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Dissecting Anthony Hopkins!

03.03.2015by: Jake Dee

ANTHONY HOPKINS!

You don't need this old dummy to tell you that Sir Anthony Hopkins is among the finest actors to ever draw a breath. Dude's an all-time great. Inarguably. An absolute titan of thespianism, screen and stage. No question. From Shakespearean highbrow to Hannibal Lector lowbrow, Hopkins commits just the same, with all his heart and soul, no matter what role he elects to explore in great depth. I love this guy! He's always been one of my favorites to watch, in large part due to just that...the sheer diversity within his filmography and, more specifically, his decades-long allegiance to the cinematic macabre. Dating back to 1977, Hopkins has appeared in (mostly) quality genre joints like AUDREY ROSE, MAGIC, THE ELEPHANT MAN, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, FREEJACK, DRACULA, THE EDGE, INSTINCT, HANNIBAL, RED DRAGON, FRACTURE, THE WOLFMAN, THE RITE, HITCHCOCK, plus many more. And you know what? At 77 years young, Tony ain't done yet!

So fire up the fava beans and let the Chianti breathe a bit, we're fin to cut this motherf*cker up in style! My good friends, please proceed with caution, Sir Anthony Hopkins is about to catch the much deserved Dissection of a lifetime!

BEST WORK

Get THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Here

Get HANNIBAL Here

Get RED DRAGON Here

Please believe, we'd be goddamn remiss if we didn't give an ardent upfront salute to the infamously icy Oscar winning turn as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - a role Sir Hop has reprised twice since (HANNIBAL, RED DRAGON) - as his most lasting and influential film role to date. Certainly among his impressive genre CV, and arguably across his comprehensive 50-year filmography as well. It's that special. That outstanding. That motherf*cking mortifying!

It all starts with Jonathan Demme's THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, the last of only three movies to ever win Oscars for the Big Five: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress. Score one for the f*cking horror yo! Word is Demme saw Hopkins as the sensitive, compassionate doctor in David Lynch's superb ELEPHANT MAN and thought he'd be a perfect choice to play the diametrically (and diabolically) opposed Hannibal Lecter. Now that's some vision! Of course, Hopkins took the part of a lifetime and absolutely crushed it, even veering from Ted Tally's sharp script to improvise what's become nothing short of cinematic lore. I'm talking those repulsive audible slurping sounds, the disconcerting mockery of Clarice's southern accent. I'm talking about the fact Hannibal never even blinks while speaking. Little touches Hopkins added to an already wonderfully written part - as a man of both high and low culture - a high-societal citizen and a reprehensibly low criminal. A genius and a killer!

Reprised to a slightly lesser effect in HANNIBAL and RED DRAGON (understandable when you go from Ridley Scott to Brett Ratner), I think what's so exceptional about Hannibal in LAMBS is the complexity of his character from a larger contextual standpoint. He's an odious monster, to be sure, but he's not even the primary antagonist in the film. In fact, aside from cannibalizing those two idiotic coppers in his cell, Lecter is an accomplice of goodness in the film. He helps Starling find her man, the even more baleful Buffalo Bill. To wit, Hannibal's a charmer, a deep conversationalist, with a keen radar for the human condition that he's able to impart upon Clarice. And of course, that's all Hopkins for riding the line between the two so effortlessly. It's a damn tall ask to make Hannibal likeable, and that's pretty much what Hopkins did. That final shot of him wading into the crowd of islanders, undetected, well...no sure about you, but it always puts a smile on my face!

WORST WORK

Get THE WOLFMAN Here

To be real about it, I've never seen Hopkins deliver a bad performance. Not once. Have you? Now, a few of his choices and odd selection of films roles later in his career can certainly be questioned, especially recently. But come on, doesn't that have more to do with an ageist Hollywood business model that has systematically marginalized the best of all actors once they hit a certain age than an actual newfound trend of poor script picking? I realize it's Anthony F*cking Hopkins here, but I definitely believe that to be the case. How else do you explain the recent run of substandard Hopkins fare like THE WOLFMAN, BARE KNUCKLES, THE RITE, RED 2, 360, KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN, etc. Hell, my man even had to take on a superhero franchise in THOR to stay relevant if not highly visible in this day. Kidding of course, but only sort of. Sir Hop has done more paltry genre joints in the last 5 years than at any other point in his illustrious 5-decade career.

But it's that first one we mentioned, isn't it? Boy oh boy that f*cking first one. THE WOLFMAN, with all its historical prestige and traditional breadth of brilliance dating back to 1941, could have been, should have been...and needed to be so much better than what Joe Johnston vilely, irreverentially shat out back in 2010. Unacceptable. I mean, how do you explain such a rote and banally painful movie when you've got a budget of $150 million, a hard-R studio rating, an A-list cast that included not only Hopkins but Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt, a script by Andrew Kevin Walker (SE7EN, SLEEPY HOLLOW), and first-rate makeup and FX work by the legendary Rick Baker? Seriously, how does that formula equal such a negative? Perhaps it's just as simple as the woeful ineptitude of director Joe Johnston, who basically endangered the JURASSIC PARK franchise for a good decade and a half after taking the reins from Spielberg in 2001. Because really, there's nothing Hopkins did or didn't do as John Talbot that places the disappointing follies of THE WOLFMAN 2010 on his shoulders. Other than, of course, agreeing to do it in the first place.

TRADEMARKS

Get HITCHCOCK Here

Consistency. Professionalism. Diversity. These are a few qualities that immediately leap to mind when thinking of Hopkins' movies. Sure we could drone on ad nauseam about his trademark role as Hannibal Lecter, but that's far too reductive, as I don't think a single person out there believes that one character identifies Hopkins as an actor. I suppose we could not the physicality, the piercing blue eyes and slicked-back hair, or the distinct smoothe vocal tone he's carried throughout. We could cite the penchant for playing characters based on real life people (NIXON, HITCHCOCK, etc.), or his recurring collaborations with Sir Richard Attenborough. And all are applicable, no doubt. But it's the consistent quality he brings each time out, the sheer professionalism he seems to comport himself with, and the gulf of diversity he's demonstrated over the 120 odd screen credits.

HIDDEN GEMS

Get MAGIC Here

As is always the case with a sterling 50 year career that includes nearly 130 big and small screen credits, buried nuggets of gold (not silver) tend to washed away with the currents. Sir Anthony's subset of genre film work is no exception, and to prove it, we'll give you two wildly disparate examples of such that were produced almost twenty years apart. Guys, gals...let's take a closer look at mystery of MAGIC and beauty from THE EDGE shall we?!

MAGIC is a such a brilliant little flick...as genuinely chilling as it is iniquitously under-seen. Then again, what else do you expect from such a skillfully executed sleight-of-hand?! Written by the great William Goldman, directed by the equally venerated Richard Attenborough (who recently deceased, RIP!), and of course, top-lined by the tremendous turn from Sir Anthony. If you've not seen this one, please do so as soon as humanly possible, as it's truly one of the best stints of psychological horror ever committed to the screen. It doesn't pander, it doesn't sell-out, it doesn't insult the audience or feel the need to offer a pat resolution. Hopkins plays Corky Withers, a fledgling Magician's assistant who over the course of time develops a legit ventriloquism routine with his 3-foot tall dummy, Fats. Problem is, over time Fats begins indulging a deleterious mind of its own, and soon the line between true demonic possession and schizophrenia becomes increasingly opaque. Hopkins in effect plays dual-roles, internalizing with great subtlety and suggestion while also acting out broadly on stage. It's a knock-out early performance from an undisputed master, augmented by the hall-of-fame writer and director.

And speaking of enshrined writers, where are all my fellow EDGE fans at? No, not f*cking U2...get out of here with that shite! I'm talking David Mamet's manly-genre-poking-killer-bear-flick THE EDGE, starring Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Goddamn I love this movie!

Get THE EDGE Here

You know the gist. Hopkins plays isolated genius billionaire Charles Morse, married to a gold-digging supermodel named Mickey (Elle Macpherson). When Morse agrees to attend one of her photo-shoots deep in the scenic Canadian wilderness, a disastrous plane-crash pits an intense cat-and-mouse mode of betrayal and survival between Charles and Robert Green (Baldwin), a photographer who happens to be sleeping with Mickey. But really, what the hell is a cat-and-mouse to a motherf*cking Kodiak Bear!

In addition to a script peppered with cool arcane factoids about life in the wild, THE EDGE is such a cleverly plotted, character-based man-vs.-man-vs.-nature thrillers that totally bucks convention and even pokes fun at all the genres employed. Mamet knows full well the absurdities of a genre piece like this, but he turns on them in a way that's never predictable. He's plotting one step ahead of the viewer, and with such great actors like Hopkins and Baldwin knowing exactly when to tip and not top their hand, the action feels organic and believable. Hopkins in particular, who arcs from a polished dignitary of severe wealth in the first act...to a disheveled, completely stripped down semi-savage by the third. From white-collar to blue-collar, from refined upstanding man of status to primal brood of survival of the fittest.

NEXT PROJECTS

Glancing past the semi AITH appropriate KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN, which Hopkins will appear in when it opens in select cities this Friday (March 6th), Tony has a trio of cool looking genre projects on the docket. And none of them are more exciting than his role on HBO's small screen adaptation of Michael Chrichton's WESTWORLD. Scope it...

In WESTWORLD, Two guests at a high-tech amusement park go on a wild west adventure. The park is peopled by robots and is designed to provide a 100% life like experience simulating Roman times, cowboy times, and medieval times. When the park's central computer breaks down, the robots start to run amok and our two guests find themselves stalked by a robot gunslinger.

As for Hopkins, he's set to play:

Dr. Robert Ford, the brilliant, taciturn and complicated creative director, chief programmer and chairman of the board of Westworld, who has an uncompromising creative vision for the park — and unorthodox methods of achieving it.

Not sure about you, but I cannot f*cking wait for this one to premiere sometime later this year. Stay posted for a legit release date to come down soon. Next is a picture called SOLACE, which has clear shades of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Peep it:

A psychic works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer.

So instead of a cannibalistic mad genius, it's a psychic who helps the FBI. Let's hope there's more to it than that, and that Hopkins' role is more than just a self-aware gimmick.

Finally on the genre slate is GO WITH ME, which looks to have a dreary atmospheric setting if nothing else. Check it:

A modern fable set against the rugged backdrop of a Pacific Northwest logging community, GO WITH ME tells the story of Lillian, a young woman newly returned to her hometown who becomes the subject of harassment by a man named Blackway, an ex-cop turned violent crimelord who operates without impunity in this small community on the edge of the wilderness. Forsaken by the local townspeople, advised by the Sheriff to leave town, Lillian decides instead to take a stand against her sociopathic stalker, and enlists the help of an ex-logger Lester (ANTHONY HOPKINS) and his laconic young sidekick Nate-the only two men in town brave enough, or crazy enough, to go with her, and go up against Blackway.

Sounds interesting, no? Still, I'm all about WESTWORLD, especially with Hopkins playing such a vital role!

OVERALL

Get DRACULA Here

It's no stretch to proclaim that Anthony Hopkins has delivered some of the all-time best acting performances in the history of genre movies. Period. Full stop. Next f*cking paragraph.

Celebrating his 50th year on screen in 2015 (Congrats Sir!), here's one prolonged AITH bow of gratitude to Hopkins for, since 1977, elevating the realm of genre cinema with his world-class acting ability. It's that simple. With A-list chops like these, there's no reason Hopkins need stray away from the high-art of the stage or hoity-toity period dramas, but he has time and time again like a genuine devotee of the macabre. In everything from AUDREY ROSE, MAGIC, THE ELEPHANT MAN, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, FREEJACK, DRACULA, THE EDGE, INSTINCT, HANNIBAL, RED DRAGON, FRACTURE, THE WOLFMAN, THE RITE, HITCHCOCK, and a handful of yet to be released genre joints...Hopkins brings the same amount of commitment and intensity as he does the aforementioned. We're all damn lucky for the first 50 Tony, here's to another!

Extra Tidbit: What's your favorite Hopkins performance?
Source: AITH

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