INT: Anthony Hopkins
There are very few actors as iconic as the great Sir Anthony Hopkins. His award winning work travels from the horrific with his performance as Hannibal Lecter in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, HANNIBAL and RED DRAGON, to the uniquely bizarre in the underappreciated TITUS, to the sublime, in HOWARD'S END and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. I could continue linking him to some great movies, and a few that arent so great but that would take much too long. So I will continue with his recent work in FRACTURE, the story of a jilted man who shoots his wife out of jealousy and anger. But he is a smart man who meticulously plans out his revenge and makes it nearly impossible to convict. So a hotshot upstart played by Ryan Gosling takes a chance at the dice to see if he can outsmart the sharp as a tack criminal.
Recently, Anthony took the time to come and talk FRACTURE at The Four
Sir Anthony Hopkins: Okay. Here we go.
What was it about this character that really attracted you to taking on kind of, the dark character again?
Well, it was well written. Thats
the reason. Its a
well written script. I
mean, nothings perfect but
it was a
you know, Ive had
some good scripts over the years and Ive only played two
And if its well structured, and you know that you have no problem with re-writing or anything like that. I usually say, is this the final draft? Yeah. If they say, well, thats the third, were gonna still work on it Im a little cautious about it. When you say, yeah, okay good. I phoned Greg Hoblit, I talked with Greg Hoblit, we had lunch, something like that. I said Id love to do it. So thats the reason. And its easy; its not difficult to do. We did a re-shoot at the end. The ending wasnt satisfactory the way we finished it. Something like, eh, its okay But they tested, before test audiences and the audiences rated it rather high except they said the end wasnt satisfying. They wanted something more so they re-wrote the end and we re-shot in January. And Im glad.
I think Ryan [Gosling] and Greg Hoblit and Glenn [Gers] were responsible for that. Ryan wasnt happy with the way but the forensics, the structure, the legality and all that happened to the gun in court; I mean would we as a movie be attacked by lawyers, the legal profession saying this wouldnt hold up in court. We had to figure all that stuff out and Greg Hoblit is a meticulous director and he worked on NYPD Blue so he knows his way around all this kind of legal system. So he was very good to and he also made the movie Primal Fear. But I remember when we were filming hes say, hold it, lets take this line out lets do two versions of this so weve got to be absolutely sure weve got this version and weve got that version, maybe with one line spoken about a bullet or a single bullet. Stuff like that. So it was interesting doing it.
Did you kind of get into the odd humor of the character?
It was already written, I didnt have to anything with it.
When hed write it, did you
Yeah, I liked it. My favorite line was when he [Ryan] says Im not going to play games with you and I say, Im afraid you have to old sport. [Laughing] And that was really the one line that got me to respond and I thought, oh, I like this. A bit like Lecter.
How is it that, I was reading in the press kit that you just do the job and thats it to get into character you dont think about it too much, you just do it.
Some actors are into the method of acting, how is it that you dont need that?
Well maybe thats the way they have to work. I try to clear my mind and not think about it at all. However, I learn the text thoroughly so I know it all and then I can relax. It takes over itself. By going through it, Ill take it and look at it like this [picking up some notes] Ill mark it down and I go many, many times. By the time I know that Im learning it, as David Mamet said, learn it cold. Just learn it. Because once youve learned it youre free. But also, by learning it, there is a rhythm that comes out. Jus the writers rhythm and I take that rhythm into my own consciousness, I guess, and things start to evolve. Especially with that line, Im afraid you have to old sport I remember my memory flashed back to something in England years ago. Id met a man who was a real con-artist ruthless.
He probably could have been a killer. A ruthless guy I think he was a gangster. He could just stare you out and hed say things like, So what do ya mean by that? and he had a slight Irish accent and I thought, ah, thats the guy., So what do ya mean by that , when you said that about yer daughter? and you get somebody like that in a room and you think God, this is what I want to do with Crawford. I could smell the blood as I shot her. thats scary. And you realize, Crawfords a monster, Im not glorifying him, Crawfords monstrous. Theres nothing smart or nice about him.
But I know people like to see these character because I guess, part of human nature is, were adorn to the great classic figures like Iago in Othello or Shakespeares Richard the Third because they walk the edge all the time. They walk on the razors edge. They never apologize for anything they do. And even some of the great dictators in the world, the political monsters like Adolf Hitler or Stalin. They never apologize for anything; they never look over their shoulder. They are ruthless. I think this is what people are drawn to in a mesmerized, horrified way.
Well youve had a pretty decent career, but is there anyone in particular that youd still like to work with or any particular role youd like to do that you havent done?
No I suppose a few years ago I would have liked to work with directors like [Martin] Scorsese Oliver Stone, Spielberg, Coppola No, its philosophically Ive reached a point in my life that Im at a good age where Ive done everything I wanted to do. And to be free of wanting to work with Mr. Scorsese or whoever its wonderful to not care. But I admire people, I suppose I would have liked to have worked with Clint Eastwood, I think I admire him. I think hes one of the best. I mean, I like his style of directing not that Ive ever worked with him. Its two takes and is it in focus, then okay, move on. I like his attitude. But no, Im going to be Seventy at the end of the year, its a nice feeling I paint now, and I write music and I read. Go for walks on the beach. Its like the T.S. Elliot poem, I grow old. I grow old. I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled. [Laughing] Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I remember my favorite role of yours was in Howards End
It was a phenomenal movie and you were brilliant in it.
Its a good movie isnt it?
Absolutely are there certain roles that stand out for you personally in your career?
That. And Remains of the Day that was one of my favorites. I think that was one of my favorites, yeah, that was my favorite. I enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs of course. That was fun to do. I think Remains of the Day was the best that was the most satisfying thing. And this [Fracture] actually, this has to be one of the most enjoyable films Ive done in a long time, since those days. Thats a long time. Fifteen years? Made Silence of the Lambs seventeen years ago and Remains of the Day about fifteen years ago, so to get a script like this is a pleasant surprise. Cause you know, you have to go on working, you work and make a living. Though its a particularly good living
Sometimes you make a movie and its okay, its alright, and maybe get good reviews or maybe not. But looking back at so many in retrospects, I look back on some of them and I think, you know okay. [Laughing] And sometimes see them on television and Ill switch over to the other [channels], because theyre boring. Not bad but its kind of wooly you know, oh well, I wish they had left it alone instead of re-writing it all the time. I dont want to talk about re-writes because why? If they have no confidence in what theyve written then do they mess with it? I think it was Paul Newman who said to a director once, he said, why are you re-writing this into oblivion? We had a perfectly good script.
Can we talk a little bit about Gregs working style and also, youve worked with a lot of filmmakers, is there a common analogy for particularly the good ones?
Yeah, I like him because hes very precise. Well hes had so much experience working on television. Hes like Spielberg and people like that. They come and set and say, okay, this is what were going to do so put the camera there and I want this there. Tony can you okay, you did that, just rehearse. We want the camera here. And they get on with it. I like that because its like an efficient shop. And it gives you a sense of chemistry, gives you a sense of lets do it. The crew is always alert. Sometimes there is nothing so bad as a director coming on set and he doesnt know what he wants. You do fifteen, twenty, thirty takes and suddenly the crew is going [falling asleep].
I was on a film set two years ago and a very nice director but, will remain nameless take after take after take but there is no dynamic at the end its just, okay turn around oh, yeah action and the A.D. would [signal the director], oh yeah, cut. [Laughing] and then silence and then, oh, yeah lets go again. And you would think, Oh, Jeez Four oclock in the morning. I mean why? The crew is falling asleep because they are the guys that have gotta work late and take all this cable away. I think its unfair to do that to people. Either know what you are going to do, shoot it and move on. Clint Eastwood said, you know, what are you going to get if you do two takes, three takes, four takes, what are you going to get, perfection? [Laughing] Why do you need all that? And Greg Hoblits like three takes, four takes maybe. Seems to be maximum and hell do it for a good reason because he wants to some certain [moment] but hes generally confidant. Hes confidant in himself. Hes sure of himself. And if hes sure of himself you feel sure of yourself. Spielbergs like that.
So a common element for bad directors is just not a very clearly defined vision?
Well some, they want to do a lot of takes and I remember a scene with Spielberg in Amistad he did because he wanted to get variations on it. But when they give you a reason for it, not that they have to give you a reason but its kind of polite if they give you a reason, because if they dont it makes you feel really insecure. Oliver Stone has a different way of directing, Oliver will say to you things like, are you on drugs or something? [Laughing] You sure did it good yesterday, what happened to you today? It keeps you on your toes. Hes a great director. I like him.
Were you familiar with Ryans work before doing this?
I saw The Notebook, which is the first one Id seen. So I was very pleased when he was cast in this. He wasnt cast when I in fact they were still looking. And a yeah, hes good. Excellent actor.
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