Sir Anthony Hopkins received his fifth Academy Award nomination (for “The Two Popes”) earlier this week. With his impressive body of work, it’s somewhat stunning to realize he was 54 years old before he became a household name.
Hopkins was born on New Year’s Eve in 1937 to working-class parents in Wales, and was inspired by fellow Welsh actor Richard Burton to study drama. He found success in theater, eventually becoming an understudy for Laurence Olivier, successfully taking over when Olivier became ill. Although his career was thriving in the theater, Hopkins decided to try his luck in television and films, and soon received his break in 1968 playing Richard the Lionheart in “The Lion in Winter.” Hopkins worked steadily on both the small and big screens, often receiving praise for his work. However, it was over 20 years before he became one of the most recognized actors in the world for a film in which he only had a small role.
In 1991, Hopkins received much acclaim for his portrayal of a cannibalistic serial killer in “The Silence of the Lambs,” becoming one of the most famous and intriguing villains in all of cinema history. With only 16 minutes on-screen, Hopkins took advantage every minute of that time to leave one of the biggest impressions ever captured on film. That performance led to the first of five Oscar nominations (and his only win). It also led to a stream of highly successful films, with Hopkins becoming a favorite of critics as well as audiences.
In addition to his impressive film work, Hopkins continues to enjoy success on television, and has received five Primetime Emmy nominations, most recently for “Westworld” in 2017. He boasts two wins, for “The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” in 1976 and “The Bunker” in 1981.
Besides the Oscar and Emmy nominations, Hopkins is the recipient of dozens of awards nominations for his work both in film and on television. He’s garnered five Golden Globe nominations for work in film and one for work in television. Although he lacks any wins, he was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2006. He’s a favorite at the BAFTA ceremonies as well, earning six noms for his film work, winning for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and “The Remains of the Day” (1993), and two bids for his television work, winning for “War and Peace” in 1972.
Hopkins is known for his habit of thoroughly memorizing his lines, allowing him to deliver even long, complicated dialogue seemingly effortlessly. His understated acting style makes him the perfect choice for a variety of characters, from repressed butlers to sadistic villains to compassionate moral men to disgraced leaders. Whether he’s delivering Shakespearean lines, perfectly reciting a long-winded court speech or describing eating census takers and creepily sucking on his lips, Hopkins has a colorful and varied catalog of films that will be enjoyed by audiences for generations to come.