Fame fazes film royalty
E has played US President Richard Nixon, Hannibal Lecter and vampire slayer Van Helsing – but Sir Anthony Hopkins says he still found the role of Alfred Hitchcock ‘‘daunting’’.
The 74-year-old Academy Awardwinner stars opposite Dame Helen Mirren in the new film, Hitchcock, which tells the story of the master of suspense’s relationship with wife Alma Reville during the making of his 1960 hit slasher film, Psycho.
Hopkins admits he was ‘‘obviously a little nervous’’ about the role.
‘‘I didn’t want to hear my voice back or see any of it. I wouldn’t see any playback because I didn’t want to shock myself,’’ he says.
‘‘I saw the film when it was finally cut together and I was very pleased with it. It was a tough role to play, just tricky because everyone knows him and he has been such a formidable presence in our living rooms through the years and probably the most famous director of all time – so it was daunting.’’
Hopkins, who used a prosthetic ‘‘fat suit’’ to get into the director’s skin, defends Hitchcock against critics who say he had a dark side.
‘‘I don’t think he was a monster – he was very witty. He didn’t tolerate small talk,’’ the Welsh actor says.
‘‘He was a very practical man and he didn’t have any time for nonsense.’’
Mirren describes her character, Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville, as the director’s ‘‘artistic and domestic rock’’.
‘‘People say there were four hands on Hitchcock’s movies and two of them were Alma’s,’’ she says.
Mirren, 67, says she enjoyed a ‘‘pretty good year’’ in 2012 after working with Sir Anthony in Hitchcock and with Al Pacino on an upcoming biopic about legendary music producer Phil Spector. Surprisingly, Hitchcock marked her first collaboration with Hopkins.
‘‘I was nervous, as you can imagine, ‘‘ she says.
‘‘He is such a hugely iconic actor and so brilliant. But, on the other hand, we both come out of theatre so we had that understanding between us and it turned out to be a really wonderful experience.’’
First-time director Sacha Gervasi says he also had to overcome nerves about working with two of British cinema’s most respected actors.
‘‘I remember in the first day of rehearsals I was sitting there, watching them read the scenes, and I thought ‘My God, this is extraordinary’,’’ he says.
‘‘It was a fantastic experience.’’ Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville.
Sir Anthony Hopkins as the famous Alfred Hitchcock.