Is Anthony Hopkins’ Emmy-worthy ‘Westworld’ role even more menacing than Hannibal Lecter?

Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for playing serial killer Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs” (1991), and now he’s found another delicious role to sink his teeth into in the form of Dr. Robert Ford, the creator of the “Westworld” park on HBO’s sci-fi drama. The menacing character was enough to convince the film actor to try his hand at an hourly American TV series, but will it also convince Emmy voters to nominate Hopkins for Best Drama Actor?

Though widely known for his film roles, Hopkins actually has two previous Emmy wins out of four nominations. His first victory came in 1976 in Best Movie/Mini Actor for “The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case.” He claimed a second trophy in 1981 for his portrayal of Adolf Hitler in “The Bunker.” Two additional nominations came for his performances in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1982) and “Great Expectations” (1990). If this veteran performer can pull off a nomination for “Westworld,” it will be a whopping 27 years since his last bid.

TV critics have made a great case for Hopkins returning to the Emmy race, with Ben Travers (Indiewire) declaring, “Anthony Hopkins is perfectly cast and settles into the subdued Dr. Ford’s calculating mind with unforced presence and grace.” And Erik Adams (The A.V. Club) even conjures up comparisons between Robert Ford and Hannibal Lecter. “Ford is a role that fits Hopkins’ simmering malevolence like the good doctor’s bespoke western wear,” Adams writes. “Making poetic pronouncements and laying out tragic backstories is what mad scientists do, after all, and the cracks Hopkins gives to Ford’s carefully maintained facade contain the occasional whiff of Hannibal Lecter.”

One particular scene that left viewers reeling was the face-off between Ford and Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) in the fourth episode, “Dissonance Theory.” Cullen believes she’s having a lunch meeting to reign in Ford’s expensive new park narrative, but soon discovers she is in the midst of an elaborately staged threat from Ford. Hopkins imbues a sinister calmness to the scene as Ford plays with his victim. Calling Hopkins “one of the actors who consistently makes the show truly compelling every single week,” Ethan Anderton (Slashfilm) highlights a stellar video by Nerdwriter which breaks down the actor’s layered performance in this scene. The video has been viewed over 1.5 million times, clearly showing a wide appreciation for the quality of Hopkins’ work. If episodes still matter at all in Emmy voting, this masterclass in acting should clinch a nom for Hopkins.

Some pundits have bet against the thespian due to the ensemble nature of “Westworld,” and question whether his role gets enough screen time to make a dent in the Best Drama Actor category. For example, HBO’s other mega ensemble “Game of Thrones” submitted Sean Bean for lead in that series’ first season. Bean was shut out in favor of men who don’t share the screen with dozens of co-stars, and “Game of Thrones” has since positioned all its actors for Emmy consideration in the supporting categories.

But of course, limited screen time is something Hopkins is all too familiar with. He appeared on screen as Hannibal Lecter for a combined total of 16 minutes in “The Silence of the Lambs,” yet still claimed the Academy Award for Best Actor. Clearly lack of screen time is no reason to bet against this talented industry veteran, especially when you consider the impact of his performances.

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