After a brilliant career on stage and film, Anthony Hopkins finally received wide public recognition-and genuine movie stardom-in the unlikely but compelling role of cannibalistic killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and capped it off with an Academy Award as Best Actor. Although his quiet, placid expression and naturally calm voice evoke typical English reserve, in his best work Hopkins often violently overturns those preconceptions of him. True, he was completely effective playing the kind, decent doctor in The Elephant Man (1980), but in fact he was much more effective playing the unhinged ventriloquist in Magic (1978) and, of course, Lecter in Lambs. His performance in the latter is the sort that fixes itself in viewers' minds forever; it's fortunate for Hopkins that he did it later in his career than Anthony Perkins did Norman Bates.
Trained at the Cardiff College of Drama, Hopkins enjoyed extensive stage work before beginning his film career, essaying supporting roles in a series of distinguished films, including The Lion in Winter (1968) and Hamlet (1969). His screen output during the 1970s was largely impressive, and he appeared in many madefor-TV movies-an uncommon career path for classically trained British actors. Beginning with Magic (1978) he showed a penchant for eccentric roles, and while he didn't exactly stumble through the 1980s, his good work in small films such as 84 Charing Cross Road and The Good Father (both 1987) -often went unnoticed, while his better-than-they deserved performances in such tripe as A Change of Seasons (1980) and the TV miniseries Hollywood Wives got more public attention. Not that he didn't get plum parts: he won Emmy Awards for The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976), in which he played Bruno Hauptmann, and The Bunker (1981), as Hitler. In 1984, Hopkins played the domineering Captain Bligh in The Bounty a much-heralded remake that fizzled at box offices. Much in demand after Lambs he appeared in Freejack, Howards End (in a brilliant performance), Bram Stoker's Dracula (as vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing) and Chaplin (as a book editor), all in 1992 and was Oscar-nominated again for The Remains of the Day (1993). Trivia fans take note: He looped several of Laurence Olivier's lines for a scene in the restored version of Spartacus.