Sunday, September 16, 2018

1979 NY Times article on Anthony Hopkins

In looking up something this morning I ran across the September 9, 1979 New York Times article Anthony Hopkins: ‘Acting Is Like Being in a Public Confessional’, which had been behind a paywall when I was watching and researching the actor starring in Jean-Paul Sartre's play Kean. I had posted a 'bleg' for a copy of Hopkins performance, which I still have yet to see, but if you're interested in the actor or the role I recommend checking out the article while it's available.

I'll include two quotes from the article below. First:
‘It's a comic way of making a living, saying lines, but I can express something through acting. I can express myself through parts. I'm not good at expressing myself otherwise.’ Mr. Hopkins prepared for “Kean”—a demanding role of long, impassioned speeches, mercurial changes of mood, drawing‐room repartee—as he always does, by learning his lines, “Laurence Olivier has said, ‘Learn as much as you can, then throw the text away,’ ” Mr. Hopkins said. “And it was something Noel Coward used to require. I like to learn lines. I feel secure. I learn the whole part parrot fashion, by rote even for television and movies where the filming, of course, is done in segments.
Mr. Hopkins also read a couple of biographies of Edmund Kean and discovered that Sartre's play, a slapstick farce delightfully out of keeping with the playwright's more serious image, really has little to do with fact. For. instance, In the Sartre play, Kean and the Prince of Wales are rivals for the affections of an ambassador's wife.

“Kean did not have a friendship with Wales,” said Mr. Hopkins. “And Kean had only one known affair. He was not really a womanizer. He was obsessed with acting and drinking. He wanted to be a buffoon and was uncomfortable being a celebrity. Kean was used as a prototype by Sartre: the actor trapped by the illusion of the parts he plays. The actor has to be careful not to cross the line between reality and illusion, or he will go mad.”

Does Mr. Hopkins identify with Kean? “I'm a perfectionist. I think it's a vice. I'm very demanding. Kean was also like that. I'm terribly insecure as an actor. It's fear. I've tried to modify it, but I get very wrapped up in work and then lash out because of fear. I don't trust people to do their jobs.

“When Kean did his first performance in London,” he continued, “it was after he had struggled for years in the provinces, as I did. He was offered Shylock. He waded in with an interpretation no one had ever seen. But the audiences loved what he did. He was a very modern actor, with a great eye for detail. But he was very exasperating for the people around him. He wanted to rehearse all the time, like Olivier.”
It's a lengthy article with more information on Hopkins and some of his roles.

My previous posts on Kean can be found here.

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