Having just turned 77, Anthony Hopkins would be forgiven for taking things a tad slower at this stage of his career, especially given that he’s been acting for 55 years now. But the Oscar-winning actor is entering arguably his busiest year ever with four films out as well as a TV movie and a key role in HBO’s new Westworld series.
His first appearance of 2015 is in the true crime drama Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, released this week, where he plays a lager tycoon kidnapped by a group of childhood friends. It’s not his finest work but what is? Here’s our pick of the five definitive Hopkins performances.
Villainy has played an important part throughout his career and while he might have received the most attention for playing a cultured cannibal, his work in Richard Attenborough’s 1978 thriller is just as creepy. He plays a ventriloquist who finds himself at the mercy of his dummy and this scene shows his skill at managing both sides of a very precarious balancing act.
The Silence of the Lambs
His most famous role yet also one of his smallest (his screen time barely covers 16 minutes), Hopkins’ take on Hannibal Lecter is still nightmarishly good. In this much-parodied scene, he displays why a best actor Oscar was pretty much in the bag despite the film’s early in the year release date. The power might have diminished by the third time he brought the character back but his ferocity here is undeniable.
The Remains of the Day
Aside from mastering the art of playing a psychopath, Hopkins was also a dab hand at playing awfully polite yet awfully repressed English gents, as shown in his Oscar-nominated work in this Merchant Ivory drama. In this scene, we see his steely facade falter slightly as he says goodbye to Emma Thompson’s character.
Hopkins worked with Richard Attenborough again for this biographical romance between CS Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman. Again, his reserved demeanour is challenged by a feisty love interest, this time played by Debra Winger. This scene shows him struggling to deal with her impending death and breaking down while imagining a life without her.
The Welsh actor was an unconventional choice to play Californian Richard Nixon and this was a feeling shared by the studio who wanted either Tom Hanks or Jack Nicholson in the role. Yet Oliver Stone insisted and the gamble paid off, bringing the actor another Oscar nomination. This clip shows Nixon falling apart and Hopkins managing to nail the breakdown without resorting to theatrics.