're not living in Charles Dickens' England." I go around and switch them off.

PLAYBOY: Did you ever work with your dad in the bakery?

HOPKINS: No. He said, "You don't want to come into this business, do you?" I said no. He told me, "You'd be hopeless."

PLAYBOY: Your father must have thought it a miracle that you got through school at all. Is it a major accomplishment to survive the British school system?

HOPKINS: Yes, it is. The public school system is one of the most insufferable systems of all. I'm glad I was in that system because it gave me enough rocket fuel to get out and do something different. It pushed me into rage for years. I look back at it now and think it wasn't that something was wrong with me, it was that something was right with me. I may have hurt a few people along the way, but it got me what I wanted.

PLAYBOY: What were you good at as a boy?

HOPKINS: I was good at impersonating teachers. I could imitate mannerisms and voices. That was my way of getting back. I really developed it when I became an actor.

PLAYBOY: Did you ever get caught mimicking someone?

HOPKINS: Olivier, once. I was doing a speech, just fooling around, and he was standing right behind me.

PLAYBOY: What was his reaction?

HOPKINS: He said, "Is that supposed to be me? Doesn't sound anything like me. But it was a good impersonation. When [director] John Schlesinger and I were together making The Innocent in Germany, I did John and he said, "Oh, fuck off." Schlesinger is an interesting character. He's precise and quite volatile. When I went into the army for my military service, there was a Sergeant Brolins, and I used to be able to imitate his voice. I'd stand outside the huts and call everyone out on parade half an hour early. I'd vanish and they'd all come out. I suppose it's all a residue of my childhood. Somebody said of me once, "What is with Tony, always the jokes and laughter, fooling around, what's he covering up?" Maybe she was right, maybe I am covering up something.

PLAYBOY: Didn't you also find some release through music and drawing?

HOPKINS: Well, I was captivated by Beethoven and his music and I wanted to become Beethoven. I can compose and improvise. I often manage to sneak a little of my own music into my films.

PLAYBOY: Do you still draw?

HOPKINS: I used to draw when I was a kid, used to lie on the floor while all these war planes were dropping bombs. There was a woman called Bernice Evans, 18 or 19, and she came to the house one day to see my mother. She looked at my drawings and said, "They're very good. He should have lessons." I was sent to this little school that Bernice had in town, once a week on Friday nights, and she taught me how to paint with poster paints. Then, in the summer in 1947, this man came up the stairs and into the room. He had on a bright checked jacket and had very piercing eyes. She said, "Anthony, this is Richard, he's an actor."

PLAYBOY: Was it Richard Burton?

HOPKINS: Yes. Never met him again until I went to ask for his autograph when he became a bit more famous. But he went out with Bernice.

PLAYBOY: What about you? Did you go out much or were you sexually naive?

HOPKINS: Just a bit dumb. I didn't know what it was about. It was something you didn't talk about. Especially with a Welsh background, I was closed off about it. I didn't want complications in my life, so I closed down. It's all rather baffling and mysterious. I never had an easy relationship over the years, then I gradually began to like women. But I was shy for a long time, fearful. I was a bit of a recluse. I went out with a girl briefly, and I went out with a girl at the Royal Academy. In 1961 I went out with an American girl for about six months. That was a bit of a traumatic experience. I was besotted with her, but she was ephemeral, elusive. One day she said, "That's it." It's all such a big deal that's made of everything, whether it's sex or acting. Now I think it's no big deal. You function, you get on with your life. One day it's all going to be over and that's the end of that.

PLAYBOY: After school, what kind of jobs did you hold?

HOPKINS: In 1955 I worked in a steel company in Wales for eight weeks. The fitters would come in and say, "I'd like two dozen steel bolts and two pieces of 52 piping." And I'd always get it wrong. I remember one man said, "You're not really connected, are you?" That's what I felt most like in those years. My father would say the same thing. "Take this bread to the shop. No, forget it, get out." He gave up quickly. Mind you, I got out of a lot of duties and hard work. In the army I qualified for a clerk's course and I was in the chief clerk's office for 18 months. I couldn't type and I couldn't do anything right. The staff sergeant looked at me and said, "I was just wondering, How the hell did I give you this job?" I was so stupid.
I just couldn't make anything work. I got into a repertory company, the Manchester Library Theater, and the director had had it with me. Everything was a disaster. Finally, they gave me some small parts that I couldn't do. So I didn't start off with much promise. But I had no intention of doing work for the rest of my life, which is why I became an actor.

PLAYBOY: Did you have a feeling of belonging when you were with other actors?

HOPKINS: No, not at all. I still don't get a sense of belonging.

PLAYBOY: What did you learn when you studied at the Welsh College of Music and Drama?

HOPKINS: Not very much because I was too young. I learned some speech, and the history of the theater and makeup and all that. I left when I was 19 and went on a tour of Britain for the Arts Council. Then I did my national military service for two years.

PLAYBOY: Did you try to get out of the draft?

HOPKINS: They said that if you drank a bottle of vinegar it would cause a heart tremor and get you out of the army. I was hoping I could have something wrong with me, but there was nothing. I couldn't fake it.

PLAYBOY: After the army you enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Did you settle down then?

HOPKINS: I was a troubled student. I didn't like dancing and ballet, I couldn't stand all that stuff. I used to skip those classes and go out to the movies. But I worked quite hard on what I chose to work on.

PLAYBOY: Did you worry much about technique at that time?

HOPKINS: You have to learn to speak clearly, which is the British system. I can understand why American actors think that's for the birds.

PLAYBOY: When you joined the National Theater, Olivier was its director. Were you friends with him?

HOPKINS: He was an old man, and I didn't get that close to him, but he took me under his wing. He liked me because I was a bit odd and I was pretty feisty. He liked physically strong people. He wasn't a very strong man. He had very bad legs and always complained about them, saying that they weren't thick enough, they were spindly. I was always naturally kind of muscular and he would come up and say, "God, lucky man." He said you have to be strong, you have to have stamina.

PLAYBOY: Did he ever give you any kind of advice?

HOPKINS: Yeah, he said, "Work hard. Be courageous, do the impossible. Do the outrageous. Don't ever be calm or tame. And don't waste your time doing the movies. You're a fine actor, you ought to stay in the theater for a while. Don't sell out, keep that training going. But British actors all want to sell out now. They keep saying about Richard Burton that his life was a waste. What do you mean it was a waste? He did what he wanted to do and made a lot of money, married a famous movie actress and did some good. He certainly shook the rafters and made a bit of noise.

PLAYBOY: You made a bit of noise yourself when you quit the National Theater in 1973 in the middle of a run of Macbeth. Was it a self-destructive act?

HOPKINS: No, it was the most creative thing I've ever done, because it got me out of where I was. Unfortunately, I left a lot of people in the lurch. But I just had to get the hell out of there. I would have gone under if I'd stayed.

PLAYBOY: So it was constructive?

HOPKINS: It was. At the time I thought, My God, I'm a terrible, irresponsible wreck and I've destroyed my career. It was quite a cold, calculated thing. Here I was being groomed to lead the company and I just wasn't fit for it, not intellectually, emotionally or physically. I wasn't interested in becoming a classical actor. I was drinking too much and I had a lot of fire and anger. And on top of that, I had this director, John Dexter, whom I later worked with on Equus and became good friends with. But at the time, I couldn't take John. So I left. I woke up at three A.M. and I had this voice going around in my head. And I thought, I'm not going to go back there. So I phoned up my agent and I said, "I'm out. I value my mental health, or what's left of it, more than I do the theater. I'll drive a taxi, I'll do something. I don't care." I had painted myself into a corner. I had to make a break with myself and with the past. I put down the phone and walked across Green Park in London. The birds were singing and the cabs and buses were driving by and I thought, I'll never have to go back again. I have no future. And within a few weeks, I was out in the desert sitting on the back of a camel with Leslie Caron doing QB VII for American TV. It was the beginning of a whole change in my life.

PLAYBOY: To go from Shakespeare to a TV miniseries might seem like a step backward. But you don't see the worth or virtue in either the Bard or yourself, do you?

HOPKINS: I don't like virtue and I don't like worthiness. I don't like valor. Why keep being so nice? It's something in me, I can't stand that. My father couldn't stand all that stuff. I don't say that I'm not a phony. I'm as phony as everyone else. We're all phony. We're all charlatans, we're all flawed, we're all liars. Nobody really carries the mantle totally in their lives. But there's a part of it I can't stomach. Who gives a damn about a theater that was built 400 years ago? Who cares? Pave it. Who cares? It's dead stuff. It's like the bloody Bard. Whether this Lear is better than that Lear--who gives a damn? You're doing what 15,000 actors have done before you. How the hell do you find something new? It's a fucking nightmare.

PLAYBOY: What about the claim that every actor should do Hamlet?

HOPKINS: Most actors want to do Hamlet when they're at their craziest. I was the same way. I think it's a death wish.

PLAYBOY: So actors should forget William Shakespeare?

HOPKINS: I suppose it's good to have done it. I've done quite a bit of it, but I don't find it enriching. I don't like Shakespeare. I'd rather be in Malibu.

PLAYBOY: You're harsh about the acting profession. How do you feel about your fellow actors?

HOPKINS: What's so special about being an actor? Actors are nothing. Actors are of no consequence. Most actors are pretty simpleminded people who just think they're complicated. I remember when I had heard about Robert De Niro in Raging Bull and I thought, I have to go see this film. I went to see it at a small theater in New York, with the smell of urine, and pissing, and a couple of people asleep. It was like that moment of truth: Is this what it's all about?

PLAYBOY: What about live theater?

HOPKINS: I occasionally go to see a play if there's a friend of mine in it, and I'll go backstage afterward. It's so depressing. There's the smell of rotting garbage from nearby restaurants. You look at this grotty, dirty little dressing room, and there's the actor who looks like he's just been in the ring with Mike Tyson--all for 15 lines. I come out in the bright sunshine and I think, I don't have to do any of that.

PLAYBOY: Is it an exercise in futility?

HOPKINS: Yes. It's the same with movies. If you can't enjoy doing what you're doing, what's the point of doing it?

PLAYBOY: Did you enjoy your first movie, The Lion in Winter?

HOPKINS: Yes, though I was just a young, brash, nervous actor. I had a lot of opinions about myself; you swing between tremendous arrogance and self-contempt. So I was pretty nervous and pretty scared and unsure of myself. But I loved standing in front of the camera. I loved working with Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. I could feel a sense of power and a center of strength. I thought, I must never lose it, never let go of this sense of center in myself. I had never felt it when onstage.

PLAYBOY: Didn't Katharine Hepburn advise you not to overact?

HOPKINS: No, she said, "You don't need to do anything. You'll understand, just relax." Then she said, "You don't have to act. You have a good voice, you look good, you have a big frame, you'll look good on film. Don't act. I'll do the acting. I'm always overacting, that's the way I am. But you don't need to do that." She was right.

PLAYBOY: Did you know Peter O'Toole before you did that movie?

HOPKINS: No. Never had met him. He was electrifying. The most exciting and dangerous actor I've ever worked with. We had some wild times together.

PLAYBOY: How wild?

HOPKINS: There were fights.

PLAYBOY: Physical or verbal?

HOPKINS: O'Toole and I, both smashed, were ready to beat each other up. He was mad. He drank as much as I did and probably more, and he had that kind of yearning zest for life. He hated the Welsh. I didn't give a damn about race--Welsh, Irish, it's all the same to me. A lot of Welsh people are anti-English. I've got no bones to grind, I told O'Toole. He said, "You're like that other Welsh bastard, Richard Burton. You're a fucking misfit. Play the piano and all that stuff, and you're a stargazer." Because I like astronomy. It got up his nose for some reason. He was pretty smashed and I had had a few and we were in a restaurant and I suddenly got out of my chair and leaned across the table and said, "You bastard, come outside." I meant it, I was going to deck him. I didn't care.

PLAYBOY: Did you care about what the critics said about your performance in Magic?

HOPKINS: I don't know why I did that film. They should have gone to somebody else, an American actor, a New York actor like Al Pacino.

PLAYBOY: Critic Pauline Kael felt you used all the emotions of a dummy.

HOPKINS: Who's this? Never heard of her. I'm always wary of knowledgeable people who are very critical. We have them in England. Jack Tinker, who is one of our foremost critics, works for one of the tabloids. It's the most irritating writing, because he creams his jeans over any Vanessa Redgrave performance. It's all bullshit, all these endless analyses of films.

PLAYBOY: You found Shirley MacLaine intolerable when you worked together in A Change of Seasons. What was the problem?

HOPKINS: We didn't get along too well. We didn't speak to each other. She didn't like me. She's very clever and talented, but she likes to run everything, she likes control. That's OK, but I can't be bothered with that circus. You have one director, you don't need three. You don't need the actress telling you what to do.

PLAYBOY: Have you considered working with someone like Barbra Streisand, who acts, directs and demands total control?

HOPKINS: No, I give them five minutes. I'm not going to put up with that. It's not that important. None of this has any consequence at all. And dubbing, editing, all that bullshit--do your job, go home. If somebody asks me, "Do you want to be involved in the development of this production?" I say, "No, give me the script, point the way to the studio and show me the camera and I'll do it." I have no interest in developing, in producing, in directing anything.

PLAYBOY: One television miniseries you did, Hollywood Wives, was a mess. Why did you do it?

HOPKINS: Just for a laugh. I was living in England and I wanted to spend some time in Los Angeles and my agent phoned up and said, "Do you want to do Hollywood Wives?" And I said, "Is it porno?" He said, "No." I said, "OK. How much are they paying me?" I had a good time. I never saw it.

PLAYBOY: Another miniseries you did, The Bunker, wasn't done for laughs. Was it difficult to get inside of Adolf Hitler's mind?

HOPKINS: I enjoyed doing it. When I was playing Hitler, I thought there must be a clue. What is his personal tragedy, his grief and his great loss? And I went back and looked at movies and the Olympic Games and the days of the Third Reich, seeing him standing there speaking, "Sieg Hell." What a dream that must have been for him and for those corrupt men around him. And for the 70 million German people on their feet saying that their savior had come. That's what they believed. I read Mein Kampf closely--the genocide policy, it was there, it was self-evident. With the Russian tanks moving in and with Germany's falling into rubble, he must have felt a tremendous sense of betrayal, that the people had let him down. I knew so much about Hitler, and I also knew the old man in him. He's sort of a Lear figure: the decrepit old man in the bunker with the loss of his dream; the greatest dictator in the world ruling over a million square miles of rubble and ruin. Extraordinary. I understood his need for sweet cakes and his tea parties. I styled Hitler after my own grandfather on my father's side, who was a bit of a tyrant. He was self-educated and full of all kinds of extraordinary opinions and philosophical insights. He was Victorian and had a hard life. But he was hard as nails, confused, frustrated, powerful and a sentimental ogre. Which Hitler was, as well. But my grandfather didn't kill anyone. He wasn't responsible for the death of millions of people.

PLAYBOY: You have also played other frighteningly evil men, onstage in Pravda and on-screen as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Why the fascination with the dark side?

HOPKINS: I've played bright people and monstrous people. In Pravda I played a man called Lambert Le Roux who was a male version of Margaret Thatcher. He was like Jaws, in the way sharks move. This man knew exactly what price people had, and he knew that everyone had a price. I loved playing that part because he saw through all the bullshit. He knew that contained in each human being is the jungle. That's a pretty bleak look at life, but there is a part that is exciting. Lecter also sees the jungle inside each human being, he sees the dark side. It's a nihilistic truth and it's a Nietzschean view of the world.

PLAYBOY:,Before you filmed The Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme said he was initially repelled by the idea of doing a film about a serial killer. Did you feel that way as well?

HOPKINS: No. I didn't think it was an exploitation movie. It was a well-constructed thriller. I had no qualms about playing Lecter, because he's a piece of fiction, a product of the imagination. A bizarre, strange, intriguing character.

PLAYBOY: Were you concerned at all about the glorification of violence, that someone might see the film and be influenced by it?

HOPKINS: No, I didn't think it glorified violence. The cinemas are full of violent films. Like Rambo and Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Schwarzenegger movies. They are very violent and dehumanizing. Schwarzenegger's stuff is antihuman, antihumanity: The human being is turned into a machine state. They are entertaining, but there's something almost fascist, something odd, about them. But they are also very camp.

PLAYBOY: Did you see the film as strange kind of fairy tale?

HOPKINS: Yes. The story's about Clarice, it's not about me. It's some strange, Gothic fairy tale that she's sent out by the king to kill the monster. There's an evil scourge on the land and he says, "Slay the dragon. But you have to talk to the prime dark angel." She goes down into the bowels of hell and meets this dark angel. It's all very erotic. It's a romantic figure, the angel of death. He makes her strong and he opens her up. It's a primitive, archetypal fairy tale.

PLAYBOY: Why are evil men often sexy?

HOPKINS: Power. Evil has its own power. Power is erotic. Remember when Henry Kissinger was secretary of state and he had all those women and young girls around? Politicians are powerful and directors are powerful. People who run industries are powerful. They are erotic symbols. Power is sex. Richard III is sex. I don't think Hitler was sexy, but people used to have orgasms when he spoke.

PLAYBOY: Are we drawn to these people because we all have a darker side?

HOPKINS: We would all like to be machinelike and have no emotions. I long for it all the time. Have no emotions so that I could make no mistakes and be ice cold. I'd love to be like that, but I can't. I'm trapped in my own personality, which is constantly getting me into areas that I don't want to be in. I long to be somebody who is ice cold, brutal, tough and uncompromising. Of course, I'd probably hate myself.

Anthony Hopkins


PLAYBOY: When will we see a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs?

HOPKINS: I asked Jonathan, "Is there any news?" And he said, "Well, Tom Harris is writing. He's a slow writer."

PLAYBOY: Who else would play a good Lecter?

HOPKINS: Jack Nicholson. When I got the part, I wondered why they gave it to me.

PLAYBOY: The film's success had to have affected you in some way.

HOPKINS: Yes, it broke box-office records in the West End. I went with a friend and we sat in the car across the road. I looked at the lines of people and I saw my name up there and he said, "What do you think?" I said, "The weird thing is I don't feel anything." Nothing changes. I look in the mirror, and the same boring face is looking back.

PLAYBOY: Yet that boring face has been transformed into the face of monsters, madmen and tyrants. Have these roles given you insights into other levels of humanity?

HOPKINS: Yes. It's interesting watching people in power. Like watching Saddam Hussein, watching his whole body movement when somebody goes to meet him. When he went to the hospital after the Iraqis were bombed in that hotel, you saw a soldier's reaction. It was as if he were standing before some colossus, some monster figure, some bogeyman. Watch people with Hitler, watch people with powerful people, it's the same thing. When Saddam Hussein is talking, he doesn't actually look at the people he's with. He makes the other people around him invisible. Olivier had that quality and Francis Coppola has a bit of it. Powerful people have a way of making other people feel invisible. They have the power to ignore people--that's the way they rule.

PLAYBOY: John Huston was like that.

HOPKINS: I'm sure he was. A lot of directors are, a lot of moguls are. It's a dangerous area when directors start to feel their power: keeping people waiting, not answering their phones, turning up late. Gandhi said that being late is an act of violence, an act of terrorism, because it unnerves people. I think rudeness is a real spit in the face. There's a lot of rudeness in this business. It's one of the most insufferable parts of it. So when I direct, I go the other way to be kind to people, because to make people feel they're anonymous--to reduce them to numbers, to unimportance--is unspeakable. I've watched it happen. Actors and directors are fucking horrible. It puts me in an intolerant rage.

PLAYBOY: You've accused such British directors as Peter Brook, Tony Richardson and Ken Russell of using actors as puppets. Is that how you still feel?

HOPKINS: Yeah. I have no love for them at all. Richardson was one of the worst. Those directors, I hate them. I don't understand why actors don't stand up for themselves when they're being abused by some directors. Why not stand up and fight against maniacs? I fight it, I don't put up with it. I won't work. I hate directors who interfere, pass notes. If you have monsters, I don't care how great they are, it's not worth getting out of bed in the morning. I've walked out of two films. One was with some British jerk director who was crying in rage because I dared challenge him. Because I don't give a shit about my career. I don't like anyone bullying other people. On Dracula an assistant director shouted at the cameraman and I stopped and said, "Is this a concentration camp you're running here? Don't shout in front of me, just go fuck yourself, keep out of my way." I don't want to be a hero, I don't want to be everyone's champion, but if I see it, I'll stop it. I won't put up with it. I'm glad my anger is alive and healthy, because I don't want to become too docile.

PLAYBOY: When you now have to portray anger, do you just think of a few directors and it comes back?

HOPKINS: Yeah. I must say that 90 percent of the film directors I've worked with have been terrific. The theater is a different story. That's the breeding ground of such fabulous bullshit. Intellectual bullshit. These directors come straight out of Cambridge University with new innovations about Shakespeare. Hamlet dressed up as a Nazi. It's wanking, you know.

PLAYBOY: Don't some actors see the director as a father figure?

HOPKINS: Oh, I can't stand it. Think of the history of the human species. Think of the knowledge that has been brought forward about people's rights not to be controlled by other people. From national histories, the Holocaust, brutality, war, to the shop floor. Nobody can have power over you. I don't understand why we still put up with this bullshit. If you let these sharks get at you, they'll tear your innards out. They'll destroy you. Why bother with these people?

PLAYBOY: You mentioned the power of Francis Coppola. What kind of tyrant was he when you were filming Dracula?

HOPKINS: Francis is an enormous personality. He's charismatic, a controller, a dictator and a tyrant in his way. I say all these things with a positive feeling. The Godfather was one of the greatest films made and Apocalypse Now is a big, sprawling film of epic proportions. I watched him in that documentary about the making of Apocalypse. There he was in the swamps, up to his chest in water, directing the helicopter. This isn't a man covered in Gucci leather sitting in an office in Burbank. This man puts his money where his mouth is.

PLAYBOY: Were you pleased with the way Dracula turned out?

HOPKINS: It was a big, bold film. I've never seen anything like it. The only criticism I would have is, if I were Francis, I wouldn't do so much. He threw too much on the screen. I'd just say, "Right, we don't need all these shots." But that's the way he works. When he makes pasta, he puts everything in it. He's an excessive person with huge appetites.

PLAYBOY: Was it Winona Ryder who suggested you for the part?

HOPKINS: Yes, she did. Coppola told me that Winona had brought the Dracula script to him, and she wanted me. She's amazing. At 22 years of age, she has an extraordinary brain. She's extremely well read and knows herself.

PLAYBOY: Is it true that you are very uncomfortable in the presence of young and accomplished actresses?

HOPKINS: I can never really relax, especially with actresses. I met Meryl Streep in London and she paid me great compliments and I didn't know what to do or say. So when I get frightened, I give them a hug and I get physical. With Winona Ryder, I could never quite relax. The same thing with Jodie Foster--Jodie and I were slightly nervous around each other.

PLAYBOY: And what about young actors, such as Dracula's Gary Oldman?

HOPKINS: Gary Oldman is an exciting actor. He reminds me of the way I was some years ago. He's obsessive, which is good so long as it doesn't destroy him. I hope I've grown out of that obsession, because it's so uncomfortable living with that. He has that thing that O'Toole had, that wonderful quality of sheer bloody madness. Gary doesn't stop. He may be a bit of a pain in the ass to some people, but at least he's there, he's functioning, he's alive. If anything, Gary has to calm down a bit.

PLAYBOY: Your own madness and obsessions coincided with your drinking years. How big a drinker were you?

HOPKINS: I was a problem drinker. I drank for 15 years, which is not long. I had done severe damage to myself, I'd put on weight. I had done more damage to my emotional equipment. I was just very shaky and thought I was going mad. I felt it was hopeless and I wanted to end it all. My life was beginning to fall to pieces. I was a damn nuisance to be around.

PLAYBOY: Did you drink while you were acting?

HOPKINS: No, but I may as well have been drinking, because I was so hung over and intoxicated. You can function well while drinking. I did it quite successfully.

PLAYBOY: How long has it been since you last had a drink?

HOPKINS: Seventeen years.

PLAYBOY: Did you ever worry that you would lose your edge if you were to give up booze?

HOPKINS: Yeah, initially. But I didn't care, I just wanted to get that monkey off my back.

PLAYBOY: Is that when you found Alcoholics Anonymous?

HOPKINS: You can't print that name, you know.

PLAYBOY: Why not?

HOPKINS: You have to respect the anonymity of the tradition. So you mustn't print that. I would be very angry if you were to print that.

PLAYBOY: This won't be the first time that name has seen print. The more important issue is why it works for you.

HOPKINS: I found there were people who were just like me, and their job is to help people who suffer just like themselves. A network is there night and day if you want it and it saved my life. I'm so indebted to them that I try to observe the rules and traditions.

PLAYBOY: Didn't you once drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix without realizing that you'd done it?

HOPKINS: I remember doing it, but I had fallen asleep at the wheel. I was intoxicated and I came back to Los Angeles and just reached my wit's end. I could have killed somebody with my car.

PLAYBOY: You could have died as well.

HOPKINS: That was horrifying. All of my problems from when I was a little kid come back to this inability to fit in and live peacefully in the world, to this feeling of being an outsider. When you take drugs or booze it makes you fit in for a while. That's why it's so attractive. Booze is just narcotics in a bottle. It's a depressant. And anything you can get to fix you is an addiction. Whether it's sex or food or work or success, if it becomes a fixation then it's an addiction and you become dependent on that addiction. It can ruin your life.

PLAYBOY: What about other drugs, such as marijuana or acid?

HOPKINS: No, I never messed with that stuff. But I have had enough tequila in me to know what an acid trip is like.

PLAYBOY: Was your drinking part of the cause of the failure of your first marriage?

HOPKINS: I don't want to talk about that.

PLAYBOY: At all?

HOPKINS: Nope. It's over. It was my problem. My fault. We produced one child from that and got divorced.

PLAYBOY: We don't know much about it.

HOPKINS: I don't want you to know anything. It's over.

PLAYBOY: Can we talk at all about your daughter?

HOPKINS: No. Because she's changed her name. She wants to get on with her career.

PLAYBOY: Are you friends with her?

HOPKINS: Oh, yeah. I saw her just recently, but that's over as well. You're not going to get anything out of me. I'm keeping to myself the personal parts of my life that would be painful to my exwife and daughter. I accept full responsibility. It was something that didn't work. It's over.

PLAYBOY: Didn't you once play a character in The Good Father who had to vent his rage against his wife?

HOPKINS: Yes, I did. The director, Mike Newell, was a complex man. He wanted to talk about the part and degrees of rage and anger. I said, "Listen, let's just shoot it. I know all about anger." He said, "Yeah, but let's talk about it." And I said, "No, look, I bring the child back, I dump him on the mother. She slams the door in my face and I kick the door, that's it. There's nothing about degrees of anger. I know this man inside out and backward; he's me. I've done all these things, I've been through a marriage, I've been through a disastrous divorce. I have all that violence in me, so let's just do it." So we did.
During one scene in that movie I broke down, which I had never done before. I've always been in charge of my emotions, but I broke down. I had walked out of my first marriage, which was a disaster, and I left my child, Abigail. I felt ashamed and angry with myself. It's the first time I acknowledged that anything had any ties on me, because I've always tried to deny emotion. It shook me.

PLAYBOY: So your personal life intruded on your life of make-believe?

HOPKINS: Yes. I'm stunned by the hurt the children go through over divorces, with their innocence and with adult stupidity. It hurt me that I'd been irresponsible. But I wasn't fit for marriage or to bring up a family.

PLAYBOY: How old was your child when you were playing this role?

HOPKINS: About 15, 16 maybe. She has a small part in The Remains of the Day. She's a good actress.

PLAYBOY: Did she ask you to get her a part?

HOPKINS: No, I just went to the producer and said, "I'd like my daughter to do this. What do you think?"

PLAYBOY: Did she have any problem with that?

HOPKINS: No, she loved it.

PLAYBOY: Do you give her advice?

HOPKINS: No. When we were on the set together I stayed away. She changed her name so they didn't know who she was. We were in a scene together. She's one of the housemaids and she's with my father as he's dying and she wakes him up when I come into the room. She said, "I was nervous." And I put my arm around her and said, "You looked terrific, it was great."

PLAYBOY: You've said seeing her was like seeing yourself in drag.

HOPKINS: We do look a little alike, but she has all the burning questions I had. She's much smarter than I am. She's very determined.

PLAYBOY: How long did it take for you to become friends? Was that a difficult process?

HOPKINS: We got close a few years ago and she came and stayed with us. She was doing her own numbers, playing some sorts of scenes for herself, trying to impress me or being manipulative. I said, forget it. I just withdrew. I always withdraw from people. I try not to let people absorb too much of my energy. Once people start latching on to me and try to draw things out of me and control me, I wave them goodbye, sometimes forever, and I won't go back. I don't like being controlled by anyone.

PLAYBOY: But when it comes to your own daughter, don't you make certain allowances? Clearly you two have had a reconciliation.

HOPKINS: I was quite prepared to go into the wilderness without her. I was prepared not to see her again. It doesn't matter to me, you see. We have to be tough and callous about it all, live our lives. It's a selfish way of looking at it, but I don't have a conscience. I suppose it's a bit indifferent.

PLAYBOY: Do you have contact with her mother as well?

HOPKINS: No. After our scene together I wrote to her mother and her grandmother and said, "She did really well at this and I'm so pleased for her." But that's it.

PLAYBOY: Your second marriage has lasted for 20 years. How did you meet Jennifer Lynton?

HOPKINS: I was up in Scotland for a film called When Eight Bells Toll and she was working for the production company. I arrived at the airport worse for wear, having had a few drinks on a late plane--I'd missed the other one--and her boss said, "One of our actors is missing and he's probably going to turn up on the next flight; could you go down and meet him and give him his call sheets for tomorrow morning? He's a bit of a nuisance. His name is Tony Hopkins." And as I got off the plane she was there and as soon as she saw me she thought, That's him. I'm going to marry him. And then she took an instant dislike to me. I was rude, like lots of actors.

PLAYBOY: Did you even notice her?

HOPKINS: Nope. And a few weeks later I was at a party and I asked her out. She wrote to a friend of hers and said, "I met an actor named Anthony Hopkins and he was quite offensive, but I feel drawn to him in some strange way.

PLAYBOY: Are you uncomfortable with your former intensity?

HOPKINS: Yes, I am. I want to forget it. It was a stage in my life when I was very unattractive, very tiresome. It sounds weird, but everything to do with acting--the intensity of acting, the meaning, the importance of this to me now is incomprehensible. My whole attitude about it has changed drastically in the past couple of years. The whole acting business has changed. It's work, it's a job, it's something I do quite well and I enjoy it. It doesn't consume my brain, it doesn't eat me up. I show up and do what's in front of me. It's the only way I can function.

PLAYBOY: Are you a changed man?

HOPKINS: It's like having slipped off the edge. I feel a sort of emptiness; there's no resistance for me. I've done a few television interviews lately, and I was looking at myself. If I were someone else watching this man, I would have thought, What an extraordinary attitude to his work. Because I feel detached from it. It's as if all my ambition is gone. I'm not comfortable talking about this. It leaves me puzzled, as if to say, "What importance is any of this?" It's of no consequence at all to me.

PLAYBOY: Still, to get an insight into who you are, we have to look at who you were.

HOPKINS: The only negative or violent emotion I feel is that I get scared when I get cornered by the intensity of this business, by people who say, "You have to do this, this is an important career move." I don't give a shit about anything. Because I don't care about it anymore, something else has come into my life, which is a real profound enjoyment of it.

PLAYBOY: Lao-tzu said, "How do you clear muddy water? You don't stir it, you let it settle to the bottom."

HOPKINS: That's it, it's a feeling of settling. The funny thing is that everything is coming to me.

PLAYBOY: Were you surprised by the critical acclaim of Howards End?

HOPKINS: I wasn't. I thought it was going to be a good film. It was received well in England, and that surprised me, because the English don't like anything. They knock everything. They always have a go at Ken Branagh--and he's the only filmmaker we have in England.

PLAYBOY: Is there much of a film industry in England these days?

HOPKINS: No film industry at all in England. I don't think people care, they don't give a damn about it. The British are television addicts. And yet the cinemas are beginning to fill up, but it's all American movies. We don't have any British movies much to speak of. I think the first British actor who really worked well in cinema was Albert Finney. He was a back-street Marlon Brando. He brought a great wittiness and power to the screen. The best actor we've had. Burton had it as well. The problems with the British film industry started in the Sixties when directors made films for their friends, not for the public. They were making films about washing lines and brass bands in North Country towns. So what? Who cares?

PLAYBOY: You've expressed your admiration for Finney. Who else have you found extraordinary?

HOPKINS: I suppose Olivier was, in his way. He represented something.

PLAYBOY: What about Mick Jagger, who acted with you in Freejack?

HOPKINS: I was only with him for a few days. He's just an ordinary guy, very pleasant, easygoing.

PLAYBOY: If Jagger is ordinary, what does that make Elvis and Madonna?

HOPKINS: Madonna and Elvis are self-creations. That's their genius, they invented themselves. I don't know if they're human. I'd like to have met Orson Welles. He was a mess at the end of his life. It's not worth it, is it? Loneliness, sheer loneliness. And I'd like to meet Brando, though I know nothing about him except what one reads in the news.

PLAYBOY: Do you have an opinion about Brando and George C. Scott rejecting their Oscars?

HOPKINS: It's insulting. It's criminal. It's fucking pompous of them. Who the hell do they think they are? People in a good industry that has been very good to them and they make a lot of money, they're very rich in a luxury business. People who get the Oscar and use it as a doorstop for the toilet door--what are they trying to prove? It's like somebody who gets up to get the Oscar in an evening suit, a tux, and wears tennis shoes. So, big deal, you're making a gesture, you're showing us what a rebel you are? You're showing us what a conservative arsehole you are. They are assholes. I admire Scott and Brando, they are terrific, great actors. Why do they demean themselves? Why do that? Why insult people who want to see them? Why turn on them and piss in people's faces? That's what they're doing. They are turning around and farting in people's faces.

PLAYBOY: What actors do you most admire?

HOPKINS: Faye Dunaway, she's one of the best American actresses. I like Pacino very much. De Niro. Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder. My favorite actors are American actors.

PLAYBOY: You're leaving out last year's Oscar winner and your fellow countryman, Emma Thompson.

HOPKINS: She's a really great actress. I don't know what it is about her. She's one of the most intelligent actors I've worked with because she keeps it all simple, direct and clear.

PLAYBOY: Does she work at all the way you work?

HOPKINS: We work in exactly the same way. I've done two films now with her. There's no bullshit with her. That's a compliment to myself, isn't it? We get on so well together because we seem to keep it light. You get into the character and then you do it. She asked James Ivory, "How should I age?" Then she came up with something brilliant. All she did, she wore brighter lipstick, had long, very varnished nails, and smoked a cigarette. It was a hardness and it was extraordinary. That was her contribution.

PLAYBOY: Actors like Pacino and De Niro seem to spend a lot more time than you do getting into their roles.

HOPKINS: Pacino and Dustin Hoffman and De Niro work very intensely, and they produce wonderful performances. I can't do that. For example, on The Remains of the Day I thought I had better go and study some butlers. A friend of mine introduced me to a butler at the Palace. I expected to meet a dummy. He was a very nice young fellow, didn't speak with a kind of upper-class accent, not vain. Just an ordinary, straightforward guy. And he was one of the top butlers. So I thought, well, that's the way it is. This butler I'm playing, Stevens, is a unique butler. He's so intent on being the perfect butler he just waves goodbye to his whole life. He's a bit of a fanatic, a perfectionist. He's over the top, he tries to do everything so precisely. His tragedy is he can't forgive himself and he begins to slip as he's getting older. He has longings, yearnings, and he can't understand them, because he's so closed. And that's his problem. He's so lacking in self-knowledge, it's heartbreaking. When I read the script for Remains of the Day I started looking at scenes and putting them together. Once you've learned the dance steps you're free. I don't go along with the idea that you have to wait for the lines to come. I don't think they come to you, you have to learn them. Maybe that's why a lot of American actors say all English actors are facile. Maybe they have a point, but for me, I have to learn the text. That's the most important thing, because in the text lies all the essence.

PLAYBOY: What tricks do you use to help you learn your lines?

HOPKINS: I take sections of the script and write it all out in longhand. Then I tape it to the washbasin and I learn it in parrot fashion. Say it out loud 20 times. I have little marks in different colored pencils that look like cartwheels--a fourstroke asterisk surrounded by a circle, which means "five." I put them in my notebook. They're the number of times I've gone over them. It's an obsession, really. I know that if I've done it 150 times I really know it well. Sometimes I learn the end of the play first.
I also do old magic tricks, like knock myself on the head three times in order to remember something. I know the text so well that I don't have to act it, and when the other actors have it you start playing tennis with it, hitting the ball back to one another. Everything starts to flow and your body responds because what you've done is concretize your thoughts.

PLAYBOY: It certainly seems that your life has been like a game of racquetball, bouncing off four walls and the ceiling.

HOPKINS: I love the bizarre arrangement of life, the choreography of life, where you don't know what's going to happen next. And my life has been a choreography. It's been such a series of dreamlike events.

PLAYBOY: Is that the wisdom of Anthony Hopkins: Life is choreography, expect nothing?

HOPKINS: Ask nothing, expect nothing and accept everything. That's it. I say to myself every day, like a meditation: "It's none of my business what people say of me or think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do for fun and it's all in the game. The wonderful game, the play of life on life itself. Nothing to win, nothing to lose, nothing to win, nothing to prove. No sweat, no big deal. Because of myself I am nothing, and of myself I've been nothing.

PLAYBOY: Where is that from?

HOPKINS: I made it up--it came to me at a moment of severe depression ten years ago, sitting in a hotel in Rome. I was having an ego problem because I hadn't got what I wanted. I was sitting in a garden with a notepad, trying to write a book, and I wrote that down. It became clear to me. I repeated that to myself like a mantra. Ever since, a lot of extraordinary things have happened in my life.

PLAYBOY: And you haven't been depressed since?

HOPKINS: Well, I suffered through a sort of clinical depression about six years ago, and Jenni said, "Maybe you're always depressed. You're Welsh, you're an actor, maybe you ought to accept that's what you are." And I said, "No, I can't accept that. This is a role I'm playing. We play roles in our behavior, emotional games with ourselves. If we act as if we're depressed, then we'll be depressed. If we act as if we're troubled, then we'll be troubled. Too much thinking can wreck you. I can sit in the sun and think my way through the universe and just make myself miserable. People have too much time on their hands, too much time in order to get bored. All my problems come from arguments with myself. And recently I stopped fighting with myself.

PLAYBOY: Did you go into a depression when your father died in 1981? Were you at peace with him? Or were there things left unsaid?

HOPKINS: I was never very demonstrative emotionally or affectionate with my dad. I didn't trust emotions or feelings at all. I gave his hand a squeeze before he died, and said "I love you." That's the first time I'd ever said that in my life and I kind of muttered it and he gave my hand a squeeze and then he died. It was funny going to the hospital to see him and I thought, Well, that's the end of that. Kind of a sobering thought. It does slow you down for a moment.

PLAYBOY: Did you ever kiss your dad?

HOPKINS: When he was dead.

PLAYBOY: Do you have any fears about your own death?

HOPKINS: I don't. I know that in the end there's a peace, a real peace, and maybe darkness and nothing. I don't have morbid thoughts about it. I'm in a state of grace, I suppose. Maybe it's Zen. My epitaph, if I ever have one, will be, "What was that all about?"



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