At 73 years old, Sir Anthony Hopkins is trying to live by a new life philosophy: expect nothing.
“Expectation leads to resentment and depression, so I have no expectations,” he says. “To be realistic is a great freedom. I have no illusions about my position in this world as an actor or anything like that. No illusions at all. I’m very realistic. Reality is a very liberating thing.”
But this recently discovered enlightenment doesn’t mean Hopkins isn’t doing anything anymore. The notoriously busy actor has several projects lined up, as well as a number of completed films out this year, including his latest, The Rite.
In the religious thriller, Hopkins stars as a veteran exorcist fighting on the front lines for the Vatican. But it wasn’t a project he immediately jumped at.
“I thought I didn’t want to play another spooky guy, you know? I wasn’t sure,” he says.
Then, of course, there was the subject matter. Let’s just say religious certainty doesn’t exactly jibe with Hopkins’ newfound philosophy.
“I don’t know what my beliefs are, really, about any of it,” he says. “Anyone who says they know — ‘I believe in the truth.’ Oh, the truth? A lot of trouble that got us into over the last thousands of years. Hitler knew the truth. So did Stalin, so did Mao Zedong, so did Torquemada in the Spanish Inquisition. They all knew the truth, and that caused such horror. Certainty is the enemy. Human beings? We know nothing.”
But despite any qualms Hopkins has with Catholicism, he’s more than happy to play a character who’s more than a little scary — and the man who is still best known for playing Hannibal Lecter knows a thing or two about being scary.
“You have fun with it. I know what scares people, I know what’s scary on film, because that’s what I do,” he says. “I guess I’ve got a knack for it, but it doesn’t mean I’m a scary person. My wife’s not scared of me. I’m scared of her.”
Part of Hopkins’ fresh sense of calm has come from not taking Hollywood too seriously, he insists.
“What is so liberating about this whole business is when you see the big movies are going to come out, and then you see them up in Malibu in a little triplex theatre a week later on a scratched negative and you think, That’s it?” he says. “It’s a great liberation thinking that none of it is important. That’s a great feeling — nothing matters anymore.”