Anthony Hopkins Refused to Fake More Heart Attacks in ‘Meet Joe Black’ to Avoid a Real One

Actor Anthony Hopkins is known for giving top-notch performances. Even when he’s not the lead of a film, the star would make the most of his screen time by stealing the show.

But in his older years, Hopkins has certain limits when it comes to filming. For Meet Joe Black, Hopkins refused to do too many heart attack scenes out of concern he’d have a real one.

Anthony Hopkin felt method acting was a pain in the ass

Anthony Hopkins smirking while wearing a suit.
Anthony Hopkins | David Livingston/Getty Images

Although Hopkins has churned out plenty of highly lauded performances over the years, he didn’t want to stay in character to do so. In a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post, Hopkins shared his low opinion on constantly staying in character for the sake of performance. It’s a method of acting he believed brought actors nothing but misery on themselves.

“I just don’t understand that. If actors want to do that, fine. If they want to be miserable, that’s up to them. I’m not interested. It’s a job. I do the job. I’m certainly not going to make my life miserable just to be a character,” he said.

But it wasn’t only the method actors who risked being miserable. To the Oscar-winner, method actors also risked making the lives of others around them miserable as well.

“It’s a pain in the ass. Who the hell wants to be with some miserable grump because he wants to get his performance right, so you have to call him this or call him that? It’s so boring. I’ve been with actors like that and they’re a pain in the ass, they really are,” he continued. “They’re unpleasant to work with and I don’t think they’re always that good either. I’ve worked with some awkward customers, fortunately not too many. I go out of my way never to work with them again.”

Anthony Hopkins didn’t want to fake more than two heart attack scenes for ‘Meet Joe Black’

Although Hopkins has always been against method acting, he has believed that certain roles may leave a deeper mark than others. So much so that it can sometimes have a negative influence on the actor’s mood swings.

“I’ve never been aware of it in the past but I guess it does affect me. I remember when I played Nixon I had a sort of minor crack-up – depression and all that sort of thing,” Hopkins once said according to Contact Music. “

Hopkins also had trouble with another role in Proof, where he played a troubled genius. He confided that the part infiltrated his system in a way that manipulated his body.

“I just felt depressed… I don’t think I’m crazy, but I think if you’re on set every day dressed like that and speaking those lines, as I was, I think it does get into your nervous system because the body doesn’t know what’s happening,” he added.

The unpredictable physical and psychological symptoms of going too deep into a character interfered with Hopkins’ work in Meet Joe Black. In the 1998 Brad Pitt feature, Joe Black’s director Martin Brest wanted to do multiple takes of Hopkins having a heart attack. But Hopkins was quick to put limits on the number of takes he’d have fake heart attacks in.

“I was working with a director who loved to do a lot of takes… I had to have a heart attack, so I said to myself, ‘Get a doctor to check out what it’s like to experience a heart attack,’” Hopkins recalled.

The decision was for the sake of Hopkins’ own health.

“’I’ll give you two takes, that’s all…because my body doesn’t know I’m not having a heart attack,’” he told Brest.

Anthony Hopkins didn’t want to gain weight for Alfred Hitchcock because he believed he would’ve died

Meet Joe Black wasn’t the only film where Hopkins was looking after his health more than his performance. The Transformers star also refused to put on more weight for the 2012 film Hitchcock. Playing the esteemed director Alfred Hitchcock, Hopkins felt wearing a fat suit was enough.

“For Tony, putting on the costume, and the suit, allows him to step in and become the character. That’s a huge part of his process. Tony told me, ‘Once I stepped into his shoes, I felt like I walked in his shoes,’” Hitchcock director Sacha Gervasi once told Entertainment Weekly.

Hopkins confided to AARP his reasoning for avoiding gaining weight was simply because he didn’t think he’d survive the physical toll.

“I think if I’d put on the weight, I would have died,” Hopkins said. “He was massively overweight. I lost 15 pounds because I didn’t want to be overweight lugging that fat suit around.”

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