Anthony Hopkins on Why He Became an Actor: ‘I Was Tired of Being Called Stupid’

Anthony Hopkins is the actor known for roles ranging from The Mask of Zorro to The Silence of the Lambs. While Hopkins has left a long legacy in Hollywood, the Oscar-awarded actor had a rough start. He explained in one interview that his acting career developed in large part to prove others wrong.

Anthony Hopkins says his acting career ‘took off’ after a change in attitude

Actor Anthony Hopkins in 1970 | Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Images

AARP interviewed Hopkins in 2019 about his long and storied career.

“My wife, Stella, is doing a documentary on me, and one of my teachers told her I was a mystery,” Hopkins told the magazine. The actor explained why his teacher saw him this way.

“I didn’t speak to other kids,” he said. “I didn’t play sports; I didn’t even go to the school plays.”

However, Hopkins didn’t let that reputation define him, and actively fought against it for several years.

“I was tired of being called stupid,” the actor shared. “I thought, ‘One day I’ll show you all.’ And I became this other person. My career took off.”

At age 82, Anthony Hopkins’ movies span decades

According to IMDb, Hopkins was born in Wales in 1937. After studying acting in London, the performer eventually made his way on-screen. One of his first major movie appearances was in 1977’s A Bridge Too Far. Further movie success soon followed Hopkins.

“In 1980, he worked on The Elephant Man (1980),” the website bio continued. “Two good television literature adaptations followed: Othello (1981) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982).”

Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins at The Two Popes premiere during AFI FEST 2019 | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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Hopkins was even knighted in 1993. IMDb also summed up the actor’s career in the 1990s:

Hopkins acted in movies like Desperate Hours (1990) and Howards End (1992), The Remains of the Day (1993) (nominee for the Oscar), Legends of the Fall (1994), Nixon (1995) (nominee for the Oscar), Surviving Picasso (1996), Amistad (1997) (nominee for the Oscar), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Meet Joe Black (1998) and Instinct.

However, Hopkins is most recognized for his role in The Silence of the Lambs, released in 1991. Hopkins won an Oscar for his acting in the film.

‘The Silence of the Lambs’ cast member says his character never escaped him

“I have an instinct for those kinds of people,” Hopkins told AARP about his character in The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Dr. Lecter is the malevolent, all-knowing antagonist to Jodie Foster’s protagonist, Clarice Starling.

“They’re narcissists,” the Oscar-winning actor continued. “I don’t know if that’s in me — I just understand them.” Hopkins also revealed that he knew at the time of the movie’s release that the character of Hannibal Lecter would haunt him. The actor said:

… I’ll never escape from that guy. When I started reading The Silence of the Lambs script, I told my agent, ‘This is the part of a lifetime.’ It changed everything for me.

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