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Video – Sandra Bullock Accepts Her Oscar for Best Actress

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

How can you not love this Woman. Her best feature is her personality and just being “real”. I mean she is just a girl who does not take what she has in life for granted and she appreciates all that she has. Not sure if this was her best performance but she won.

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Categories: ACTORS, AWARDS, VIDEOS

Video – Sandra Bullock Accepts Razzie Award for Worst Actress

Here is Sandra Bullock accepting her Award for Worst Actress in a film at  the Razzies 2010. It is funny and it shows whey we all love her. She really is down to earth and a cool chick. Jesse is one lucky dude.

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Categories: ACTORS, AWARDS, VIDEOS

Wesley Snipes Tries to Redeem Himself in 'Brooklyn's Finest'

For Wesley Snipes, ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ is no stretch

Wesley Snipes

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times / February 12, 2010)

By Steven Zeitchik >>>

March 5, 2010

When most of us last saw Wesley Snipes, he wasn’t in his usual position as a hero on a movie screen. Instead, he was inhabiting a far less savory role, starring as both a news headline and late-night punch line.

Back in 2006, Snipes was brought up on enough tax-related charges to keep a fleet of IRS agents busy for years: conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, aiding and abetting the making of a fraudulent claim for payment and willfully failing to file a number of tax returns. He was acquitted on all felony counts but found guilty on several misdemeanor charges and sentenced to three years in jail; he is currently appealing, and is out on bail and free to travel for work.

But one of Hollywood’s most compelling subjects is now attempting a comeback — in the peculiar way that only he can — with “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a bloody ensemble crime drama directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”). In the Overture Films release, which hits theaters Friday, Snipes plays Cassanova Valentine, a former drug kingpin who’s trying to go straight but whom the feds are determined to bust anyway, using an undercover cop (Don Cheadle) to do the deed.

“Part of what makes the character work is that it’s immediately identifiable in the arc of my career,” Snipes says. “And in the arc of my life.”

IRS controversies aside, the Cassanova role serves as a bookend of sorts to Snipes’ iconic Nino Brown character from “New Jack City” (1991). The difference is that instead of the megalomaniacal crime lord he played in that urban classic, Snipes’ new character sits at the other end of the pipe, a man who’s lived too hard and seen too much to want anything but out. It’s a small part, but one that illustrates the movie’s twin themes of redemption and one’s inability to escape the past.

The Cassanova part is Snipes’ first mainstream theatrical movie in six years. But in his inimitably quirky way, the 47-year-old actor says he isn’t necessarily using his turn in the film, or the curiosity factors about the parallels to his own life, to land studio parts. Instead, his grand ambition these days is to become a . . . Web animation producer?

On an unseasonably warm February day at a beach-side restaurant in Santa Monica, Snipes isn’t exactly dressed for a dip in the pool. Dressed in a hat that’s cocked Andre 3000-style, a black sweater and bespoke leather coat, Snipes bites into a hearty meal of sausage and eggs, though, since this is Wesley Snipes, there is an unexpected touch as he drinks the very un-action hero beverage of hot chocolate.

Snipes’ story would be improbable enough even if the last four years didn’t happen. A classically trained theater actor who made his early mark two decades ago in comedies such as “Major League” and “White Men Can’t Jump,” Snipes got a boost from Spike Lee, who cast him in “”Jungle Fever” and “Mo’ Better Blues,” then won a professional golden ticket as Hollywood made him a go-to action star in studio vehicles such as “Passenger 57,” “Rising Sun” and eventually the “Blade” trilogy.

Then, four years ago, it all went south. After his high-profile tax troubles, Snipes became an unlikely poster-child for the anti-tax movement and was essentially ostracized by Hollywood. Fuqua acknowledged in an interview that casting Snipes in “Brooklyn’s Finest” was a struggle because some financiers were worried about his legal status. But the director says he was determined to put Snipes in the film because while watching the television reports of his tax trouble he was struck by how “it paralleled so perfectly” what happens to the Cassanova character. “I didn’t want a guy who yells and screams. I wanted someone you feel fear but also sympathy,” Fuqua says. “And then I saw Wesley going through what he was going through and I thought ‘This is a guy who’s living it right now.’ “

So it’s probably not surprising that Snipes sounds a little aggrieved with how the last few years have gone. But his tone is more complex, at once penitent and defiant, humble and grandiose. He bows at the end of the interview, like a martial-arts fighter — which, oh yes, he also happens to be — and thanks a reporter for his time.

“You try to be liquid, try to be like water, like Bruce [Lee] says,” when asked how he’s been coping with the criticism. “Some things you just let flow around you, some things you just redirect back.” Then he sharpens the knives. “Sometimes you just sit and be patient and wait, and if you sit by the river long enough sometimes you see the bodies of your enemies floating by.”

Thoughtful, articulate and flagrantly theatrical, Snipes is too savvy to place blame on anyone but himself. But it’s clear that he feels Hollywood was too quick to judge him and still believes the government made an example of him.

In a gesture at once sincere and conscious, he shoulders the blame — sort of. “Going through the trial woke me up to the significance of what I do,” he says. “[The government] said it was the largest and biggest and most important tax case. And I thought ‘Really? What am I missing here? Why would you say that, just because I make movies?’ That was a wake-up call.”

Snipes tried not to let those troubles get in the way of work, though the kind of work he’s been doing won’t get him invited to the Oscars any time soon. Snipes has been off in Africa and Asia making movies for people who, in some cases, in Snipes’ words, “use filmmaking like they’re selling toasters, toothbrushes or henna on the beach. You read some of what the fans are saying, things like ‘Why is he now doing the B-movies?’ and I was like ‘My man. That’s not my preference.’ “

Fuqua decided to take a chance on him as a drug dealer opposite a host of cops in “Brooklyn’s Finest.” Snipes is part of the interlocking puzzle that has Richard Gere as a burnt-out cop on the verge of retirement, Ethan Hawke as a desperate officer trying to pilfer cash from an arrest to help his family and Cheadle’s undercover officer trying to attain a promotion (and thrust into the morally questionable position of ratting out Snipes’ Cassanova despite the pair’s long-standing friendship).

With the part, Snipes says, “it’s good to be welcomed home.” And Cheadle said in an interview that Snipes has “got a real good soul, and he should get more shots” because of this film. But Snipes said he isn’t really that interested in studio parts. Instead, he’s developing a series of Web animation shorts called “Omandi Mech 5” that he “wants to scale out like ‘Transformers’ or ‘Star Wars,’ ” although, after watching one, those comparisons feel like a bit of a stretch.

Turning to
his personal life, Snipes can sound almost monkish. “I’m at a really good place. I’ve reduced a lot of the stress in my life. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of things. The light was turned on and a lot of the cockroaches started spinning. I swept them out the door. And sometimes you just have to throw things out because they carry a certain energy. Reboot. It’s time to reboot.”

steve.zeitchik@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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Categories: ACTORS, BACKSTORY

"The Dude" on Jeff Bridges: A Unique American Icon

February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Jeff Dowd on Jeff Bridges: A unique American icon

February 26, 2010 |  5:58 pm
Bridges

Jeff Dowd is an indie film producer and promoter who is known to one and all as the Dude, having served in large part as the inspiration for Jeff Bridges’ immortal Dude character in the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski.” Dowd is always brimming with crazy ideas, political rants and is impossible to get off the phone once he gets up a full head of steam. As Roger Ebert once put it, Dowd is “tall, large and shaggy and a boil of enthusiasm.”

So when he checked in the other day, asking if he could offer a tribute to the great acting work Bridges has done over the years, I knew better than to say no. After all, pretty much wherever I go, I find Bridges fans of all stripes and sizes. When I was yakking the other day with Long Beach Press-Telegram basketball writer Frank Burlison, who’s my guru when it comes to high school basketball, just the mention of Bridges’ name sent Frank off on a 20-minute Cicero-style oration on the glories of the actor’s work over the year.

Since Bridges has been so refreshingly modest about his own craft, I thought it only fair to turn the microphone over to Mr. Dowd, who has a pretty intriguing take on what make Bridges such an unique acting talent and righteous human being. As Dowd says in his piece, Bridges has become an American icon who “fulfills the sacred function of the artist, saint, jester and the Holy Fool: helping us see through the illusions of the world.” In other words, a major dude indeed.

But don’t take my word — read what Dowd has to say for yourself:  

“I used to be somebody, now I’m somebody else” is a self-pitying lament from Bad Blake, the washed-up country singer who struggles to find his heart and soul, exquisitely portrayed by Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart.”

For movie-goers, who have been cinematically blessed watching Jeff Bridges for nearly four decades in 65 movies, “I used to be somebody, now I’m somebody else” is a reminder of how Jeff Bridges has fully inhabited such a wide array of characters and authentically captured their essence with a full palette of shades from light to dark. Bridges has taken us through a mosaic of perspectives of the uniquely American experience.

After four Academy Award nominations, it looks like Jeff Bridges may finally be singing late into the night with his new friend Oscar. Critical acclaim has been unanimous. Awards for his outstanding performance like the best actor award from his peers in the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globe have been rolling down Bridges’ lane faster than bowling balls. Yet there’s something about the appeal of Jeff Bridges and the characters he creates which goes deeper than his engaging performances, good looks, charm, humor, heart, brains and acting chops. That was the mystery that I may have stumbled into figuring out with a little help from my friends. Let’s flashback.

I vividly remember the first time I encountered Jeff Bridges in his big screen debut in “The Last Picture Show,” adapted from Larry McMurtry’s small Texas town classic American book by director Peter Bogdanovich. Bridges was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his measured portrayal of Duane Jackson.  It was the first time that Jeff didn’t come home with an Oscar — it was awarded to fellow cast member Ben Johnson for playing “Sam the Lion,” the mythological local Yoda Texan of his day. “Last Picture Show” was the first of many movies with Bridges that shed cinematic light on forever-changing America. 

A new generation of directors recognized Jeff Bridges could shape-shift into exceptional characters while creating iconic Americans the same way directors Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, John Ford and Preston Sturges did in their time with the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Joel McCrea, Henry Fonda and John Wayne–fellows who you could have a drink with and come away with something.

On Duane’s final night in Anarene, Texas, before he heads off for the Korean War, his buddy Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) takes him to the last picture show at the Royal Theatre, which is going out of business. The next morning, Duane dresses in his Army uniform, hands the car keys to his prized Mercury coupe over to Sonny. “Take care of her until I get back,” he says as he is about to get on the Trailways bus and innocently ship out to war.  Duane’s last line is “See you in a year or two if I don’t get shot.” 

When asked which of the great characters he has played people like most, Bridges exhales a laugh in B flat and exclaims “The Dude of course!” The curious nature of  “Lebowski’s” laid-back Dude becoming so beloved is what gave me a clue to solve the mystery of a deeper connection Jeff was making with people.

Up until 1998 I was moved and entertained by Jeff Bridge’s performances like everyone else. Then I got a phone call. Even though Jeff Bridges and I were both born only two weeks apart in California, it was Joel and Ethan Coen who mischievously crossed our stars while mixing up their “Dude … or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Duderino, if, you know, you’re not into the whole brevity thing…” creating an unforeseen stellar Dude cocktail which somehow would continue to burn beyond anyone’s imagination fueled by comedy as highly combustible as silver nitrate in film stock.

The Coens were making “The Big Lebowski” with John Goodman and Jeff Bridges.  But I didn’t know who was going to play my persona “The Dude.” Size-wise I’m on the cusp — it could go either way. If it was John Goodman I feared that Joel and Ethan would be taking fully loaded satirical pot shots at some Hollywood wacko. I’m a big and easy target. But I felt reassured when I learned it was Jeff Bridges who was going to play “The Dude,” because he always gets to the soul of a character — so figuring in two heaping spoonfuls of Joel and Ethan Coen’s cynicism and two slices of wry humor with Jeff at the wheel I might get lucky and be portrayed sympathetically as a fun, likable fool, not a total fool (I’m on the cusp on that one too).

The Dude in “The Big Lebowski” is not my story, it is Joel and Ethan taking a lot of of liberty with Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain’s Los Angeles crime dramas, which they fashioned into a buddies movie where most everything goes wrong while pumping the film full of laughing gas and an occasional acid trip. What remains of me that even my  friends were impressed and amused by was how Jeff Bridges’ Dude captured my body language, camaraderie, rebellious spirit, hang-loose style, mumbled ironic opinions and even my recurring flying dream. Joel and Ethan, who enjoy stacking the deck against their characters, chose to pan past my active real life and have more fun making the Dude an ill-prepared burnt-out slacker: “Quite possibly the laziest [man] in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide.” How and why did this laid-back Dude become so admired and respected?

Even though Bridges had been doing it on screen for decades, when spending time on the set o
f “The Big Lebowski” I saw how Jeff was always as much of a supporting actor as a supported actor. Bridges’ down-home professionalism and desire and ability to connect with other great character actors like John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman are what make so many scenes in “The Big Lebowski” enjoyable to watch again and again even if you don’t watch the whole movie — you can watch a scene or sequence and get all the laughs you need for the day. That’s one reason it has become the default pop in and out movie of choice on many team and band buses and planes and a fun and familiar rest stop for weary channel surfers.

While doing shows, speaking and hanging out I have met a very diverse group of people who have shared with me a multitude of reasons why they like “The Big Lebowski.” But what I couldn’t figure out for a long time is all the folks who say to me “Dude. You are an inspiration. You changed my life,” of course by “You” they mean Jeff Bridges’ doppelganger Dude in the movie. But I wondered what it was in the Dude, a former activist who has become a pot smoking bowling slacker — not exactly an inspiring role model — that appeals to not only college students but professionals of all ages, soldiers and families. 

Much of that can be attributed to Bridges’ performance. Yet when I inquire, the answer goes beyond that and they lionize the Dude: “The Dude isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. He’s his own man.”   In a world where so many of us are muzzled at home, school or work — we appreciate the Dude “looking out for all us sinners,” as Sam Elliott’s cowboy says in the film.

It probably all starts with the mystery of Jeff Bridges and his deeper appeal. He has often played an everyman up against all odds “helping us see through the illusions of our world” — holy fools, who enlighten us frequently while tickling our funny bones. For decades Bridges has been an ever-changing mythological all-American Holy Fool fulfilling the role for us that every culture in history has created because we need those folks around to make sense of our world and our brief time upon it.

If we give the body of Jeff Bridges’ work the old Martian or “E.T.” test — what would a space alien’s impression be of America and its people be if they only watched Jeff Bridges movies? —  I think it would be a helluva a portrait: emotionally deep, textured, complex and ironic, often burning a mythological flame beneath. The body of Jeff Bridges’ America is broad and diverse as well as wonderfully specific in the characters he has played and the world they live in. We may not be at all like most of the characters but what they need, how they discover and attain it has universal appeal.

Bridges captured the transitional spirit of the ’70s in films like John Huston’s “Fat City,” the whimsical “Rancho Deluxe” and “Hearts of the West,” “Stay Hungry” and the conspiratorial “Winter Kills” with John Huston playing Bridges’ all big business father in a cautionary tale about the danger of healthcare conglomerates made three decades ago. In 1980s Bridges broad range went from dark in “Cutter’s Way” to light in his lovable “Starman.” Jeff, his brother Beau and Michelle Pfeiffer were intimate, delightful  and delicious in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

In the last decade of the 20th century, Bridges contends with Robin Williams’ Holy Fool in Terry Gilliam’s wild and extraordinary “The Fisher King,” does some of the best acting of his career in Peter Weir’s “Fearless” and gets a lot of laughs in “The Big Lebowski” while telling it like it is. In the new millennium he has played a president in “The Contender,” Kevin Spacey’s shrink in “K-Pax” and “Seabiscuit’s” dedicated owner, who helps the equine hero restore hope to America during the Great Depression. “Crazy Heart” ties the room together with Jeff’s nuanced and powerful performance, which Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan calls “the capstone role of his career.” Even if you are turned off by hard-drinking country musicians, don’t miss Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” which will fire up your heart and soul.

I believe that what goes around comes around, and after supporting so many others I think Oscar may be coming back around your way, Dude! I can’t help but wonder how much Jeff’s stable relations, starting with his parents and brother and continuing with his wife Susan, have to do with his friendly nature, success and, dare I say, happiness. I can reflect on Bob Dylan’s lyrics from “The Man in Me” that the extraordinary songwriter, singer, producer and music supervisor T Bone Burnett chose to put in “The Big Lebowski”:

 “Take a woman like you, to find the man in me. But, oh, what a wonderful feeling “

Jeff Bridges has become an American icon who has played unique characters in film after film which probe deep into the American psyche and condition. He fulfills the sacred function of the artist, saint, jester and the Holy Fool: helping us see through the illusions of the world. Jeff Bridges has helped us remember and realize that all the great things about life and its cast of characters and his films empower us with enough emotional fuel to take on yet another challenging day.

Here’s Bridges himself, singing “The Weary Kind”:

 

Photo of Jeff Bridges by Lorey Sebastian / Fox Searchlight

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Categories: ACTORS, INTERVIEWS

Tom Cruise Gets Paycut – The New Reality of Film Deals

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment
 

‘IMPOSSIBLE’ DEAL: Tom Cruise shares risk. (Paramount)

By Claudia Eller

February 15, 2010

It’s hardly a secret that Tom Cruise is no longer Hollywood’s top-gun star.

The 47-year-old boyish-looking actor has had a rough stretch, from an embarrassing jumping episode on Oprah Winfrey’s couch to the clunker “Lions for Lambs.” Many believe that his controversial career has peaked.

Now, in order to revive his big-screen role as dashing secret agent Ethan Hunt in Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible IV,” Cruise consented to a deal that would have once been unthinkable: He’s forgoing a preferential slice of the movie’s ticket sales, the sine qua non of clout in Hollywood.

Cruise will still earn a handsome payday. He will be paid $20 million of his $25-million fee upfront to star in and produce the fourth “Mission” film, which is scheduled to hit theaters Memorial Day weekend 2011.

But he won’t collect a hefty “first dollar” cut of box-office receipts that entitles stars to skim a movie’s revenues before the studio earns back its huge investment and gets a fee for distributing the film, according to people familiar with the deal. If that seems sensible, it wasn’t always the case.

Cruise’s pay structure illustrates the “new normal” for Hollywood’s A-list actors and filmmakers, who no longer can command the super-rich deals that awarded them swollen payouts on movies even when the studios lost money. With once-reliable DVD sales that propped up movie profits in a swoon and other pressures bearing down, the studios are no longer willing to accept second financial billing to talent.

“Over the last 25 years, agents were getting better and better deals for their clients because the studios were star-dependent,” said Jeremy Zimmer, a partner at United Talent Agency. “Now, there’s a complete retrenchment where the studios are less star-dependent and making fewer movies, so they’re more willing to walk away unless a deal makes sense for them.”

A Paramount spokesman declined to comment about financial aspects of the “Mission” sequel.

To be sure, stars like Cruise can still make a killing if their film turns into a blockbuster. In exchange for forgoing a cut of ticket sales, the studios grant a bigger share of the potential profits

Cruise wasn’t the only one who accepted Paramount’s terms on “Mission.” The same take-it-or-leave-it deal applied to filmmaker J.J. Abrams, a producer of “Mission” whose career is on the rise. For its part, Paramount wanted to keep its “Mission: Impossible” franchise — which has generated about $1.4 billion in worldwide ticket sales — continuing and relaunch it for younger audiences and hard-core fans. It was just unwilling to do so under what it regarded as the onerous terms that undermined its 2006 sequel, “Mission: Impossible III.”

Although that movie clocked global box office of $400 million worldwide, DVD revenue of $200 million and an additional $100 million in television sales, the studio barely broke even. Cruise, guaranteed 22.5% of the studio’s gross receipts, walked off with $80 million, leaving Paramount with nothing to gain from its $180-million production investment, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Studio chairman Brad Grey and vice chairman Rob Moore weren’t about to let that happen again. This time, Paramount plans to make “Mission” for no more than $150 million, and co-finance the picture with David Ellison’s Skydance Productions. The film is scheduled to begin production in late summer.

Paramount adopted the financial blueprint for “Mission IV” from other recent movies, including its upcoming July release “Morning Glory,” which Abrams directed, and last summer’s sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which yielded a huge payday for Paramount and director Michael Bay.

If “Mission” is a smash, Cruise will likewise make a bundle after Paramount recovers all of its production and marketing costs and collects a distribution fee.

Beyond any financial windfall, Cruise’s involvement in the new “Mission” marks a significant turn in his decades-long affiliation with Viacom Inc.-owned Paramount that ended abruptly in August 2006. Back then, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone banished Cruise and his 14-year-old production company from the studio’s Melrose Avenue lot, castigating the actor for his aggressive promotion of Scientology and occasional outbursts, which included a “Today” show rant against Brooke Shields for taking prescription drugs for postpartum depression.

Redstone believed Cruise’s drop in popularity cost Paramount some $150 million in box office receipts from “Mission: Impossible III.” Two years later, around the time Cruise made a scene-stealing cameo as a foulmouthed movie mogul in Paramount’s “Tropic Thunder,” the actor and Redstone had a lunch to patch things up at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The way things are going, it’s possible that Redstone could end up escorting Cruise down the red carpet at the premiere of “Mission: Impossible IV.”

claudia.eller@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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Categories: ACTORS, NEWS STORY, PRODUCTION

Kevin Costner to Direct & Star in WWII Picture

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Kevin Costner to Direct & Star in WWII Action-Adventure

by Monika Bartyzel Feb 12th 2010 // 3:02PM

Filed under: Action, Casting, Deals, Scripts, War

Kevin Costner is gearing up for his next directorial gig. It all started with his wholly impressive debut with the Civil War era Dances with Wolves, which earned a whopping seven Oscars in 1990, and then the less-impressive follow-ups where he delivered mail in a post-apocalyptic world and protected cattle in the Old West. Now, however, he’s headed for a little small-scale conflict on the backdrop of World War II.

Variety reports that Costner’s next directorial and star vehicle will be the action-adventure film A Little War of Our Own, written by Dan Gordon. (Not to be confused with the Civil War book of the same name.) In it, he’ll play a sheriff who tries to keep “a town from exploding into violence” during WWII. It sounds like some small-stateside story rather than your typical war piece, but the film’s other lead is a German U-boat commander, so your guess is as good as mine as to how a sheriff and U-boat dude fit together.

Costner and producer Armyan Bernstein are currently casting the film, and are planning to get things going this fall. Bernstein says: “This has been a dream project for Kevin and I for years. The themes are timeless — war, peace, and reconciliation.” Could this dream project bring Costner back to his initial directorial fame? Let’s hope so. We don’t need another Postman.

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Categories: ACTORS, NEWS STORY, PRODUCTION

Anthony Hopkins on the Secret of His Spooky Success

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Anthony Hopkins is back in scary-movie mode with “The Wolfman” and the actor who was once voted the best villain in film history says he’s not really sure why he has become an icon in shadowy genres of cinema.

“I don’t know what it is, truthfully,” the 72-year-old actor said of his on-screen menace. “I think part of it is being still and all that. I don’t know. I like to kind of come in at the side door. I like to act like a submarine; just don’t do much and just let it evolve. It’s resisting the urge to push the envelope. It’s very difficult for an actor to avoid, you want to show a bit. But I think the less one shows the better.”

Hopkins won an Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. In a tally by the American Film Institute, that character was named the greatest villain in screen history, beating out the likes of Darth Vader, the Wicked Witch of the West and Tony Montana.

Hopkins returned to the role of the brilliant cannibal in two more films, and along with his work in films such as “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Magic,” it has given a certain sinister hue to his pop-culture persona.

The actor chuckled when asked about that specialty and said that his reserved approach to villainy might be the secret of his success.

“Yes, maybe that’s my stock in trade — not doing too much,” Hopkins said. “This part in ‘Wolfman’ is made for that, I think, it’s made for my type of performance.”

In “The Wolfman,” a spooky period piece that also stars Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt, Hopkins plays Sir John Talbot, a mysterious figure whose decaying old mansion seems to be under some sort of curse. Returning to the spooky old manor is Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro), Sir John’s estranged son, who has dark memories of his mother’s bloody death. He arrives to find his brother has been gutted by some giant animal or, according to the whispers in the village, some sort of supernatural beastie.

Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro in Wolfman

Hopkins said he was drawn to the role by the tension between patriarch and prodigal son. “The relationships between fathers and sons are always very complicated. In this film, my son is very obviously a disappointment to me. He’s gone off to America to be an actor and I don’t understand that. I wanted to stretch a coldness and remoteness all the way through the movie.”

Hopkins said Sir John may have old money and land but he’s obviously a man gone to seed in the film.

“I asked [director] Joe Johnston early on if I could play this guy as a long, dirty fingernails sort of man, a man with a dirty beard, clothes that he’s worn for years and a house full of dead mice and spiders. It’s all falling apart and so is he. He’s remote, living there with this strange Sikh manservant. When he goes to the village it’s only to buy provisions and he goes in a horse and cart. This is not a man who acts like a knight or a lord or anything like that.”

Hannibal

Hopkins, who was born in Port Talbot, Wales, was knighted himself in 1993 but he winces if too much formality intrudes on the set, according to Johnston.

“He makes it very clear early on that he wants to be Tony and none of this Sir Anthony stuff,” Johnston said. The director added that Hopkins brought many nuances to the final film, such as showing up with a harmonica during one key scene in an insane asylum and the suggestion that his character play the piano during a sequence where bloody discoveries are made at the mansion.

“The Wolfman” is a remake of the 1941 classic “The Wolf Man,” part of the grand old vault of Universal Pictures monster classics, along with the Dracula and Frankenstein films. Hopkins confessed that his defining memory of that era was more hysterical than horrific.

“I liked the Abbott and Costello one,” he said, referring to “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” from 1948. “I think it was the only one of those old monster movies that I saw while I was kid. I love the scene where Lou Costello is in the warehouse and he sees Bela Lugosi as Dracula and he starts going ‘hhhaaahh, haaahhhh, haahhh’ Oh, he was such a clown. I was a great fan of those movies. I prefer comedy to horror, you know, as a movie fan.”

— Geoff Boucher

PHOTOS: Top, Anthony Hopkins at his home in Point Dume inMalbu in 2007 (Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times). “The Wolfman” images are from Universal Pictures. Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs” from MGM.

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Categories: ACTORS, INTERVIEWS