Anthony Hopkins on Learning Lines and How to Create a Scary Character

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“I learn the text so deeply that I think it has some chemical effect in my brain.” – Anthony Hopkins

Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins has had dozens of acclaimed performances in his seven-decade acting career and, as a student of Laurence Olivier, is a classically-trained actor. Nonetheless, based on his intense performances in films like The Silence of the Lambs, some have thought of Hopkins as a method actor. In an expensive interview with Augustman, Hopkins speaks about how he learns his lines — and why he finds it easy to create a scary performance.

While Hopkins doesn’t identify himself as a method actor, he does think his approach of deep-learning his lines has an affect on his mental performance. He says, “Well, I learn the text so deeply that I think it has some chemical effect in my brain. I’ve been playing some pretty tough guys, like King Lear, or this guy with dementia in The Father. It’s exhausting, but I’m not a method actor in that sense. I believe in learning the text which is there. Once you know it so well that you can improvise and make it real, it’s easy. You can’t pretend to know it – it’s impossible to, and I couldn’t do it. I’ve worked with actors who don’t know their stuff, and they were just wasting everyone’s time.”

With that said, Hopkins does think of himself as an actor who can easily be scary on screen. He explains, “Oh yes, I know I can. It’s a technique. When I read the script of The Silence of The Lambs I thought, ‘Ah, I know how to play this guy.’ You get a sense of how you could do it: the more subtle and quiet you are, the scarier it is.”

More: How to Memorize Lines: 8 Fast Methods and Tips

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