: last long. ‘I planned not to make a
ACTOR - '
‘I don‘t want to talk about it. just to get on and do it‘. declares Anthony Hopkins. It‘s adifficult premise from which to begin an interview.
The actor is direct to the point of brusqueness. Unlike the rest ofhis profession. he prefers neither to expound on himselfnor his roles. Of his latest. Bill Hooper. the ‘good father‘ ofthe film ofthat name. he says simply ‘lt was pretty easy to play I and an interesting film . . .just another part.‘ Later he will admit. ‘The script seemed very close to me in some ways. as it is about a man of my own age who has gone through a divorce.‘ But the revelations do not
big deal about it. You just show up on the day and hope the camera is pointing the right way.‘
It seems to work. It is hard to think of any part for which Hopkins has not been acclaimed. be it the tyrannical South African newspaper
tycoon in Pravda at the National. or Strickland in TV‘s A Married Man.
Indeed his performance as Pravda‘s Lambert Le Roux. for which he
. managed to strut the stage with his 5 body thrusting forward at a 45°
angle. won him an ‘Olivier‘ award at
the end of 1985. and secured his
future at the National Theatre once and for all. ‘On my first night of Pravda I was asked to play Lear by the director. David Hare. then they asked me to do Anthony and
about true life observations and characterisations that illustrate them.‘ At the time ofthis tranformation some critics accused him of not knowing where he was going and relying too heavily on the influence of the new ‘alternative‘ comedians. ‘I sort of ﬂirted with that kind ofcomedy for a while.‘ he says now. ‘but I thought that‘s just copying— I‘ll try and do my own stuff.‘ He appreciates that he wasn‘t perhaps successful right from the start. ‘lt‘s taken four or five years but if I hadn‘t changed I‘d be a pretty sorry-looking dude by now.‘
His most recent television work. Lenny Henry Tonight came in for some mixed criticism. which is more
or less what he expected. saying— ‘if you do extreme change you‘re going to get extreme reaction.‘ What many critics failed to appreciate was the progress Henry was making in television comedy. Creating six separate ‘one-off‘ sit-coms each with different stories and characters was an ambitious experiment and it is to Henry‘s credit that it was as successful as it has been. ‘I enjoyed them; some of them were better than others. but overall it was a quality series and I‘m doing six more next yearf
Next year. in fact. looks like being
that one. but I said ‘OK’.’
The two leading roles will take place hot on the heels ofeach other— ; Lear in December. and Mark Anthony. under Peter Hall‘s direction. next April — but the indomitable performer refuses to get worried about the prospect. ‘I‘d like to have some fun doing them.‘ Of King Lear he adds: ‘You try to make it as easy as you can for yourself. People get scared ofthese things. . . I try not to consider it of any great importance.‘
The link with the giant ofLondon‘s South Bank is a long one. Hopkins. now 48. auditioned there in 1965 with a speech from Othello. unperturbed by the fact that Olivier was currently playing the Moor himself. Olivier took him under his wing. and the young Welsh actor managed to survive such incidents as coming on as a messenger in Othello and speaking lago‘s line by mistake. As in all such fairytales. Hopkins made his mark one night when Oliver was unable to play his part in Strindberg‘s The Dance of Death. It was a short step to parts in The Three Sisters. A Flea in Her Ear. and his film debut in The Lion in Winter with Katharine Hepburn and O‘Toole.
Now. 21 years since his first audition. Hopkins is being acclaimed as the new Olivier— a title he dismisses with an abrupt laught: ‘Good Lord no. I‘m terribly flattered. but he‘s in a class ofhis own. I don‘t see it that way at all. I‘m slightly embarrassed.‘
If Hopkins seems resolutely un-starstruck. it’s worth remembering that his early ‘success‘. coincided with the break-up of his
a busy one for Mr Henry. Apart from becoming more involved in acting he is also keen to develop an alternative career as a singer. In the new year BBC2 is screening Coast to Coast which he describes as a ‘comedy thriller‘ in which he appears with American actor John Shea. perhaps best known to the British public for his part as Bobby Kennedy in the acclaimed Kennedy series. The film. with an authentic Motown soundtrack concerns the pair of them running a mobile disco from a converted ice cream van. In January he is shooting a film in New York before going to Mexico with the Comic Strip team and he has been approached to appear in Julien Temple‘s new film. which he would like to do but is as yet ‘not sure‘ if this will come off. His prospective singing career proved difficult to embark on as record companies refused to take him seriously at first. ‘It was really difficult because I didn‘t have anything to play them when I went in. I said. let me make some songs and I‘ll make you a good album. . . let me prove I‘m good.‘ He went away to work with the guitarist from the Gap Band and backing musicians from Tears For
a Fears amongst others. on what he
i calls ‘contemporary dance music‘ the l
Cleopatra; I hadn‘t even considered first marriage, and a growing
dependency on drink which was to give him a reputation for having rows wrth directors and even for walking out of his own dinner parties. ; Hopkins took himselfto California ‘ for ten years. finding not only a new ; serenity. but parts such as the surgeon in The Elephant Man. Captain Bligh in The Bounty. and a steamy cameo in the TV mini-series. Hollywood Wives. ‘I did that for fun. There‘s a time and a place for everything. and at the time it seemed right.‘ he says. adding that he was then embarking on the expensive process ofselling up his home there for the return to England. ‘I thought maybe it was time to come back. but I didn‘t know what I was going to do until the National started offering.‘ The past two years have been crowded with projects from different directions. among them. the bookseller in Mel Brooks‘ and Anne Bancroft‘s 84 Charing Cross Road. and Guy Burgess in Blunt. a BBC film profiling Anthony Blunt and his role in the defection of Burgess and Maclean. But complacency is not in his Welsh nature. If California‘s taught him anything. it is not so much optimism. as equanimity. a ‘philosophy of non-expectancy‘. which has him ‘thanking his lucky stars‘ to be enjoying himself now. and keen to reiterate that ‘Finally. none of it is ofthat great importance.‘ The Good Father receives charity premieres in aid of Gingerbread at the Glasgow Film Theatre on 2 November at 8pm and at the Cameo in Edinburgh on 6 November at 7pm. Thefilm willplay at the GFTfrom 3—8 November and is provisionally set to open at the Cameo on 2] Nov
demo of which was recently delivered to a leased record company.
A ong with others. Henry was recently involved in the Comic Relief fund-raising concert. together with the subsequent book and video which contains all the bits missed out from the TV version because they were ‘too RAUNCHY‘! The criticism levelled at the concert and book is something that angers him. ‘Just because it‘s for charity it doesn‘t mean we have to clean up
: our acts or anything. Some people
have said it‘s blasphemous: well I think poverty is blasphemous. I think starvation is blasphemous. I I think little kids dying is ' blasphemous. Ifwe do something I and it‘s funny and worth buying then . being able to save lives is much more important. The £3.95 the Comic Reliefbook costs will inoculate a child against six different killer diseases. To criticise that is just silly.‘ One last thing. People who should know about these things claim that he is set to become the next Eddie Murphy. His reaction to this is a loud. typically Henry belly laugh and: ‘I want to be the next me thank you very much.‘ Lenny Henry is appearing at Edinburgh '5 King '5 Theatre on Sunday 9 November and Glasgow 's Pavilion Theatre on Monday 10 Nov
The List 31 oci — 13 Nov