At 72 years old, Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins is one of the most well known actors in the world, and his good reputation has been earned with over 40 years of excellent film and television work.
Originally an actor on the Royal National Theatre stage, the Welshman has gone on to be a serial killer, two former US Presidents, a hunchback, a corrupt king, and many more. With numerous award nominations and wins, Hopkins doesn't seem to be slowing down even as the years roll past him. This weekend his newest film "The Wolfman" comes out, so in honor of the film and Sir Hopkins himself, here's a look at the best and worst of his roles.
Silence of the Lambs
It's no surprise that "Silence of the Lambs" tops the list of Anthony Hopkins' best movies. It won him the Academy Award for Best Actor, and it is only one of three films to ever win the top five Oscars: Best Picture, Actress, Actor, Director, and Screenplay. This thrilling film starred Hopkins as the brilliant, dangerous, and charismatic villain Hannibal Lecter, and Jodie Foster as his adversary/ally Clarice Starling. The FBI is looking for a serial killer and Lecter, a serial killer and former psychiatrist, may have the answers they are seeking. Lecter starts a game with Clarice, intrigued by her youth and ambition, to get private information from her in exchange for clues about the serial killer. Lecter is now one of the most famous villains in movie history, and Hopkins was highly praised for making the character both appealing and terrifying all at once. This led to him portraying Lecter twice more: in "Hannibal" and "Red Dragon."
The Remains of the Day
"The Remains of the Day" was based off a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and it came out in 1993 to wide critical praise, earning eight Oscar nominations. Hopkins played Mr. Stevens, the quiet, stoic, and loyal butler of the beautiful Darlington Hall. The movie goes between the past - where Stevens dealt with the busy staff and his growing relationship with Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) - and the present when his master has a tattered reputation and Miss Kenton has married. She sends a letter to Mr. Stevens, nostalgic about their past, and it becomes clear the two had a complicated slightly romantic past. However Mr. Stevens could never give in to any feelings he may or may not have had, because it would not be proper. Eventually Miss Kenton gave up and left the house for love and children. This was a very rich and sad story set beautifully in the 1950's English country side, and Hopkins managed to play thousands of emotions with his eyes while never expressing them on his face.
The Elephant Man
While "The Elephant Man" deviated from the historical story, it is widely beloved by critics and viewers alike. A very tragic movie, it's about a man named John Merrick (John Hurt) with physical deformities who is placed in a Victorian freak show. He is abused by his manager Bytes (Freddie Jones), and eventually Dr. Treves (Hopkins) takes a morbid interest in Merrick. He relates to him on a medical level only and breaks down the deformities in a lecture, but in time Treves starts to see Merrick as a human being and befriends him. The movie brings up questions about inner humanity, kindness, friendship, and if living in a gilded cage is really living free. Painful and emotional, "The Elephant Man" is not a movie easily forgotten. Hurt was nominated for an Oscar, but Hopkins' was overlooked, which is a shame since as the troubled Treves he really gave an excellent supportive performance.
Honorable Mentions: Amistad, Nixon, Shadowlands, Titus.
From day one "Bad Company" seemed like an odd movie, mostly because pairing up Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock was so weird it might just work. Random actor pairings have paid off before, but it doesn't always gel well on the screen. This is one of those times the chemistry was too off to be entertaining. Rock plays the twin brother of a CIA agent who has to pose as his brother to finish a mission for the CIA. Hopkins plays his mentor-ish figure who has to train and look out for him. Neither of them were very believable in their roles, and while the movie wasn't a complete box office failure, it didn't even make up its own budget. The critics despised "Bad Company," but Hopkins wasn't necessarily bad in it. He probably thought it would be different and wanted to try it out. Stick to what you're good at, Hopkins!
All the King's Men
The flop of the "All the King's Men" adaptation was shocking to everyone. It was considered a frontrunner for the Oscars that year and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. It had a hugely popular and respected cast, and it was said to be much more faithful to the novel than the 1949 version. It is about the rise of an idealist lawyer named Willie Stark (Sean Penn) and his eventual corruption due to his optimism shattered by underhanded politics all around him. He ends up gaining a great deal of power as a governor and wielding it fearlessly over everyone around him. Eventually his tyranny leads to his fall and that of the people surrounding him. Hopkins plays Judge Irwin, a stern and honorable man that tries to take on Stark and gets betrayed by his own stepson Jack (Jude Law). While most people agree the actors were fantastic, the film was cold and tedious and boring for most audiences. "Jackass Number Two" made more money than it in one weekend. How scary is that?
Story by Chelsea 'Dee' Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer