With acclaimed roles stretching back to the sixties, Anthony Hopkins has earned recognition over the decades as one of the world’s finest actors and his recent Best Actor win at the Academy Awards adds a fine cap to a glittering career. Over the years the revered thespian has had the chance to flex his acting chops in everything from Shakespeare adaptations (King Lear) to period dramas (The Remains of the Day, Howard’s End) to blockbuster action (The Mask of Zorro, Thor)… while also getting to express a more sinister side, not least in one of his best known roles, that of sophisticated serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Hopkins turns to the dark side once again for his latest role in hitman thriller The Virtuoso. In the film he plays the shadowy mentor and boss of an enigmatic professional killer (Anson Mount, Star Trek: Discovery). With Hopkin’s mysterious character providing only a time, a location, and a cryptic clue, the methodical hitman must descend upon a sleepy country town and identify and eliminate a mysterious foe from among several possible targets…
With The Virtuoso available now on Digital Download and arriving on DVD 10 May, we’ve taken a look back at some of Oscar winning actor’s deadliest and most sinister screen roles.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Anthony Hopkins recently picked up an Academy Award for his role in The Father but he is no stranger to the Oscar statuette, having previously received the trophy for his performance as Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Adapted from Thomas Harris’ acclaimed novel of 1988, The Silence of the Lambs stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, an FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. With traditional lines of inquiry leading nowhere, Starling pays a visit to the incarcerated cannibalistic killer and former psychiatric doctor Hannibal Lecter in the hope of gaining psychological insight into Buffalo Bill’s crimes. Striking up an unlikely relationship of quid pro quo, Starling slowly learns details from Lecter that help solve the brutal crimes but the highly intellectual Lecter manipulates the situation and escapes. Giving one of the most frightening performances of all time, Hopkins’ cold, calculating cannibal is oddly likeable, totally terrifying and eminently quotable. So grab some fava beans and a nice chianti, and witness the creation of one of cinema’s truly iconic villains.
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Sink your teeth into Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the ravishing gothic horror from director Francis Ford Coppola, in which Anthony Hopkins plays legendary Dutch vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing. Although Liam Neeson had originally been considered for the part, following the success of The Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins was quickly scooped up for the pivotal role as the prince of darkness’ adversary. Starring alongside Gary Oldman (Dracula), Keanu Reeves (Jonathan Harker), Winona Ryder (Mina Harker), Richard E. Grant (Dr Seward) and Tom Waits (Renfield), Hopkins fills out a star-studded cast. From putting wooden stakes through Dracula’s brides to the final battle with the count in his Transylvanian castle, Hopkins brings deadly dedication to his performance. Although Coppola’s film opted for the title Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the film is notably one of the least faithful adaptations of Stoker’s iconic novel but with its gorgeous expressionistic visuals and powerful performances from Hopkins and Oldman the film is nonetheless a gothic masterpiece with one of film history’s finest portrayals of Van Helsing. We bid you welcome…
THE WOLFMAN (2010)
Anthony Hopkins returned for another classic story of gothic horror in The Wolfman, a remake of the timeless Universal movie from 1941. As the story goes in the original, Lawrence Talbot (played by Lon Chaney Jr.) is bitten by a wolf and cursed with lycanthropy leading him to ultimately be killed by his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains). In the remake, the role of Lawrence Talbot fell to Benecio del Toro with Hopkins playing his father Sir John, who (in a departure from the original) possesses the same affliction as his son. But while the son fights the beast inside him, the father embraces it and the film ends in a violent show-down between the two wolfmen, which leaves their family home in ruin, and makes this new take on the beloved classic a particularly sinister role for Hopkins as the hairy alpha-villain. With Hopkins on wicked form and upping the ante in terms of gore and action, The Wolfman is a horror remake that will have you howling at the moon.
THE RITE (2011)
Hopkins once again must battle the forces of evil in 2011 chiller The Rite, and this time the monsters portrayed are not conjured from a classic work of fiction but are based on allegedly real events. The film finds a young man, Michael, approaching the end of his training at a seminary, questioning the call to take his vows and become a priest. With his superior sensing a greater calling for the sceptical Michael, the student is sent to the Vatican in Rome to attend an exorcism course in order for him to return and battle with the increasing number of demonic possessions arising each year. There he meets Anthony Hopkins’ Father Lucas, an experienced exorcist dealing with the troubling case of a young woman inhabited by a demon, and the terrifying effects on the priest after she dies… The supernatural horror film is based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, which charts the journey of Father Gary Thomas, a California priest who was sent to apprentice under a Rome based exorcist. The author himself witnessed over 20 exorcisms performed by Father Gary, and both men’s faith was strengthened by their experiences.
Based on Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi Western, ‘Westworld’ is a lavish TV adaptation which retains the core idea: a theme park which brings the Old West to life by using incredibly lifelike android ‘hosts’ to entertain and interact with the high-paying visitors. In the first two series, Hopkins plays Dr. Robert Ford, the co-founder and Park Director of Westworld, who developed the technology for the android ‘hosts’ so that they can fulfil guests’ every desire, but are unable to harm them. When Dr. Ford introduces a new update to the hosts programme some of them begin to gain sentience, including rancher’s daughter Dolores Abernathy. On the discovery that her existence is a lie, and that she’s forced to play out the same fictitious story loop each day and have her mind reset every night, Dolores begins to violently free herself from her assigned role. The robot uprising has begun… Westworld features an outstanding cast including Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright with Anthony Hopkins excelling as the sinister overseer of the park. Viva la revolution!
The Virtuoso is on Digital Download now and DVD 10 May from Lionsgate UK