Anthony Hopkins Interviewed – FRACTURE

     April 2, 2007

Let’s get the juicy info out of the way first. In regards to what Anthony Hopkins has coming up he says:

I was supposed to make a film about Hitchcock. It’s a really good script but it’s been postponed because they have to check with the Hitchcock estate. It’s about the making of “Psycho,” but not just about the making of “Psycho.” It’s about the inner workings of Hitchcock’s mind and his personality and his relationship with people.

I asked if it had a director and he said:

HOPKINS: Ryan Murphy, the director of “Running With Scissors.” But it’s been postponed. I’ve got another one on the table with Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy sometime this year. And another one, Wolfman, with Benicio Del Toro in London, but I haven’t heard anything more. My agent said it was a fine script. So all kinds of things.

And when I asked him what the Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy film was about he said:

It’s about three guys that work in an art gallery and they become obsessed with these three pieces in the same gallery so they steal the pieces. It’s a nice comedy.

I asked if it had a title and he said he couldn’t remember. So when I went to write this up I checked with IMDB and they don’t have either of these films listed for Anthony to be in so score one for Collider!

If you were just here for the unannounced stuff you don’t have to go any further down, we pretty much covered it. But if you’re a fan of Anthony Hopkins… here is the interview.

This was my first time talking with Anthony Hopkins and I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan. And how could I not be – the man is a legend. It’s funny because sometime an actor will walk in and you can feel the air in the room change, like everyone starts to breathe a little more carefully or pay a bit more attention. That’s what happened when Anthony came in, we all woke up.

This interview took place two days ago and it’s for the movie Fracture which gets released on April 20th. Here is the studio synopsis:

Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling star in the dramatic thriller Fracture. When a meticulous structural engineer (Hopkins) is found innocent of the attempted murder of his wife (Embeth Davidtz), the young district attorney (Gosling) who is prosecuting him becomes a crusader for justice. Fracture is packed with twists and turns that weave in and out of the courtroom as the pair try to outwit each other.

The film features an outstanding supporting cast that includes Academy Award-nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Rosamund Pike (Pride &amp Prejudice), is directed by Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear, Frequency), and written by Dan Pyne (The Sum of All Fears, The Manchurian Candidate) and Glenn Gers.

Anthony was incredibly friendly and was making all of us laugh. The best part of the interview was when he demonstrated his barking sounds and cat noises. I swear he did them. Listen here to the audio of the interview to hear it for yourself. It seems that to break the tension or to keep people loose on set he’ll do some crazy things to make people laugh and relax. I’d like to meet the person who would tell him to stop.

During the interview (which was conducted in roundtable form) we talk about all the usual things – do people get nervous working with you, what’s with the barking, what does he have coming up, all the usual stuff.

And before you get to the interview I need to set it up by saying when he walked in he noticed my beard (imagine a long red braded beard that is far too long) and he started talking about a friend of his. Who was I to interrupt him?

HOPKINS: I’ve got a friend of mine, Terry Rollie. He’s a little older than me, which means he’s getting older. He’s always had an eye for the ladies. He was in London and he (speaks with a) Cockney (accent). He said “I was on the tube the other day, and I was reading my paper and I looked around and there was this (beautiful woman). I thought, she’s really nice. She looked at him and said, “Do you want to sit down?” He said he felt so humiliated.

QUESTION: RYAN SAID YOU HAVE NO WEAK SPOTS.

HOPKINS: Who said that?

QUESTION: RYAN. HE SAID HE COULDN’T SPOT YOUR WEAK SPOT.

HGPKINS: My weak spot is laziness. Oh, I have a lot of weak spots: cookies, croissants. My wife is always lecturing me about this. I tend to put it all down as habit or it’s just acting. People ask me how did you choose the part and how did you prepare for this work? I say I just learned the lines and showed up. She says, you shouldn’t say that. But I don’t know what else to say because that’s all I know how to do. My weak spot is that I don’t like analyzing so I tend to be a bit lazy. I tend to get bored quickly, which means I must be boring. I’ve been through situations where films have been rewritten. I was in a film once, not that long ago, I’m not going to mention names, it already was a good script. The director was a nice guy but he said we want to discuss the scenes. Let’s get together – it was a hotel in Canada- we sat around this table in a conference room – which is the most depressing place -the Comfort Inn or something. He said let’s go to page 64, and I was thinking Oh God! Why are you rewriting this? It’s just fine, and he said we need to make it … and I went (raspberry sound). On this one, there was a little bit of that, but it was for a good reason. Ryan was concerned about, and he was right about it, he was concerned about the actual accuracy. What happened to the gun? The forensic element to it. The detective thing. What about the fingerprints? Is a lawyer going to pick this film apart? Greg said we have to have a discussion with the lawyers and (rolls eyes). That’s my weak point, because I should have paid attention. But what happened was when he came back to do the reshoot, Ryan and Greg and some of the writers got together and really put it together.

QUESTION: RYAN SAYS YOU’RE A HERO OF HIS. IT WAS HARD TO WORK WITH YOU AT FIRST BECAUSE HE WANTED TO WATCH YOU WORK. HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR COSTARS FEEL COMFORTABLE?

HOPKINS: I’m never aware of that when it’s happening. But he’s interesting because the formulistic thing of this film, which I like about it, is I’m a fan of this sort of movie like “Jagged Edge” or “Presumed Innocent,” “Sleepers” which I watched again yesterday, they’re not just courtroom dramas, but whodunits. You watch it unravel. You watch it begin to evolve, if they’re well constructed. In this, because Crawford is always on top with the funny remarks, always knocking (Willy) off-balance, Ryan decided in the first scene we did together, the first shooting scene was the scene in the interrogation room, and he decided not to be fazed by Crawford but to duck and weave around him, which makes it much more interesting than me and I think for the scene because I think that if it was a young that was lost all the time, because every time he’d ask this guy a question (my character) would zap him, and after about two minutes the audience gets the joke so (they’d think) this guy is just stupid. Ryan played it very cleverly because already you have the formula of this man who has a terrible broken down car, a terrible life, and lives in a terrible apartment and is always late and looks a mess, which is actually Colombo. It’s the same formula. What he did is play it like Peter Falk did: never be put off. Because I think that’s a wonderful ingredient when Peter Falk tries to figure it out and he looks like he doesn’t know what time of day it is and you see the killer thinking this detective’s an idiot and a fool. But you know Falk is 10 moves ahead, and that’s what makes great whodunit films and I think this is what Ryan chose to do. Sometimes with younger actors, if you sense they’re intimidated, usually the first day, after they say, ‘cut,’ I’ll say, “Is that the way you’re going to do it?” “Is that what you want?” I’ll say to the director is that the way you want him to play it? “Why is that alright?” No, it’s your career. Then they get it.

QUESTION: WHAT WAS WITH THE BARKING?

HOPKINS: Yeah, I barked like a dog. On “The Elephant Man,” because they were so intense on that set, I used to do a cat. I’d do a clicking sound. (He makes the sound.) Quiet everyone. Then I’d meow. (Meowing sounds, growling sounds.) There’s a story of John Barrymore and he was on stage with Herbert Marshall, I think, and he was a great prankster. They were both wild boys. John went to the director on the scene where I’m sitting there, ring the phone. In the middle of the scene, the phone rings, and Herb (answers it), yes, and he says, “It’s for you.”(to John).

QUESTION: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE TO TURN UP THE HEAT?

HOPKINS: It’s just an instinct. I remember we did a reshoot of the last scene last year and my instinct was I don’t need to push it at all. I wanted to find a voice for the man. When I was reading the script an odd line becomes a favorite line. When he says in the interrogation room, I’m not going to play games with you, I say, I’m afraid you have to, old sport. And it’s like that’s it. For some reason, it sounded Irish. Then it connected to somebody I knew in England that was Irish and really a ruthless scary human being. I don’t know where he is now. He’s a great manipulator and con man. He’d say, where do you live and stare at you. He scared a lot of people. I don’t know his name. I thought, that’s this character. He’s tough he has no pity on anyone. I think he’s a little strange, I would cast him as a psychopath, but anyone who takes a pock shot and kills somebody must be a little bit disturbed. What he could have done with his wife is just divorced her. But he probably drove her to the lover anyway because she says at the beginning, I’m tired of these games before he kills her. He’s obviously a cruel man and a control man. Like marriages where somebody abuses somebody mentally, physically, that’s what he does. He’s certainly a mental abuser. He kills her as a kind of an existentialist exercise. There’s a book by Colin Wilson called “The Outsider,” which is a great book on the alienation of people who throughout history and literature are the outsiders like Crime &amp Punishment. They destroy things to see if they can free themselves from their own self-contempt. And I think Crawford is probably one of those guys.

QUESTION: HOW CAN HE HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IF HE SEES FLAWS ON EVERYBODY?

HOPKINS: He’s happy to be on his own in his own demented way.

QUESTION: YOU SAY IN THE NOTES THIS IS ONLY THE SECOND VILLAIN ROLE YOU’VE DONE.

HOPKINS: Yeah.

QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT ‘PRAVDA?”

HOPKINS: In “Magic,” my character’s just a little bit weird. He’s a psychopath. In “Pravda,” he wasn’t a villain, he was just a tycoon. With “Pravda,” with Lombard LeRoux, he knew that everyone was buyable, that everyone had a price. He said, when the journalist meets him, he says, I don’t want to talk to you, and Le Roux says, everyone says that, but they all do, because he knew what power was. It doesn’t make him evil, but ruthless.

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QUESTION: WHAT OTHER PROJECT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP?

HOPKINS: I was supposed to make a film about Hitchcock. It’s a really good script but it’s been postponed because they have to check with the Hitchcock estate. It’s about the making of “Psycho,” but not just about the making of “Psycho.” It’s about the inner workings of Hitchcock’s mind and his personality and his relationship with people.

QUESTION: DID IT HAVE A DIRECTOR?

HOPKINS: Ryan Murphy, the director of “Running With Scissors.” But it’s been postponed. I’ve got another one on the table with Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy sometime this year. And another one Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro in London, but I haven’t heard anything more. My agent said it was a fine script. So all kinds of things.

QUESTION: HAVEN’T YOU JUST DIRECTED?

HOPKINS: Yeah, I directed a film called “Slipstream,” which I wrote and play in it and wrote the music. It’s got a good cast: John Turturro, Christian Slater, Fionnula Flanagan.

QUESTION: WHATS THE STATUS?

HOPKINS: I think it’ll be released in September.

QUESTION: DID YOU ENJOY YOUR SUNDANCE EXPERIENCE? HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN THERE?

HOPKINS: Yeah, I did. I’ve only been there once for the actual festival but I went there just on the few days holiday with my wife about four years ago. We traveled around the country.

QUESTION: DID PART OF YOU WANT THIS GUY TO GET AWAY? WHEN YOU WERE READING THE SCRIPT DID YOU WANT HIM TO?

HOPKINS: Did you want him to get away? Some people wanted Lecter to get away with it. What it is: the classic villains like Iago and Richard III, they’re attractive and charismatic because they walk the knife edge. They are the existentialist men. They dare everything. They have no … like the Scottish king, Macbeth, they face catastrophe and unblinkingly go on. They’re mesmeric because there’s a part of our nature that yearns to be that courageous. There are people like that. I had an uncle like that. Uncle Eric was an amazing guy. He had no concerns about anything. He breezed through life. He never paid his income tax. Sometimes he was broke sometimes he made money. He wasn’t a con man but he was so charming. He was my hero. I said to my aunt Gussie who was his sister. She was an elderly lady – she was very Christian and churchgoing. Oh no, that’s about another brother, my grandfather’s brother, my uncle Jim, who was bad. He took money from people borrowed money from people and never paid it back. He led a lonely miserable life in the end. There’s a photograph of him that I have where he’s dressed in a kilt. I didn’t know he was Scottish. He looked like a real villain. I asked my aunt about him and she said, oh, he was bad terrible man but he made me laugh, though.

QUESTION: WOULD YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE MADE GOOD ACTORS?

HOPKINS: I guess they were.

QUESTION: YOU PUT YOUR SKILLS TO GOOD USE.

HOPKINS: My father was a frustrated actor. He was a good storyteller. But my Uncle Jim, I never met him, he died in 1936, I always wondered about him but everyone said he was bad.

QUESTION: WAS THERE A FILM THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE OR MADE YOU WANT TO GET INTO THIS BUSINESS?

HOPKINS: I saw a movie when I was a kid, about 12. It was a sentimental one with Charlie Chaplin called “Limelight.” My parents sent me to see it. When I was in school, I was so hopeless I didn’t know what time of day it was. I couldn’t play sports or understand what anyone was talking about. My father worried about me because I was an only child. I felt pretty lonely. But I could play the piano and paint. And write. So I was creative. I went to see “Limelight” about a failed man, a vaudeville guy who rescues this young girl from suicide. He dies in the end while she goes onto success, and it touched me so deeply and profoundly that it started to change my life. I wrote a letter to Chaplin, who was living in Switzerland. He’d just been kicked out of America. And I got a letter back from him that said, thank you for your nice letter and 40-odd years later, I was sitting in the Bay House doing Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr. Actually, in the garden of the house. I was in Charlie Chaplin’s garden having lunch. There was a knock on (my trailer) door and the director said, you’ve just been nominated for an Oscar. If someone had told me that 40 years to the month that that would have happened, I would have (shakes his head), but it was so odd. I’m convinced that life is an illusion, some kind of dream, a fabric that we weave for ourselves.

QUESTION: BESIDES THE HITCHCOCK ROLE IS THERE SOME OTHER CHARCATER YOU’D LIKE TO PLAY?

HOPKINS: No. I’ve done it.

QUESTION: WHAT’S THE ROLE YOU’RE DOING WITH WILLIAM H. MACY AND MORGAN FREEMAN?

HOPKINS: I don’t know about it yet. It’s about three guys that work in an art gallery and they become obsessed with these three pieces in the same gallery so they steal the pieces. It’s a nice comedy.

QUESTION: Does that film have a title?

HOPKINS: I can’t remember.

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