The unknown life of Anthony Hopkins, the actor who only learned to be happy when he turned 75

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When last December Anthony Hopkins (Port Talbot, United Kingdom, 1937) celebrated in a Twitter video his 45 years without drinking alcohol, the revelation surprised his followers. His public image is that of an actor of the highest prestige in theater and cinema, a gentle British gentleman and, for a couple of years, an internet’s favorite grandfather. The truth is that Hopkins, who at 83 has broken the age record in the category of best actor at the Oscars with his nomination for The father, has repeatedly recounted his struggles with alcoholism, depression, and outbursts of anger. And the regrets for abandoning a newborn daughter. And his hatred of Shakespeare and everything British. Ladies and gentlemen, with you: the other Anthony Hopkins.

With this speech, the actor thanked the Oscar for the last Academy Awards.

“I remember the first day of school with that smell of rotten milk, straws and wet coats. I sat there, completely petrified, and that feeling stayed with me throughout my childhood and adolescence ”, told the magazine ‘Playboy‘, about his earliest memories of Port Talbot, the South Wales steel town where he grew up. Teachers, classmates, and his parents kept telling him that he was too dumb for any job. He never had any friends and spent his afternoons drawing or playing the piano. Sometimes he didn’t even attend his own birthday party. “I felt the dumbest in the class, maybe I had learning problems, but I was unable to understand anything. My childhood was useless and entirely confused. Everyone ridiculed me ”, revealed to The New York Times.

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Richard Burton was also from Port Talbot and Hopkins the madman, as he was called then, met him at the age of 15. “He told me that he became an actor because he was not worth any job. Then he got into his Jaguar and drove off. You didn’t see many cars like this in the postwar period. At that moment I understood that I needed to get out of there. Stop being who you were. Be rich and famous. And I began to dream of living in the United States, “Hopkins reminded the New York newspaper at the end of last year.

In a few years, he achieved the highest prestige to which any British interpreter aspires: starring in works at the National Theater. And when I was headlining the most important of all, Macbeth, left with the season halfway to shoot a movie in Hollywood. “The theater doesn’t fit my personality or my temperament. I never enjoyed it. British theater is very academic and I have always been a very bad student. I do not like authority, I suffered enough abuse as a child. I remember that Katharine Hepburn, during the filming of my first movie, The winter lionHe told me: ‘We are in the middle of January in the south of France and charging for it. This is the best life, hold on to it! ”, would count on Vanity Fair.

Actor Anthony Hopkins, in 1973, attends the SF&TV Awards (later called BAFTAs) at the Royal Albert Hall in London.Fox Photos (Getty Images)

In 1968 he abandoned his first wife, with whom he had a four-month-old baby, because he realized that he was “too selfish” to create a family. TO a journalist from The GuardianThree years ago, he explained that he comes “from a generation in which men were men. And the negative part of it is that we are not good at receiving love or giving it. We don’t understand it ”. Despite an attempt at rapprochement in the 1990s, Hopkins has never had a relationship with his daughter and today he doesn’t even know if he has any grandchildren.

During the 1970s, Hopkins acquired a certain reputation as a “temperamental actor.” He suffered outbursts of anger during filming, came to blows with directors, or disappeared without explanation. Years later, he himself would confess that, since he did not want to drink during the workday, his aggressiveness arose because he was always hungover. On December 29, 1975, Hopkins woke up in a Phoenix motel with no idea how he got there. He has not had a drink since. “I admitted that I was scared, which gave me wonderful freedom. I felt insecure, paranoid, terrified. I was afraid of being worthless, that I didn’t fit in anywhere, “he confessed a The New Yorker last month.

Although he tried to appease his character through sobriety, his demons were still behind him. Sometimes he would get in his car and drive for weeks, sometimes he would go days without speaking to anyone. In 1981, when he had already won two Emmys, his father passed away. During his last hours Anthony took the opportunity to tell him that he loved him (it was the first time he had told anyone in his life), but he only dared to kiss him once he had died. “When I collected his belongings, I found a map of the United States. He always wanted to go there. He died without doing it, ”Hopkins would regret. The doctor informed him that his heart had swollen from years and years of effort. “When I think about how my parents enslaved themselves all their lives in a bakery to earn a pittance… I’ve had it too easy. I am ashamed to be an actor. I should be doing something else. Acting is a third-rate art. They pay us too much and pay too much attention to us. I like the attention and the money, but I feel like a scammer, “he lamented in The Guardian.

Despite the success of Magic, The elephant Man O Mutiny on board, his career in Hollywood was not taking off and he had to return to London. “That part of my life is over, it is a closed chapter. I suppose I’ll have to settle for being a respectable actor in the theater and doing respectable work at the BBC for the rest of my life, ”he declared then. One afternoon he went to the cinema to see Arde Mississippi and he felt envy, anger and frustration at not having a career like Gene Hackman’s. Days later his American agent phoned him: Hackman had turned down the role of Hannibal Lecter and he was the second choice.

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster hold the Oscars each won for their role in 'The Silence of the Lambs' in 1992.
Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster hold the Oscars each won for their role in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ in 1992.John T. Barr (Getty Images)

Hopkins took 17 minutes in The silence of the lambs to go down in film history. That triumph brought him an Oscar, a title of sir and the collective perception of being what the general public calls “a shocker.” But his greatest triumph was personal. “I wanted to heal my internal wound, I wanted revenge. I wanted to dance on the graves of everyone who made me unhappy. He wanted to be rich and famous. And I have succeeded ”, then boasted in Vanity Fair.

During the nineties Hopkins was the most prestigious actor in the world. He played historical characters that, a priori, were not with him (Nixon, Picasso), he brought distinction to the “cinema of little cups” (Regreso a Howard’s End, Twilight lands, What remains of the day) and its definition of the actor’s work was ascribed to Hollywood folklore: “Be punctual, learn the lines and make sure your agent has received the check.” The audience assumed that Hopkins was a sensitive and withdrawn gentleman like the characters he played, but he corrected that perception: “I can be a tyrant. Unscrupulous. I want what I want. I am very, very selfish. Something is tormenting me, I don’t know what it is, but it causes me a lot of concern ”, confessed in 1996. “I went to see a psychologist and ended up crying in the first session. I was so ashamed. They taught me that men don’t cry ”. He did not return to therapy.

In 1993 Hopkins had an affair with an ex-girlfriend of Sylvester Stallone whom he met in Alcoholics Anonymous and his wife moved to London. Jenni doesn’t understand. I love being in Los Angeles. It’s Mickey Mouse land! There is so much money. More than you could dream of. It seems like a toy town to her, with an overstated enthusiasm and effusiveness. That’s what amazes me, ”explained the actor. His new status as a star, at least, allowed him to get what he wanted without having to scream or face anyone. “Now you just have to kindly ask the producer,” he said.

During the promotional interviews of The challenge, a thriller co-starring Alec Baldwin and a bear, if asked about his character arc Hopkins would reply, “I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.” When asked what attracted him to a project, he used to reply: “The money.” It was as if he wanted to dismantle the image that the public had created of him. The British gentleman with good manners all of a sudden faced his compatriots (“If they love that dirty, rainy, dog-shit-filled place on the sidewalks so much, let them keep it. They’re a bunch of weak, complaining, bored, envious people who are only happy if they’re miserable. They’re obsessed with not knowing The success goes to my head and angry because I have managed to escape from there. Fuck them ”).

Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas in 'The Mask of Zorro' (1998).  Hopkins derisively referred to such roles as those that "do not require interpretation".
Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas in ‘The Mask of Zorro’ (1998). Hopkins derisively referred to such roles as those that “require no acting.”Ronald Siemoneit (Getty Images)

The occasional commercial concession (The mask of Zorro or a scene Mission impossible 2, for which he charged 8 and 4 million euros, respectively) began to be the norm with franchises such as The werewolf, Thor O Transformers. Films whose scripts Hopkins listed NRA (No Acting Required, that is, “does not require interpreting”). During the filming of Transformers, Mark Wahlberg encouraged him to open a Twitter account, a social network that Hopkins seems to enjoy today more than any other user. His daily videos, halfway between manners and Dadaism, cause such a sensation that TikTok has also been opened. There Hopkins has published videos dancing to songs by Drake, Fleetwood Mac with his cat or Elvis Crespo with his wife, the Colombian Stella Arroyave. She convinced him to share his musical compositions and paintings with the world. The expert reviews have also been positive.

As his 70th birthday approached, he began to dream of Wales every night and decided to visit their land more often. At that time he also directed a movie, Slipstream, which satirized Hollywood. Hopkins confessed that once he had reached the top, he had only discovered that “there was nothing up there.” “By God, I should be in Port Talbot. Either dead or working in my father’s bakery ”, I reflected. The greatest relief in his maturity has been a diagnosis of mild Asperger’s, a condition on the autism functional spectrum that affects social interactions. This discovery, he explains, helped him better understand himself and explain why he had spent his whole life wanting to be alone.

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The actor assures that he has never been so happy as after turning 75. So much so that he has even made a friend and on top of that he is an actor: Ian McKellen, with whom he worked on the BBC film The Dresser in 2015. The experience encouraged him to return to Shakespeare, also with the BBC, in The Lear King. And during filming finally understood why so many people like Shakespeare. Lately he dreams of elephants, like the ones he saw as a child he saw in the 1937 adventure classic Elephant Boy with her grandfather. “I also think a lot about a day I spent with my father on the beach”, confessed to Interview. “I was crying because I had dropped a piece of candy that I had bought. I think of that scared kid, who was destined to grow up and become an idiot at school. Clumsy, lonely, angry. And I want to tell him: ‘It’s okay, kid, we’ve done well.’

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The unknown life of Anthony Hopkins, the actor who only learned to be happy when he turned 75