Anthony Hopkins on Staying in Character Throughout a Film’s Production: “If actors want to do that, fine. If they want to be miserable, that’s up to them”
In a candid interview with the Huffington Post, Anthony Hopkins not only said he thought Oscar campaigning was “nauseating to watch,” he also was open about portraying such a famous cinema figure as Alfred Hitchcock in a movie and his thoughts on actors who choose to stay in character throughout a film’s production. He also touches on whether or not he will ever retire from acting and surprisingly admits that he actually did once — it just didn’t stick!
There are perhaps no film directors who have reached the popular stature of Hitchcock, and obviously Hopkins felt unsure about his performance compared to the man himself. He explains, “I had apprehension all the way through the movie. I had done all my preparation, but being a perfectionist I wanted to make sure it was absolutely right. But Sacha [Gervasi, director] said, ‘You’re not Alfred Hitchcock, you’re Anthony Hopkins playing him.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ But I wouldn’t even look at the monitor screens [during production]. I didn’t want to see myself or hear myself. I had done enough preparation to do the part.”
Hopkins points at the makeup as a major help into getting into character. He says, “I think getting the makeup right was the first one. It wasn’t difficult in itself, but we did about four or five camera tests to modify to make sure there wasn’t too much makeup. Getting the voice right, too. I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television.”
However, Hopkins doesn’t believe that getting deeply into one’s character means staying in character even when one isn’t filming. He says, “There’s no such thing. Well, you can do it if you want, but I don’t go along with being called ‘Mr. Hitchcock.’ I think that’s a lot of crap. I just don’t understand that. If actors want to do that, fine. If they want to be miserable, that’s up to them. I’m not interested. It’s a job. I do the job. I’m certainly not going to make my life miserable just to be a character.” In fact, Hopkins believes it could be detrimental to a film’s production, adding, “Who the hell wants to be with some miserable grump because he wants to get his performance right, so you have to call him this or call him that? It’s so boring. I’ve been with actors like that and they’re a pain in the ass, they really are. They’re unpleasant to work with and I don’t think they’re always that good either. I’ve worked with some awkward customers, fortunately not too many. I go out of my way never to work with them again.”
Hopkins continues to act in high-profile films, and reveals that he has absolutely no plans to ever retire… especially since he already tried to a few years ago! He confesses, “I don’t ever want to retire. I did a few years ago. I didn’t actually plan it, but I thought, ‘Maybe I should just slow down and call it a day.’… When men retire — particularly men — if they get out too early, they usually die of stress or loneliness or they drink too much or their hearts give out. I think a certain amount of stress in life is good. The stress of just working, which takes effort — I think it keeps you going.”