Anthony Hopkins interview
Anthony Hopkins new film, The World's Fastest Indian, is based on the true story of New Zealander Burt Monro, a man who travels all the way to Salt Lake City, USA to race his hand-built bike on the salt planes. Anthony Hopkins gave us the low-down on making the film and the appeal of playing Burt.
The World's Fastest Indian is released nationwide on the 10th March
LOVEFiLM: You described this film as the best experience you have ever had?
Anthony Hopkins: Yeah it was one of the most wonderful, most enjoyable movies I have made. I enjoyed it because it was such an outdoor, open air movie and he is a character with a sunny disposition and I liked his philosophy of life. It was fun being on a motorbike.
LF: Had you had your own motorbikes?
AH: No I never had one but I rode one when I was in the Army years ago when I did National Service. So when I got on to this one I had to do a little bit of riding....did the basics like how to get on it and how to start it. It was a very uncomfortable bike to ride. It was a really tough one. I wore some padding underneath my stomach because I was lying flat on it. But Burt Munro didn't have anything like that. He rode it with no protection at all and that must have been tough.
LF: Burt is a bit of an unknown hero isn't he?
AH: Yeah no-one knew much about him except in Invercargill and then Roger Donaldson, the director, got to know him years ago because Roger is a motorbike fiend and a car fanatic. He got to know him and did a documentary film on him back in 1970 and then he made this movie. It is kind of an unlikely feature film to make but Roger put it together. That's what his dream was and it has taken off. In New Zealand it is the biggest hit that they have ever had, apparently.
LF: Apart from watching the documentary film was there any other research that you felt was necessary?
AH: No that was it. I'm not good at research. But I went with Roger Donaldson to the Los Angeles Motor Museum and we saw lots of cars and a replica of Burt's bike there and some of the great record breaking bikes and some of the old record breaking cars. It is a very interesting museum. Bonnie And Clyde's car is there as well.
LF: As an actor who has made almost 100 films are you scared on the first day on set?
AH: No, never. There is nothing to be scared of in movies. It's a bit scarier going on stage. But I had a great time when I did Pravda on stage. The only thing was that David Hare and I thought we might be lynched because he was such an outrageous character. But I was not scared, I just went on like a Centurion tank, punching through any doubts I might have had about things.
LF: You have a lot of new movies on the way, one of the most exciting being All The King's Men where you're working alongside Sean Penn?
AH: Yeah, I have not seen that yet. Then I did Beowulf with Ray Winstone, what a great guy he is. And I finished the movie about Bobby Kennedy about 10 days ago. I am John Casey in that, a real character. He was the doorman at the Ambassador. He retired quite wealthy because of the tips he got from people. Apparently he was also a very good chess player but I am terrible at the game. My chess partner in the film is Harry Belafonte.
LF: Has there been a film in your career that you think has changed your life?
AH: I hate the word career but I suppose a career changing film was The Silence Of The Lambs. When The Silence Of The Lambs came along it put me in a new category I guess. From then on I have enjoyed more doing what I do.
I loved The Remains Of The Day, Shadowlands and Nixon. They were all my favourites...and The Bounty was one. You know that David Lean was originally going to direct that film? Years ago - I think it was 1977 - I was living out in California when I got a call, from Katharine Hepburn of all people, because I had worked with her on The Lion In Winter, and she asked if David Lean could have my number. I said sure he can!
Anyway, Lean phone me. He was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel and I went over to meet him and he said that he wanted me to play Bligh. So we had dinner and it was all going ahead. At that time the script was going to be four or five hours long and was going to be divided into two films. But I don't think that that would have stood up, I think it would have been too big. Then that film vanished, but later I was called up about The Bounty again and Dino De Laurentiis was going to produce it any way for David Lean but they were supposed to have had a quarrel - I don't know what the truth is, it was all so long ago! [Laughs]