Anthony Hopkins biography

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Anthony Hopkins biography

Actor, director, composer. Born December 31, 1937, in Port Talbot, South Wales. Born in the same town in Wales as Richard Burton, Hopkins was the only child of two bakers. A dedicated pianist, he studied at the Cardiff College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Wales, after his graduation from high school. He then spent two years in the Army before getting a job as an actor and assistant stage manager at the Library Theater in Manchester. In 1961, Hopkins won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Hopkins made his professional stage debut in a 1964 London production of Julius Caesar. In 1967, he joined the National Theater Company, where he understudied Laurence Olivier and later replaced him in the lead role in a production of Dance of Death. Hopkins’ various productions with the National Theater over the years included David Hare’s Pravda (1985) and the title roles in Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, and Macbeth.

In 1974, Hopkins appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning Equus, written by Peter Shaffer. Over the course of his career, he continued to work in theater as well as films, even though he eventually became better known for his film work.

Hopkins made his big-screen debut in 1968’s The Lion in Winter, starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. He also appeared as Claudius in the 1969 film version of Hamlet, starring Nicol Williamson and directed by Tony Richardson. The 1972 film Young Winston was the first of five pictures Hopkins made with acclaimed director Richard Attenborough—the others included A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Magic (1978).

Initially, Hopkins gained more recognition among international audiences and critics for his edgy performances on television than for his film work. He first made a splash on American TV in 1971, when he played a doctor who collaborates with the Nazis in QB VII. In 1976, he won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the accused murderer of Charles and Anne Lindbergh’s infant son, in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case. He turned in another Emmy-winning performance as Adolf Hitler in the 1981 TV movie The Bunker. Hopkins’ other notable television works included the 1985 miniseries Hollywood Wives, The Tenth Man (1988), Heartland (1989), and One Man’s War (1991).

On the big screen, Hopkins appeared in a number of relatively little-seen films, including The Girl from Petrovka (1974), starring Goldie Hawn; Juggernaut (1974), starring Richard Harris; and Audrey Rose (1977). He had a supporting role in the feel-good family film International Velvet (1978), and starred with Anne Bancroft and Sir John Gielgud in David Lynch’s quirky The Elephant Man (1980). He also starred opposite Shirley MacLaine in A Change of Seasons (1980), and appeared as the tyrannical sea captain William Bligh in The Bounty (1984), costarring Mel Gibson. Other notable films included The Good Father (1987), The Dawning (1988), A Chorus of Disapproval (1988), Desperate Hours (1990), and The Efficiency Expert (1991).

In 1991, Hopkins earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his magnetic performance as the serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in the film adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel, The Silence of the Lambs. The film was the breakout critical success of the year, racking up four other Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actress (Jodie Foster, who played FBI trainee Clarice Starling), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The success of The Silence of the Lambs established Hopkins internationally as a leading dramatic actor. In 1992, he improved on his newly minted star status with a performance alongside Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave in the acclaimed film Howard’s End, made by the producer-director team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. He also appeared in the high-profile film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), directed by Francis Ford Coppola and costarring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves.

In 1993, Hopkins was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as a repressed English butler in the Merchant-Ivory film The Remains of the Day, also starring Thompson. That same year, he turned in an acclaimed performance as the author C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands, directed by Attenborough and costarring Debra Winger. In 1994, Hopkins starred in the poorly received The Road to Wellville and Legends of the Fall, costarring Brad Pitt. He garnered a third Best Actor nod in 1995 for his portrayal of President Richard M. Nixon in the Oliver Stone biopic Nixon.

A third collaboration with Merchant and Ivory, Surviving Picasso (1996), was less successful than the previous films, although Hopkins turned in an emotionally intense performance as the brilliant but tortured Pablo Picasso. Also in 1996, Hopkins made his feature directorial debut with August, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya; he also starred in the film and composed the score.

(An accomplished musician, Hopkins also had some experience as an orchestral conductor, making his debut in 1982 with the New Symphony Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall.)

After starring opposite Alec Baldwin and Elle Macpherson in the disappointing action-adventure film The Edge, Hopkins earned critical raves—and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination—for his performance as John Quincy Adams in the ambitious Steven Spielberg epic Amistad. He had more success with the action crowd-pleaser The Mask of Zorro, costarring Antonio Banderas and Hopkins’ fellow Welsh native Catherine Zeta-Jones. He reunited with Pitt in Meet Joe Black (1998) and starred with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Donald Sutherland in the thriller Instinct (1999); both films met with only mediocre success.

In 1999, Hopkins played the title role in Titus, the acclaimed stage director Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. The next year, he had a supporting turn in the spy thriller Mission: Impossible 2, starring Tom Cruise.

During the filming of Titus, Hopkins announced he was retiring from acting; he later retracted that statement and confirmed that he would be starring in an upcoming sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, based on Harris’ Hannibal. The film, directed by Ridley Scott and costarring Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling (Foster decided not to reprise the role), was released to box office success and mixed reviews in 2001. Later that year, Hopkins headlined the fantastical Hearts in Atlantis, based on a novel by Stephen King. Hopkins, who was knighted in 1993 by Queen Elizabeth II, has lived in the United States for extended periods since the mid-1970s. On April 12, 2000, he became a U.S. citizen in a private proceeding in Los Angeles, renouncing both his British citizenship and his honorary title (although he will still use the “Sir” while in Britain). His decision shocked many in his homeland, where one tabloid headline read “Hannibal Defector.”

Hopkins has one daughter, Abigail, from his first marriage, to Petronella Barker. He and Barker married in 1967 and divorced in 1972. He met his second wife, Jennifer Lynton, when she was a production secretary on one of his films. The couple married in 1973, separated in 1995, and reconciled in 1996; Hopkins reportedly filed for divorce in 1999.

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