I am very proud of Slipstream, he says in defiance of the critics who were confused by the story. I wrote it five or six years ago, just as kind of an experiment, really. I like to write, and I dont know if I am a writer or not. Who knows? What is a writer, anyway? I still write scripts, and I write plays. I write in a very strange way -- stream of consciousness.
He makes no excuses for the poor reception of the very private project, just as he makes no prediction about his latest and very public film, The Wolfman, in which he plays Sir John Talbot, the father to Benicio Del Toros Lawrence Talbot.
Its a spectacular-looking movie, Hopkins says as we order breakfast. Better than anything I imagined. [Director] Joe Johnston has done a terrific job. I cant understand how he came up with some ideas. Theres also a process in it, which is kind of like a graphic novel. Its filmed in a peculiar way, and people look weird. Theres a kind of fairy-tale aspect, where the cameras angled, the way the lens distorts things. Its really a fascinating-looking film.
The Wolfman has been remade numerous times, but this incarnation promises to be the most modern and high-tech. Hopkins wont give away too much, but he does call the father he plays nutty and admits to physically fighting with his son in the film. My role is nicely spaced out in the beginning, middle, and end. I have two or three big scenes, he says. Its one of those parts you dont have to be in it all the time. Those are the best parts, just be in and come on back. Like Hannibal Lecter [whom I played in The Silence of the Lambs]. Like Harry Lime in The Third Man or Brando in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
Entertainment Weekly recently ranked Dr. Hannibal Lecter as the third-most-vile villain in movie history. But theres another role Hopkins played that is arguably even more chilling, because it was a real-life historical figure: Richard Nixon.
With Nixon, when Oliver Stone came to me, I initially turned it down, Hopkins remembers. I said, Are you crazy? How can you cast me in this? Oliver Stone said to me, You can play it because youre Welsh and an outsider. He felt I could understand and sympathize with the insecurity of the guy. I finally had the courage to say, Okay, Ill do it. Then the nightmare started. It was a good nightmare, because Oliver pushes you to the wall. Its like being in a bar fight. He challenges you and says, Do it. And you reach a breaking point where suddenly your ego just goes out the window and you become it.