Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

Anthony Hopkins Interview -

‘He can play anything he wants, he's that good,' director Oliver Stone on his ‘Nixon', Anthony Hopkins.

Indeed, he is Sir Everyman. Anthony Hopkins enjoys his knighthood, his status and his increasing clout as the greatest film actor of his generation. Bottles have been corked, people charmed and words and situations conjured in his single-minded quest to be the very best.

Play a game. Has he portrayed Hitler? Or was it Churchill? Maybe it was Montgomery . Or then again, it could have been Colin Powell or Sadam Hussein. Is there a Mandella script? He's been C.S. Lewis in ‘Shadowlands' and won an Oscar as Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs'. He was the vampire vigilante in Francis Ford Coppola's ‘Dracula'( arguably one of the best versions) as well as the perfect presence in a string of Merchant-Ivory outings.

This week he's ‘Nixon' and for it in contention for the Best Actor Oscar on March 25. In a few tomorrows we'll see him as Picasso. Will the real Anthony Hopkins stand up?

It's unlikely. Hopkins ,58, is a man of many parts -- on screen. Away from it he also acts. The image is of the lilting, reformed -- for two decades -- alcoholic who has jettisoned the jungle juice but retained his passion.

If you have Richard Burton as a hero there is not just a voice and character but an appetite for life to match. Both from Wales . Both brooding Celts. The pressure always to look inwards. While Scots and Irish blow and cool swiftly the Welsh tend to build walls with their thoughts.

Anthony Hopkins made up his mind some long time ago what his goals were. He has kept to them.Others may be have changed position but he has played his own game. Recently, his private life has been a tabloid teacup. The stormy weather said he was involved with actress Joyce Ingalls, a fellow Alcoholics Anonymous member in Hollywood . More recently, the breeze is that he will attend the 68th Academy Awards with Jennifer his wife for the past 25 years.

Hopkins has always been good at picking the right leading lady. And, as it turns, out the roles. Why? Her says he has no idea and confessed:' I'm as baffled as anyone else. Sometimes I wonder whether they've got the right fellow and think, you know, I should be back in Port Talbot .'

But you know that he reads and thinks and plans before every project. His talent may baffle him but not the maze of opportunity afforded him. For that he needs no map, no help.

Hopkins is a selfish achiever. Nothing matters but the achievement, the success -- not in financial terms -- of making it work.

He will always find a motive:' My father reminded me of Willy Loman in ‘'Death of a Salesman''. He had a great personality but he felt he had failed.He worked hard and died of a heart disease.He'd always had great dreams. I saw my father's struggle -- I have sympathy for people who have to struggle. And I want to say to them:'' Don't struggle, give it up. You don't have the talent for it.'' But I can't do that because it's hurtful.

‘When my father died I remember standing at his death bed, my mother was crying and all she could say was ‘' all his dreams...'' I remember my father looking really exhausted, he was a tough guy. Grandfather was the same --a tough old monster, a bit of a dictator.'

Hopkins offers his memories in clipped Welsh tones so opposite to his clever celluloid mimics of history.He admits he is driven:' Ambition and success can cover a gaping whole in one's personality.Actors are like that.I think I'm like that. But you come to terms with it and you gradually recognise it for what it is.'

But he drives one. He stars in a directed the thriller ‘August' ( and wrote the music) which we'll see after ‘Surviving Picasso' which once again has Hopkins plying his talents for the Merchant-Ivory film company.

It was mostly filmed on location, all Paris and the Left Bank , the Saint-Germain-des-Pres; bald, stocky -- although two stone lighter than ‘Nixon' -- Hopkins once again goes through a remarkable metamorphis and into yet another person's life.

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