The Talks - October 19, 2011

 


Photo by Alex de Brabant

Sir Anthony Hopkins: ďI see the lines, but I donít careĒ

 

Mr. Hopkins, you once said that the more life you experience the more it seems like a dream. Was there a certain moment in your life where things seemed to diverge from reality?

Most of my last 30 years have been like that. Results and manifestations of things Iíd dreamed of as a young kid and wanted as a child and as a young man. I realized it maybe 30 years ago. I thought, ďThis is unreal. This has happened as I expected it to, as Iíd pictured it.Ē My whole life has been like that and Iím fascinated by that power that we all have. That we create our lives as we go.

Do you think actors and filmmakers have a more powerful inner life? People often say actors are more emotional, more sensitive.

Well, I always distrust the word art when it is applied to acting. Iíve always liked to be a meat and potatoes kind of actor who doesnít believe in any of the highfalutin stuff about acting, so I tend to be a little bit more cynical. But I guess it is a creative process; acting is a creative process, and directing and music. I think creative people Ė and I take myself as a creative person and it doesnít mean you have to be an actor, a musician, or a painter Ė but I think if you are in a creative profession or a creative business you do have a heightened awareness. It doesnít make you special though.

A lot of actors certainly behave as if they areÖ

You have to be careful of that because when you begin to believe you have license because you are a special person breathing special oxygen, thatís when youíre in big trouble. Thatís the road to insanity. And a lot of people in the studios are like that. They believe that they are special. I do think actors are blessed, or cursed, with maybe a slightly heightened awareness, which you have to use. Thatís all. It doesnít mean youíre superior or better than anyone it just means thatís the way our brains tick.

Were there any directors in the past that have really inspired you?

There have been a number of them and they all have their own quirky way of working. Iíve worked with Oliver Stone, Spielberg, a number of them. Some of the best and Iíve been lucky. When I direct I try to keep it a unique design of my own. Naturally youíre influenced. Oliver Stone is a great director and Iíve seen many films over the years, but I try to create stuff out of my own imagination. I want to break all the rules and mess about with it and make a different movie just for the fun of it.

Does acting help to keep you young?

Yeah. I am young! Being creative and keeping your brain occupied is very sensible because if you donít you die, slowly. Although sometimes I feel tired and think I ought to give it up, I donít want to just retire. No, I enjoy it all and you just keep going until the day comes when you canít do it anymore. And thatís what I want to do.

Are you still obsessed by acting?

I used to be a bit obsessed by it but not anymore. I do enjoy acting but I probably enjoy it more now because itís easier. I canít work in the theater because to me itís too serious. Itís like being in prison for me. I admire people that can do that but I canít do it. Iíd rather live my life and do a bit of acting in between.

What does your life look like these days?

I play piano and thatís my love. I read and I paint and I compose music, so Iíve got a pretty full creative life. And itís not because, you know, Iím obsessively creative. I enjoy painting. I donít know if Iím good at it, but I paint. I paint very quickly. I paint in acrylic and it seems to work and I write music and compose music and play the piano and I read a lot and lifeís good. So acting is something I do as a fill in.

You seem to be at harmony with yourselfÖ

I wish when I was younger I knew what I know today, what I feel like today, a kind of ease with myself. Because when youíre younger you are much more intense and everythingís much more important and you look back and you think, ďOh what was that all about?Ē Nothing is that important, just live your life because weíre here so briefly.

So you enjoy getting older?

Yeah. I keep in shape. I look in the mirror and I see the lines, but I donít care. Itís a good time. I donít know why itís such a good time, but itís a good time. Mortality is the great rescuer, it finally takes you out of everything, and that makes life good, you know? Read Carl Jung. It makes life richer because this is it; none of us know where we go and this is the fun of it.

Have you achieved everything you wanted to achieve?

Beyond everything. Iíve been very lucky. Iíve had my problems in the past, Iíve had my troubles, but you move on. I had a great life and I am really thankful for it.

 

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