Noteworthy Facts About Anthony Hopkins

October 18, 2023 | Rachel Seigel

Noteworthy Facts About Anthony Hopkins

The art of acting is not to act. Once you show them more, what you show them, in fact is bad acting.- Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins is an Oscar-winning actor known for his roles in films such as The Silence of the Lambs, Remains of the Day, Legends of the Fall, and many more. Born in 1937 in Wales, he first took to the stage before pursuing a career in film. He is one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, and is still going strong.
Below are 48 Noteworthy facts about this accomplished actor.

1. That’s “Sir Anthony Hopkins”

In 1993, Anthony Hopkins was knighted by the Queen for his contributions to the arts. After the ceremony, he said that he was “overwhelmed”, and “very honored”.

anthony hopkins

2. Struggle

Anthony Hopkins preferred painting, drawing, or playing piano to schoolwork. School was difficult for him, and he was always at the bottom of his class.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

3. A Legendary Influence

When Anthony Hopkins was 15, he met the legendary actor Richard Burton. With Burton’s encouragement, he enrolled at the College of Music and Drama in Cardiff where he found his vocation.

Anthony Hopkins Facts

4. Gunner

Anthony Hopkins spent two years serving in the Royal Artillery with the British Army before moving to London and training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

5. Bond

Anthony Hopkins was tapped for villain roles in the James Bond Franchise on multiple occasions. He auditioned for the villain in the unmade 3rd Timothy Dalton film and was the first choice of villain in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, but he turned down the roles. He was also rumored for a role in Skyfall, which was eventually played by Albert Finney.

Anthony Hopkins FactsWikimedia Commons

6. Could Have Been In Batman

In 2005, Hopkins was asked to play Alfred in Batman Begins, but turned down the role.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

7. Memorization

In preparation for his role as John Quincy Adams in the movie Amistad, Anthony Hopkins shocked the cast and crew by completely memorizing a seven-page courtroom speech and nailing the taping in one shot.


Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

8. Quality Not Quantity

Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 24.52 minutes in The Silence of the Lambs, making it the second shortest performance in a movie to win an Academy Award.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

9. Can’t Plan This Stuff

Many of the touches that made the character so memorable were completely improvised by Hopkins. Mocking Jodie Foster’s southern accent, the distortion of the word “chianti”, and the slurping sounds he makes after describing eating the census-taker were not part of the script.

Anthony Hopkins FactsShutterstock

10. Don’t Blink!

Hopkins also decided not to blink while delivering his lines as Hannibal Lecter in order to make the character creepier.

Horror Movies factsThe Silence of the Lambs , Orion Pictures

11. Schooled

The University of Wales awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1988.

Anthony Hopkins FactsWikimedia Commons

12. #1 Villain

The American Film Institute ranked Hopkins’ performance in The Silence of the Lambs as #1 in its list of “100 years of the Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains”

Anthony Hopkins FactsShutterstock

13. Recite And Repeat

Anthony Hopkins is known for going over his lines more than 200 times! He isn’t satisfied until the lines sound natural, and he can “do it without thinking”.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

14. Done

When he’s done with a scene, Hopkins has stated that he discards his lines and doesn’t remember them later on. This is different than other actors who still remember their lines years later.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

15. Imitation game

Anthony Hopkins is a gifted mimic. He is skilled at turning his Welsh accent into whatever is required for a role, and successfully duplicated the voice of Laurence Olivier for additional scenes in the restoration of Spartacus.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

16. Through adversity

Few people know that Anthony Hopkins is dyslexic. The disability causes him to struggle with reading, but despite this, he’s adept at memorization which has served him well in his career.

Anthony Hopkins FactsShutterstock

17. Quitters Never Win

Immediately before being offered the now famous role in Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins was ready to give up on Hollywood and return home to London. He said his thinking was “Well that part of my life’s over; it’s a chapter closed. I suppose I’ll just have to settle for being a respectable actor poncing around the West End and doing respectable BBC work for the rest of my life".

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

18. Recovery

Just before his 38th birthday, Anthony Hopkins decided to quit drinking. He said he didn’t pick the time, but it chose him. As he describes it, “It was as if a voice said, ‘Ready! Go!’ It was that clear, the voice of gold. The best part of myself, my subconscious, came to rescue me".

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

19. The Hopkins Waltz

When he was 19, Hopkins composed a waltz titled “And the Waltz Goes On”. He stored it away in a drawer for 50 years, and was shocked to learn that his wife, a fan of Andre Rieu, had sent it to the violinist for consideration. Andre Rieu premiered the piece in Vienna in 2011, and released an album that included the waltz.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

20. Distant Star

In 1986, Hopkins tried his hand at singing, releasing a single called “Distant Star”. It reached #75 on the Billboard UK singles chart.

Anthony Hopkins FactsShutterstock

21. The Olivier Connection

Laurence Olivier spotted Anthony Hopkins when he was performing in Repertory Theatre, and invited him to join the Royal National Theatre in London.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

22. A Cat With A Mouse Between His Teeth

Hopkins became Olivier’s understudy in The Dance of End, and filled in for him when he was struck with appendicitis. Of Hopkins, Oliver said this in his memoir: "A new young actor in the company of exceptional promise named Anthony Hopkins was understudying me and walked away with the part of Edgar like a cat with a mouse between its teeth."

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

23. A Brush With God

During the filming of the movie The Edge in Alberta, Canada, he fell into a river. He didn’t realize how the water could affect his body temperature and he quickly started to suffer from hypothermia. Luckily, he was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

Anthony Hopkins FactsThe Edge, 20th Century Fox

24. Bears It All

Anthony Hopkins worked with Bart the Bear in two separate movies. The first was Legends of the Fall, and the second The Edge.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

25. Sneaky

Anthony Hopkins once gave moviegoers a shock when he snuck into a screening of Silence of the Lambs. He was hiding in the back of the theatre, but was noticed by a woman in the audience when weather caused an interruption in the film.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

26. President Hopkins (On Film)

Anthony Hopkins has the distinction of playing two different U.S. Presidents. The first was Nixon in the movie Nixon in 1995, and the second was John Quincy Adams in Amistad.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

27. The Debut Of A King

Hopkins played the future King Richard the II opposite Katherine Hepburn in the 1968 film Lion in Winter. The film was also his big-screen debut.

Anthony Hopkins FactsThe Lion in Winter, Embassy Pictures

28. Horsing around

While filming the close-ups for the jousting scenes in Lion in Winter, his horse got spooked and bolted. Hopkins fell off the horse and broke his arm, temporarily suspending filming.

Anthony Hopkins FactsThe Lion in Winter, Embassy Pictures

29. The Shy Artist

Anthony Hopkins is an accomplished painter, but refers to himself as a “shy artist”. While he’s gained wide acclaim for his acting, he calls painting and composing his first loves, and he paints daily in his Malibu studio simply for the love of it.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

30. Ouch

Anthony Hopkins made his Broadway debut as Dr. Dysart in the U.S. premiere of Equus. Hopkins was later replaced by the same man who got him into acting, Richard Burton.

Anthony Hopkins FactsEquus, United Artists

31. Anthony Hopkins Or Burt Munro?

Burt Munro’s children visited Anthony Hopkins on the set of The World’s Fastest Indian. His acting was so authentic that they were all moved to tears.

Anthony Hopkins FactsThe World

32. Escaping Hannibal

Immediately following Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins took the role of Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He took the role in order to avoid being typecast.

Anthony Hopkins FactsDracula, Columbia Pictures

33. The Role Is Taken

Liam Neeson wanted the role of Van Helsing, but due to Hopkins’ success, he was given the role instead.

Lion King factsGetty Images

34. Strong

While filming Lion in Winter, Katherine Hepburn gave Anthony Hopkins a piece of advice which he’s followed ever since. She advised him to “Read the lines. Just be. Just speak the lines” and not to overact. This is an ability he’s always admired in actors like Spencer Tracey and others of that generation.

Empire FactsThe Lion in Winter, Embassy Pictures

35. Bittersweet

The day that Anthony Hopkins won his Oscar for Silence of the Lambs was also the 11th anniversary of his father’s passing.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

36. A Practical Joker

During one of Los Angeles Charity Midnight Mission’s regular movie nights, Hopkins played a practical joke audience members enjoying the movie. He was asked by the director of the charity to tap a few people on the shoulder at the end of the movie, and to say "hello" in his Hannibal voice. The men were suitably spooked, and Hopkins reportedly got a huge kick out of the prank.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

37. The Strange Coincidence

When Anthony Hopkins signed on to star in The Girl from Petrovka, he went to London to try and purchase a copy of the book, but was unable to find one. Coincidentally, he found a seemingly discarded copy on a bench near the train station and took it. Two years later during filming, the book's author said that he didn’t have a copy of his own book as he’d lent his last one (with annotations) to a friend who’d lost it in London. When Hopkins showed him his copy, it turned out that it was in fact the author's lost copy.

Screenshot from the movie The Girl from Petrovka (1974)The Girl from Petrovka, Universal Pictures

38. The Anthony Hopkins School

A drama school in Invercargill, New Zealand is named after Anthony Hopkins. Since he was in New Zealand filming at the time, he was able to attend its opening and inspire future generations of actors.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

39. Taking Work Home

Martha Stewart began dating Anthony Hopkins in the early 90s after her marriage to Andrew Stewart ended. She broke off the relationship after seeing Silence of the Lambs, because she couldn’t separate him from his character.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images


40. Walked

In 1973, Anthony Hopkins walked out on his role as Macbeth in London’s National Theatre run having decided that he didn’t really fit into theatre life.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

41. Fan boy

Anthony Hopkins is a Breaking Bad super fan, and apparently binge-watched the entire series in a two-week marathon. He was so impressed by the series that he sent a fan e-mail to Bryan Cranston, noting: “Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen—ever".Breaking Bad factsGetty Images

42. Baked

Anthony Hopkins’ parents ran a local bakery and he would often help out in the shop when he was young. Thankfully though, he expressed no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps, and chose to go into acting instead.

Anthony Hopkins FactsFlickr

43. The Biography That Never Was

Anthony Hopkins was contracted to write his autobiography. He abandoned the project soon after starting it, returning the advance to the publisher because he found his life boring.

Actor Anthony Hopkins speaks at his hand and footprint ceremonyGetty Images

44. Hot and Cold

In 1980, Anthony Hopkins was nominated for Worst Actor in A Change of Seasons at the very first Razzie Awards.

Anthony Hopkins FactsA Change of Seasons, 20th Century Fox

45. Eat Like Picasso

One of the ways that Anthony Hopkins got into character for his role as Picasso in Surviving Picasso was to eat what Picasso ate every day. It also didn’t hurt that Hopkins was a painter in his real life.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

46. Became A U.S. Citizen

Anthony Hopkins moved to California in 1990, and became an official U.S. Citizen in 2000. He did, however also retain his UK Citizenship and his knighthood.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

47. I Would Be Too

During filming of Silence of the Lambs, Jody Foster was so scared of Anthony Hopkins that she avoided him as much as possible, and didn’t speak to him until the last day of filming. When they did finally speak, Hopkins admitted that he’d been scared of her too!

X-Files FactsThe Silence of the Lambs, Orion Pictures

48. Lifetime Achievement

Over the span of his career, Anthony Hopkins has been nominated for 57 awards with 47 wins. In 2006, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, and has been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Anthony Hopkins FactsGetty Images

Sources- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29



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