Anthony Hopkins Cuts a Towering Figure as 'Hitchcock'

posted on Wed, 30 Jan 2013 12:00 AM

To play perhaps the most instantly recognizable filmmaker of all time, the team behind Fox Searchlight's shocking drama “Hitchcock” thought there was no one better for the job than Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins.

Hopkins is perhaps best known for his own unforgettably dark turn as a manipulative psychopath, Hannibal Lecter, who helped in the capture of a sophisticated, modern-day relation to Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill, in “The Silence of the Lambs.” But his prolific roster of roles -- from “The Elephant Man” and “Remains of the Day” to “Nixon” and “Shadowlands” -- reveals a broad versatility to embody the most complex personalities.

“I've always been fascinated by Hitchcock,” said Hopkins. “My first professional job was in the theatre in 1960 in Manchester and I remember going to the movies and `Psycho' was playing in Manchester. I went to see the movie on a Sunday night in October 1960 and I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life. It was maybe the greatest movie I've seen up to that point in my life. `Rear Window' and `Psycho' are my two favorite movies.”

“Hitchcock” is the true-story behind the difficult production of the famed director's classic thriller “Psycho”, which brings insight to Hitchcock's fascination with the real-life serial killer who served as the inspiration for Norman Bates.

Director Sacha Gervasi notes that he wasn’t looking at all for some kind of uncanny physical resemblance to Hitchcock, but rather, for someone who could bring forth something more subtle and vital: the humanity running beneath his well-known genius, quirks and cutting humor.

“We didn’t want someone to just impersonate Hitchcock, that was important from the beginning,” Gervasi explains. “It was really about revealing the spirit of the man and Anthony Hopkins is a master of doing that with iconic characters, from Richard Nixon to Pablo Picasso to CS Lewis. When you see him as Hitchcock, it takes a moment to adjust to it, but his power as an actor is so deep that, within a few sentences, you become completely embedded in Tony Hopkins’ version of Hitchcock. There are very few actors in the world capable of doing that. He was really the only actor who I felt could pull it off. In fact, I told the producers that if we couldn’t get him we shouldn’t bother making the movie at all.”

Hopkins agrees that his performance exists on a razor-thin line, one that had to balance the idea of illuminating Hitchcock without doubling him. “I wouldn’t say ‘I become Hitchcock’. I don’t do that, because I’d go mad,” Hopkins muses. “You can’t become anyone, but you just try to find a way to balance it so as to not make a caricature. I felt Sacha had unlocked the story that no one else had previously done.”

Hopkins says his preparation for the role goes way back to 1960 when he himself first saw “Psycho” as a young actor in England and became a Hitchcock fan for life. He continued following his films, and even met Hitchcock briefly, but it was reading the “Hitchcock” script that brought him deeper into the man. “The script gave me a lot of the information that I needed,” he notes, “and then I watched several documentaries and films on Hitchcock and began putting together all the pieces.”

Those pieces added up to a man who Hopkins says is an utter paradox. “He can be dark, troubled, cold, ruthless and obsessive and also big-hearted, warm and ingenious,” notes Hopkins. “That was all part of his nature.”

“Hitchcock” will be shown starting Feb. 6 exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide. Moviegoers can catch the film at Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, Alabang Town Center, Market! Market!, Ayala Center Cebu, Marquee (Central Luzon), Abreeza (Davao), Harbor Point (Subic) and Centrio (Cagayan de Oro).

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