At 71, Hopkins remains an actor’s actor. He’s been nominated for six Golden Globe Awards, four Emmys, and four Academy Awards. Winning an Oscar in 1992 meant a great deal to him -- even more than being knighted by the Queen.

“Getting the Oscar was a great moment for me,” he says. “It changed my life because it knocked a lot of myself down inside of me -- not crippling self-doubts but doubts that I wanted to be rid of.”

Hopkins previously often took a cynical, tough-guy attitude toward his profession, especially the theater. He told me once that the world didn’t really need Shakespeare or Stratford-upon-Avon. “Who gives a damn about a theater that was built 400 years ago?” he asked at the time. “Who cares? Pave it. It’s dead stuff. It’s like the bloody Bard. … Who gives a damn? You’re doing what 15,000 actors have done before you.”

On the subject of actors, he was just as pugnacious: “We’re all phony. We’re all charlatans. We’re all flawed; we’re all liars,” he said.

But such remarks are water under the bridge for him now. He prefers to think that he has mellowed and that what he used to say was really a defense mechanism -- he said outrageous things to beat the reporter at his own game. Some of it had to do with his drinking, which was a problem for him until he found a program in 1975 that helped him quit. And some of it had to do with a rage he often felt simmering beneath his surface.

Today, though, he’s a different man. He’s been happily married to Stella Arroyave since 2003, and he says he’ll only work on projects he really wants to do.

His most recent films have included the 2006 big-screen remake of All the King’s Men; Emilio Estevez’s Bobby; Fracture, which also starred Ryan Gosling; 2007’s Beowulf; and his independent project, Slipstream Dream.