Anthony Hopkins on The Wolfman
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures
Oscar winner Sir Anthony Hopkins plays The Wolfman's father. That’s worth the price of admission alone, but you’d think it would be a hard sell for such an established, respected actor. It turns out, he takes it all in stride.
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“Why would I be concerned?” Hopkins asked. “Why would there be concerns? They offered me the part. That’s the reason I did it. The only slight edge I found was that being written by an American writer, which is fine, he’s a fine writer, but he tended to overstate the part I was playing, that he was an English guy who talked like this [in a stodgy voice] all the time. I can’t play that. I don’t want to play that. That’s alien to me. I can’t do that. I hate that sound.”
That’s what you hire Sir Anthony Hopkins for. He knows what to do. “So I thought I’d play it like a much quieter man based on someone I knew when I was a little boy, an old farmer who was kind of eccentric and he used to come to my father’s bake house. My father would give him stale bread to feed his pigs and I used to follow him and he was fascinating. We all, the kids, built up this fantasy about him that he was a demon or something. He was just a harmless old man. He didn’t speak very much. So I based my character on him and on the coldness.”
Heck, you’d think he’s a monster even if werewolves weren’t involved. “There’s one line in the script when I say to Benicio Del Toro, ‘By the way, I’m sorry to inform you, your brother’s body was found in a ditch on the Priory Road. Do you have the right clothes for the funeral?’ So cold. I like that about it so I pulled that coldness right through the character, that he’s not particularly crazy or bad or anything. He’s just eccentric and distant and ice cold. He says at one point, ‘Look into my eyes. I’m quite dead’ because he is already dead. He’s the walking dead. The living dead.”
That’s about as metaphorical as Sir Anthony cares to go. Beastly metaphors abound in a werewolf story but he’s just playing a cold man. “I just learned my lines, he learned his, and we showed up on set. There’s nothing more to it than that. You can talk about it a bit. I’m not even aware of it. I think the healthy way to live is to make friends with the beast inside oneself and that means not the beast but the shadow, the dark side of one’s nature. Have fun with it. It’s to accept everything about ourselves. In this case it’s a highly fantasized version of the shadow, of the imperfections. This is a monster growing inside of him like the alien in Ridley Scott’s Alien that pops out of John Hurt’s stomach. It’s the same thing but it’s a more fantasized science fiction thing. It’s more of a fantasy, a fairy tale if you want, Grimm’s fairytale. But relishing the beast, it’s a part of a psychologist. Relish everything that’s inside you: the imperfections, the darkness, the richness, the light and everything. That makes for a full life. As Nietzsche and Jung used to say, ‘Enjoy it all.’ But, of course, Sir John is completely bonkers. He’s not playing with a full deck either. He’s minus a sandwich in the picnic.”
The Wolfman opens to theatres on February 12th.
For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the The Wolfman Movie Page.
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures
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