The World's Fastest Indian

SOUND BITES

Which director would you like to work with that you haven’t before?? “I don’t think about tomorrow. I just do what comes in front of me.”

How do actors balance commerce vs. art?? “It’s a gamble. You never know. You could get a good script and it could end up as trash. It’s not any of my business.”

Up next: “Doing a movie with Emilio Estevez called ‘Bobby,’ about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

Twenty-one years ago, when Anthony Hopkins worked under the direction of Roger Donaldson on “The Bounty,” there were problems.

“We had a little bit of a difficult time,” Hopkins recalls. “We didn’t see eye to eye.”

However, the two “matured a little bit,” as the actor says, and recently sought the right film to work on together. Hopkins noticed a Hemingway novel on a bookshelf and decided to call Donaldson and say hello.

Donaldson’s response was to ask him if he already had received a screenplay that he had sent Hopkins that morning. “Not trying to read anything magical into it, but it was an odd coincidence,” Hopkins says.

The script was “The World’s Fastest Indian,” the story of New Zealand senior citizen Burt Munro and his improbable quest to set a land speed record on a 1920 Indian motorcycle he had tinkered with for decades. Hopkins signed on for the ride.

“There were long days because (Donaldson) wanted to get it absolutely right,” Hopkins says, noting that the helmer had been passionate about Munro since meeting him in 1971 and completing a documentary a year later. “This is the way he works. I just go along with the program. That’s what they’re paying me to do.”

The time was also right for Hopkins to play an upbeat character. “I had done enough of those tired, weird guys,” he says.

Preparing for the role was nothing special for Hopkins, who just reads a script a few times and then is “free to do what I want to do. The preparation is to be relaxed.” Other than fiddling with a Kiwi accent (and occasional discomfort from crouching astride the low-slung motorcycle for hours at a time), Hopkins says he slipped into the role easily.

Like Hopkins, Munro was seasoned to accept life’s hurdles — even his mortality — with less agitation than most people endure at a 30-second red light. “There are similarities in my own personality to him,” Hopkins explains. “I kind of have a laissez-faire attitude. I don’t take anything too much to heart, like I used to when I was younger. I don’t have a philosophy about anything. I’ve got the attitude ‘Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong.’ Neutrality — it makes life easier.”

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