Sir Anthony Hopkins


  1. Bradford Dillman, 1969.    Good enough for The Lion In Winter, but rejected when Hollywood went to war – again.
  2. Robert Mitchum, Ryan’s Daughter, 1970.      John Box, David Lean’s production designer on Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, suggested the star of his own production for the schoolteacher…
  3. Christopher Jones, Ryan’s Daughter, 1970.    Robert Bolt composed a new take on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for Sarah Miles and handed themselves to David Lean.  Hmm, sajd Lean, go away, try another take – no Bovarys and no France. Hence the film made in Ireland plus a stunning South African beach.  Sarah’s war hero lover was penned by Robert Bolt for Brando. Until he was delayed on his Italian film, Queimada (Burn) in Columbia. The writer then suggested Richard Burton, Richard Harris or Peter O’Toole. “He ought to have some quite forbidding darkness in him,” said Bolt. “Brando and Burton could both do that. Peter might appear sullen or posturing.”  John Box was producing The Looking Glass War and invited director David Lean to take a gander at one of the cast: Anthony Hopkins. Lean fell, instead, for his co-star, Jones, much younger and very honest. “I’m not an actor,” he kept saying. As if he needed to. He had to be dubbed in both films. 
  4. TP McKenna, Straw Dogs, 1971.    Dustin  Hoffman made it just for the money.  Hopkins (and Trevor Howard) didn’t make it at all.  Director Sam Peckinpah promoted TPM to Major Scott.
  5. Malcolm McDowell, Voyage of the Damned, 1975.  In a Nazi propaganda exercise – “Nobody loves Jews – so leave them to us”- Germany ships Jews to Havana, in the full knowledge that Cuba won’t accept them. Nor will any other nation. They return home, by which time WWII has begun, and of the 937 passengers, more than 600 die in concentration camps!  ThIs is no retread of Katharine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools, although similar and both featuring José Ferrer and Oskar Werner (in his final film here). No, this is a terrible true story, stuffed with stars, too many to deal with. Denholm Elliott has one scene, Orson Welles, four; luckier than the jettisoned Janet Suzman and Jack Warden.  A good guy this once, Malcolm McDowell was among the crew instead of (take a breath)… fellow Brits Jon Finch, Anthony Hopkins, Simon MacCorkindale, Ian McShane, John Moulder-Brown. Martin Potter and Hollywood’s Keith Carradine, Jeff Conaway, Raul Julia, Martin Kove, Joe Mantegna,  Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, John Ritter, John Travolta, Jon Voight.
  6. Christopher Plummer, International Velvet, 1978.       Writer-producer-director Bryan Forbes offered Tony a choice of horsey roles. He left Seaton to Plummer and  chose Captain  Johnson, “the crusty trainer – I needed the cash!”
  7. Michael Caine, The Island, 1980.       Jaws author Peter Benchley chose Caine on hearing an exec’s wife talking about the terrible Swarm.  “If he can carry that, he can carry this.”
  8. John Thaw, The Grass Is Greener, Sweden-Zambia, 1980.       First duo for the Doris Lessing novel in 1978, Hopkins-Glenda Jackson, became Thaw-Karen Black.
  9. Ian McKellan, Priest of Love, 1981.      Too busy (with a new agent) to play DH Lawrence.
  10. Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1981.

    His Magic director Richard Attenborough asked Hopkins  in 1973 and  again after directing him in  Magic, 1978.  “That  really  got to my ego,  my vanity.  I’d think, well, I’ve got Gandhi to look forward to.  Then,  I looked in the mirror and thought: ‘He’s crazy!’  I’d sweat off the weight  – agony!  But I can’t go through a year of macrobiotic junk. I can’t do that!  I enjoy food. I enjoy living. I’d be impossible to live with. I mean,    I would die! I called Dickie [Attenborough]:        “It would be madness.  I’ll destroy your film.   I won’t be able to give you my best.  I’ll probably not live long enough.’  He was very sweet about it.  But if    I had done it, it would have been an act of terrible vanity, proving I can cosmetically change myself and lose 10 stone and end up in a coffin.  I would’ve died.  I know that.”

  11. Albert Finney, Under The Volcano, 1984.     “Decided to take Bligh in The  Bounty.  I knew him better and preferred Tahiti to Mexico.”
  12. Peter Firth, Lifeforce, 1984.   
  13. Richard Burton, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1984.     Director Michael Radford fought hard to film the Orwell classic in the author’s chosen time span – April-June 1984.  Even then, Radford  was six weeks into shooting before finding his interrogator, O’Brien. “Burton was always on the list,” Radford told the Den of Geek website, “but I didn’t really want a drunk around the place.” He tried Hopkins, Sean Connery, Paul Scofield, Rod Steiger. So Burton it was. In his final role. The picture is dedicated to him, even though one scene took him 41 takes to get right.
  14. Michael Caine, Mona Lisa, 1985.     “I’m not right for it.” More than 20 years later, Hopkins told Jay Leno he informed director Neil Jordan that Caine would be perfect the London mobster.
  15. Timothy Dalton, The Doctor and the Devils, 1985.    Producer Lawrence Schiller’s plan when first winning rights to the 32-year-oldscript by Swansea’s Dylan Thomas, the self-styled Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive.
  16. Roy Marsden, Only Fools and Horses #46: Little Problems, TV, 1988.    Hopkins had agreed to a guest cameo in the popular BBC sitcom, when he got the call for something completely different. The Silence of the Lambs. His gallery of characters includes, John Quincy Adams, Lieutenant William Bligh (of The Bounty), Charles Dickens, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, Alfred Hitchcock, Adolf Hitler, John Harvey Kellogg CS Lewis, David Lloyd George, Richard Nixon, Pablo Picasso, Yitzhak Rabinand Frederick Treves..!
  17. Jack Palance, City Slickers, 1990. Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Billy Crystal stars and helped write it – and immediately thought of Palance as Curly, the iron cowpuncher still in Shane mode. Even so it was also offered to Bronson who refused, said Billy, “in an unseemly way” – because Curly died. Next? Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins (an off-kilter notion) , Harvey Keitel. And Clint Eastwood (too pricey… but that would have been something!) and two of his future co-stars, Gene Hackman and John Malkovich. Palance stole the movie and Oscarnight – winning a support award 38 years after his only nomination (for the Shane gunman). He celebrated with one-arm push-ups on the Academy stage – and the 1993 sequel. Bronson must have been livid!
  18. Raul Julia, The Threepenny Opera, 1988.     Welsh or not, he worried about his singing voice – and about film’s backers.The dreaded Cannon!
  19. Denholm Elliott, A Murder of Quality, TV, 1991.   Obviously, Alec Guinness was asked to reprise his definitive George Smiley for a third time – after the global tele-triumsh of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spyand Smiley’s People,  Twice was evidently enough. Anthony Hopkins (from The Looking Glass War, 1969, also by John le Carré) also passed, disliking certain script changes. Elliott refused with three days to go as returning to the UK from Spain would have caused a heavy tax bill. What if we double your fee? Aha! And Elliott became the fourth Smiley after Rupert Davies, James Mason and Guinness; Gary Oldman was fifth in the cinema- Tinker Tailor  in 2011. Alas, this Quality was strained (no espionage, you see) and was the last Le Carrébook made for TV until the brilliant Night Manager  some 25 years later!
  20. Hank Azaria, The Simpsons #76: Last Exit to Springfield, TV, 1993. Since its 1989 birth, the yellowtoon family Simpson smashed records for episodes, audiences, and the most guest stars (as themselves or others). From Buzz Aldrin, Glenn Close (Homer’s Mom), Dennis Franz (Evil Homer!), George Harrison, Stephen Hawking, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hope, Eric Idle to Paul and Linda McCartney, Conan O’Brien (a Simpsons writer made good), Michelle Pfeiffer, Mickey Rooney, Ringo Starr, Meryl Streep plus Barry (and Betty) White! Not all celebs played ball… Antrhiny Hopkins and Clint Eastwood refused to vloice a… dentist!  Anthony Perkins   volunteered for  Dr Wolf, but died before the scheduled recording.  Enter: yet another voice from Hank Azaria’s gallery of Professor Frink, Moe Szyzlak, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Chief Wiggum, etc.

  21. Gary Oldman, Immortal Beloved, 1994.      “I’ve hated you for years,” director Ken Russell told fellow UK film-maker Bernard Rose. “I was going to make that movie. I had Anthony Hopkins: he even got into the costume…” Rose knew; whenhe inherited the project he tried to getHopkins, too.No way. Rose may have been Ken’s greatest fan, but hewas not Russell. “Sorry if I pinched Immortal Beloved off you,” Rose told his idol in 2008. “Anyway, it got terrible reviews.”
  22. Michael Caine, On Deadly Ground, 1994.  What?! With Steven Seagal directing himself? That was an obvious insult for Hopkins and Alan Rickman. But Caine…  He must have had another house to buy…
  23. Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.
  24. Jeff Bridges, White Squall, 1995.    Both Hopkins and Gary Oldman let Ridley Scott’s storm-struck yacht sail on by.
  25. Robert Duvall, The Scarlet Letter, 1995.    Like Daniel Day-Lewis who refused to be Demi Moore’s lover, Hopkins knew manure when he sees it and likewise avoided her husband – played by Duvall, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “as if he’d never had sex in his life and didn’t want anybody else to partake, either.”
  26. Patrick Stewart, Richard III, 1996.      Ian McKellan’s first choice for Buckingham, but funding took so long, Tony was playing the US version – Nixon.
  27. George Segal, The Mirror Has Two Faces, 1996.      Director and star Barbra Streisand wanted Tonyand Ralph Fiennes backing her and Jeff Bridges in her (sort of) re-make of Michele Morgan’s 1958role.
  28. David Huddleston,The Big Lebowski, 1997.    In his making-of book, ex-Coen Brothers assistant Alex Belth said the titular casting of the fat, wheelchair-bound Pasadena tycoon(Jeff Bridges was the son, remember) was among the final decisions made before shooting. The Coens aimed high – Marlon Brando! – then chewed through Hopkins (not keen on playing Americans), Ernest Borgnine, Robert Duvall (not seduced by ther script), Andy Griffith (great idea!), Gene Hackman (on a break), author Norman Mailer, George C Scott, the longtime right vleft political adversaries William F Buckley and Gore Vidal…. And even the arch conservative  Bible thumping televangelist Jerry Falwell!
  29. Tony Curtis, Brittle Glory, 1996.     While plugging away forinternational sales of his film,then called The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man and His Faithful Sidekick Tadpole, at the 1995 Cannes festival market, writer-director Stewart Schill insisted other actors who showed interest in being old caped TV hero on hard times included Hopkins, Harvey Keitel and John Malkovich.
  30. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin, 1996.

  31. Jonathan Pryce, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
  32. Jack Palance, City Slickers, 1990. Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Billy Crystal stars and helped write it – and immediately thought of Palance as Curly, the iron cowpuncher still in Shane mode. Even so it was also offered to Bronson who refused, said Billy, “in an unseemly way” – because Curly died. Next? Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins (an off-kilter notion) , Harvey Keitel. And Clint Eastwood (too pricey… but that would have been something!) and two of his future co-stars, Gene Hackman and John Malkovich. Palance stole the movie and Oscarnight – winning a support award 38 years after his only nomination (for the Shane gunman). He celebrated with one-arm push-ups on the Academy stage – and the 1993 sequel. Bronson must have been livid!
  33. Jeremy Irons, Lolita, 1997.     Adrian Lyne felt Tony too old at 60 – just as Hugh Grant was way too young at 35.  Irons was 49.
  34. Geoffrey Rush, Les Miserables, 1997.    “Javert is just too unrelenting,”  Hopkins told me in Paris. He much preferred the fun of The Mask of Zorro, 1998.   Didn’t we all!  
  35. Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules, 1998.     Hopkins and Billy Crudup were early choices for the abortionist and the orphan in the greatly delayedfilm of John Irving’s 1985 novel – winning Caine his second support Oscar.
  36. Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast, 2000.      Kingsley re-launched his career and image asan explosive London gangster far from his usual reverential, not to say boring roles – based, so he said, upon his granny
  37. Robert De Niro, Meet The Parents, 2000.      It’s just possible that Hopkins could have been a more frightening father-in-law than De Niro. Remember: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
  38. Marcel Iures, Hart’s War, 2001.      Big break for the Romanian actor when Tony passed on the cameo of the German commander of POWs like Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell.
  39. Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Ring trilogy, 2001-03.
  40. Terence Stamp, The Haunted Mansion, 2003.   He’d buttled, already… And had no wish to look like Boris Karloff – Terry Stamp’s fate after some nifty Rick Baker make-up for the “specrtretacular.” The film, first due in 1985, was named after, rather than based on the Disneyland ride. Eddie Murphy, however, is no Johnny Depp.

  41. Hugh Grant, Love Actually, 2003.     In one of the (too) many Richard Curtis love stories, the bachelor UK Prime Minister falls for the 10 Downing Street’s tea-lady. Who should be elected as PM? Hopkins was shooting The Human Stain in Quebec (and he’d already played two US Presidents!). Michael Crawford was back on Broadway. Michael Gambon was Harry Pottering, Result: Grant all but stole the movie! Result: Grant stole the movie in a landslide victory.
  42. Hugh Jackman, Van Helsing, 2004.  First due in 1994 as a sequel to Dracula, 1992, with Hopkins reprising the (now title) role. He preferredto continue beingHannibal Lecter.
  43. Michael Caine, Batman Begins, 2004.
  44. Bob Hoskins, Danny The Dog (UK/US: Unleashed), 2004.   A Luc Besson offer (written for an occupied Albert Finney) interested Hopkins, Michael Caine, Billy Connolly, Brian Cox. Until they discovered Besson was producing only, not directing.
  45. Jonathan Pryce, The Brothers Grimm, 2005.      Originally due as General Delatombe, Napoleon’s man in his occupied Germany, 1811. Gilliam simply called up his 1985 Brazil star.
  46. David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.     Tim Burton is so quirky. Hannibal Lecter as Grandpa Joe! Burton had a dozen possibilities (two passed before passing, Gregory Peck, Peter Ustinov) and he gave it to the veteran Irish actor (“in three minutes,” said Kelly) on running into him at Pinewood studios for a costume fitting for another film. The other old guys were Richard Attenborough, Kirk Douglas, Christopher Lloyd, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Paul Newman, Max von Sydow, Eli Wallach, David Warner.  
  47. Marlon Brando, Superman Returns, 2005.
  48. Ed Harris, Copying Beethoven, 2006.      The biopic was designed for Hopkins, who backed out just as he had with a previous Beethoven offer – Immortal Beloved, 1994.
  49. Christopher Plummer, The Last Station, 2009.      Following Anthony Quinn’s death in 200l, Hopkins was the next choice for Tolstoy in the long and winding road of bringing Jay Parini’s novel about the writer’s deathto the screen – 18 drafts over 20 years. “I found myself wrapped in extended real-life version of Zorba,” said Parini, “loving Tony Quinn as a friend, but increasingly uncertain about the versions of my novel that we generated.”  So, from   Hopkins and Meryl Streep (ah!) to Plummer and Helen Mirren (wow !).  They made the couple more vital than you might expect in a historical picture, not Chicago critic Roger Ebert..
  50. Jesse Eisenberg, The Double,2012. Seventeen years earlier,Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film the Dostoievski taleof aman faced with his doppleganger and total opposite: confident, charismatic, good with women.(Last made by Bertolucci as Partner, 1968). John Travolta turned his back on $8m (and Paris) in June 1995. Hopkins had no time (booked for Nixon, Picasso, etc). Jack Nicholson, A lPacino weren’t keen. Steve Martin was but the project collapsed when Isabelle Adjani quit followed by Polanski.Jesse (just 12 at the time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade.
  51. John Travolta, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016.       While Gotti Juniors, writers, directors (Nick Cassavetes, Barry Levinson) and years sped by, Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don – as Gotti Sr, was known when the untouchable ruler of New York’s Gambino Mafia family.   Much earlier, the part had been rejected by Hopkins and Al Pacino Very wise: the movie was another of Travolta’s  gigantic flops. 
















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