#RespectYourElders: Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE, 81, is a Welsh actor, director, producer and philanthropist. He’s well-versed in TV and film and has won both Academy and Emmy Awards during his career.
Hopkins was born in Port Talbot, Wales in 1937 to parents of Welsh and English descent. He enjoyed drawing and playing the piano as a young kid, but didn’t excel in school. Seeking a less traditional path, Hopkins decided he wanted to be famous after getting Welsh actor Richard Burton’s autograph at 15. His piano skills led to a scholarship from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Upon graduating, Hopkins served two years in the British Army. He then set his sights on pursuing his acting career.
Hopkins moved to London and began studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He met the legendary actor Laurence Olivier, who’s known for his Shakespearean roles on stage and screen. In 1965, Olivier invited his budding protégé to join the Royal National Theatre as an understudy. Soon after, Hopkins stood in for his mentor, who had become ill from appendicitis, in a play named “Dance of Death.” Hopkins floored audiences during the production and his career took off.
The Welsh actor starred in well-received movie and TV roles throughout the ’70s and ’80s including “A Bridge Too Far” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” However, his biggest claim to fame likely came in 1991 for his portrayal of fictional villain Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs,” with Jodie Foster. The psychological thriller won an Academy Award in all of the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hopkins’ haunting depiction of a manipulative cannibal killer is an example of why he’s such an impressive actor.
Hopkins is known for his unique style of preparation for roles, such as often repeating lines more than 200 times in order to deliver stellar performances. Hopkins has also said that once he says a line, he forgets it forever. These acting habits reveal an actor unconcerned with what others think of him.
“If you do things, whether it’s acting or music or painting, do it without fear – that’s my philosophy,” Hopkins said. “Because nobody can arrest you and put you in jail if you paint badly, so there’s nothing to lose.”
Hopkins’ recently released movie, “The Two Popes,” can now be streamed on Netflix. The biographical drama film tells the story of the relationship between Pope Benedict XVI, played by Hopkins and his successor Pope Francis, played by Jonathan Pryce.