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Hopkins on Hopkins

Actor reflects on memorable roles

“The Lion in Winter” (1968)
Prince Richard

“That’s a good one. I saw it the other day on TV. I hadn’t watched it in years. … I turned on in the middle of it and there was this scene in this garden with Katharine Hepburn. ‘Who’s that funny guy there?’ I looked at it and thought, ‘God that’s almost 40 years ago, that’s extraordinary.’ It was really fascinating looking at it because it’s like another life, and I’m almost unrecognizable. I don’t mean physically, but an unrecognizable personality. Memories are very vivid because (Peter) O’Toole and I used to drink a lot and Katharine Hepburn would get angry and say, ‘You English actors are all a bunch of drunks!’ ”

“Magic” (1978)
Corky and the voice of Fats the Dummy

“I worked hard on it. Richard Attenborough just let me go with it. He got me a ventriloquist to work with and a magician, and there was basic stuff I had to learn. I was able to find the voice of the dummy. I remember up in Northern California, it was the middle of a huge drought, and they’d expect this sunny weather to last forever, and then suddenly it rained and rained and rained. I remember sitting in this trailer waiting for them to start the movie for about two days, and I remember getting bacon sandwiches from the craft services truck and listening to the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” all the time, then having to rethink the film because it rained so much.”

“The Bounty” (1984)
Captain Bligh

“Roger (Donaldson) and I didn’t get on too well on that one. We’ve become the best of friends. He’s a great director. It was a tough one to do. Roger didn’t have a great amount of time to prepare that, so there was a bit of tension there. He did a lot of takes, and I didn’t want to. It was all so stupid — when you are young, you are arrogant and think you know it all, but this time (on ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’) I appreciated what a fine director Roger is and I just went along with whatever he wanted to do. I’ve gone through a remarkable change in my life, and 20 years can change your whole personality and change your attitude about everything and make it easier.”

“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
Dr. Hannibal Lecter

“Oh that was a lot of fun. I enjoyed Jonathan Demme very much. When I read the script I knew it was going to be a big commercial film, it was such a powerful script, and when I was offered the part I thought this is a kind of life-changer, I guess. But I didn’t really know until we started filming and then there was a buzz about the movie. Then it came out and was received with big praise by the critics, but I didn’t expect to get the Oscar for it because I was only onscreen for about 10 minutes. I never expected that. So when Kathy Bates called out my name, I thought, ‘Oh God, I’ve got an Oscar. Now I can do some bad films!'”

“The Remains of the Day” (1993)
Stevens, the butler

“I liked Emma Thompson, and James Ivory is a different sort of director. He doesn’t direct, he just stands and lets you do it, but in a way he knows what he wants. He trusts the actor to do what he’s expected to do. He’s kind of a remote man, but I enjoyed working with him. A lot of people said, ‘God, whoever wants to see a move about a butler?’ But it became quite a big success…and I enjoyed it. It was easy to make. It was kind of a sad movie. It was at a time that suited my way of life then. I was living in London back then, and my life in London was kind of just a flatland in a way, I enjoyed the movie, but there’s a kind of melancholy about it. “

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