Anthony Hopkins’s Final Destination
BY Jeremy Kinser
April 23 2010 7:20 PM ET
The film career of Sir Anthony Hopkins is a storied one. The gifted 72-year-old British actor has made an indelible impression on audiences since his feature film debut in 1968’s The Lion in Winter (effortlessly holding his own opposite Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole). His award-winning turn as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of Lambs, not to mention its sequel and prequel, is the stuff of legend. Yet the versatile actor is equally at home in the lush, sumptuous films of Merchant-Ivory (Howards End,The Remains of the Day,Surviving Picasso) as he is in big budget CGI-heavy epics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Wolfman. With such a diverse career, it’s interesting that only now is he playing his first gay character, Adam, the elegant expatriate in The City of Your Final Destination (now playing in select theaters). Hopkins’s understated turn in the languid, intelligent film, based on the novel by Peter Cameron, is a highlight of this first directorial effort by James Ivory since the death of his longtime producing partner, Ismail Merchant, in 2005.
During the phone conversation, the Academy Award–winning actor, who placed the call himself, is soft-spoken and genteel. He even apologizes for briefly pausing the conversation long enough to say goodbye to his wife. Only when asked about rumors of temperamental behavior on the set of Thor, the upcoming film adaptation of the popular Marvel comic, which Hopkins firmly denies, does the consummate professional raise his voice. Hopkins speaks with The Advocate for the first time about the inspiration for his first gay role, to dismiss reports of his volatile behavior, and laugh off rumors of that he wants to play Simon Cowell in a biopic.
The Advocate: I'm not sure how I should address you. Sir or Mr. Hopkins?
Anthony Hopkins: Just call me Tony.
Besides your latest, you’ve starred in many other Merchant-Ivory films, such as Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Do you think their being gay informed their filmmaking?
I knew them both, but I don’t know anything about their personal lives. I just know that they were close friends. I don’t want to comment on their personal lives. They were both very opposite in personality, or I think so anyway. James is very calm and relaxed, seems to be, and laid-back. Ismail was a ball of fire, tremendously charismatic. When he appeared on set everything lit up. He was a great personality, and when he appeared on the sets for whatever we were doing he was always the life and soul, especially his cooking. He used to cook lunches for the crew, beautiful Indian curries and all that. He certainly knew tremendous courage, and people over the years talked very fondly of him. This film without him is different, yet it’s quite the same. I think people have missed him, but James hasn’t changed. He was still James Ivory, very quiet, very easygoing.
Was James’s directing process different without Ismail on the set?
No, it was just the same. When we were making Howards End and Remains of the Day, if it was raining, Ismail would say, “Oh, my God, it's raining! What are we going to do?” and James would say, “Just let it rain.” They were two complementary personalities, but they got along well together. I didn’t know much about their private lives, though.
I liked that Adam's being gay is just incidental. It doesn’t define him and there’s no artifice to your characterization.
I basically played him as the script described him. I thought the book was remarkable. I very much like those books that are like F. Scott Fitzgerald that talk about how life passes by and how people drift in and out of people’s lives, like in The Great Gatsby. What I like about this theme was this exiled family living this life and that Adam groomed this man who over the years has become kind of cynical, debonair roué who likes his wine and doesn’t take, on the surface, life so seriously.
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