One of the most celebrated living actors, Anthony Hopkins is often regarded as the greatest actor of his generation. The recipient of almost every prestigious accolade imaginable, Hopkins has contributed a lot to the world of cinema and his work continues to serve as an inspiration for many aspiring artists who grew up watching his films.
Even back in his school days, Hopkins felt that he was more suited to artistic pursuits instead of academic ones. Starting his acting career by appearing in minor theatrical productions, Hopkins was finally noticed by one Laurence Olivier who took the young actor on as his understudy and later described him as an artist with “exceptional promise”.
Throughout his career, Hopkins has collaborated with great actors and filmmakers but has often managed to exert a definitive influence on his works due to his commanding on-screen presence. Hopkins has also tried his hand at directing some of his own projects but the majority of his legacy is definitely attributed to his brilliance as an actor.
Check out a list of some of the definitive works starring the incredibly talented Anthony Hopkins.
Anthony Hopkins’ six definitive films:
The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968)
Anthony Harvey’s 1968 historical drama is often considered as Anthony Hopkins’ acting breakthrough because this was the first time he managed to get his hands on a major film role. It resulted in his career being kickstarted with everyone acknowledging that he was an actor to look out for.
Starring alongside other greats such as Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn, Hopkins managed to shine through his rendition of King Richard the Lionheart. For his wonderful performance, Hopkins managed to nab a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
A unique addition to David Lynch’s illustrious filmography, The Elephant Man revolves around the life of a 19th century Londoner named John Merrick (played by John Hurt) who had to endure a lot of difficulties due to his physical deformities.
Lynch’s brilliantly sensitive treatment of the subject matter is an artistic revelation, also featuring an equally powerful performance by Anthony Hopkins who plays the role of a doctor trying to understand the Uncanny Other. The combination of Hurt and Hopkins is nothing short of sublime.
The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)
Arguably the most iconic role of Hopkins’ long career which is studded with great works, his interpretation of an extremely intelligent psychopathic cannibal is so chilling that it is almost impossible to forget it once you have seen The Silence of the Lambs.
Based on Thomas Harris’ novel, the film builds its investigations on the terrifying interactions between a young FBI recruit (Jodie Foster) and Hopkins’ authoritative madman. The film ended up winning multiple coveted prizes, including a Best Actor win for Hopkins at the Oscars.
The Remains of the Day (James Ivory, 1993)
Often touted as one of the greatest British films ever made, The Remains of the Day is an adaptation of a Kazuo Ishiguro work that asks questions about human servitude, desire and the limitations of social confines which only contribute towards repression.
Hopkins is fantastic as a devoted butler to a Nazi sympathiser, constantly worrying about whether he is a good servant or not. However, he starts questioning everything when he falls in love with the housemaid (Emma Thompson). To this day, it remains one of Hopkins’ most celebrated roles.
Shadowlands (Richard Attenborough, 1993)
One of the most memorable collaborations between Richard Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins, Shadowlands stars the actor as C.S. Lewis, the famous academic who created The Chronicles of Narnia which ended up having a deep impact on the fantasy genre.
The film focuses on the psyche of Lewis, tracing the manifestations of cracks in his religious thinking due to his wife’s sickness. Attenborough claimed that Hopkins had “this extraordinary ability to make you believe when you hear him that it is the very first time he has ever said that line. It’s an incredible gift.”
The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020)
Many critics insisted that The Father was the best film of 2020 and most of those claims can be attributed to Hopkins’ powerhouse of a performance which proved that the veteran actor still has what it takes to be counted among the very best working today.
Hopkins is downright brilliant in his portrayal of an old man who tries to convince his daughter that he can take care of himself despite his rapidly worsening dementia which leaves him in a difficult place. Hopkins’ nuanced understanding of the condition transformed the entire film into a powerful experience.