8 Milestones in the Evolution of Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins stars as an unorthodox mentor to a young, reluctant exorcist in this weekend's new demonic-possession horror film, The Rite. But how did Hopkins go from a British television actor to Oscar-winner to the star of an exorcist movie? You can always trace a direct line through a handful of roles (not necessarily his best roles) to illustrate what led to an actor's current success, and with Hopkins, that line twists through everything from British period pieces to starring opposite Emilio Estevez. Let's look at eight performances -- including one of his earliest -- that chart the evolution of Philip Anthony Hopkins.

The Lion in Winter (1968)

After a few television roles, Hopkins made his film debut playing Richard I, which happened to be opposite two screen legends: Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. Hepburn would tie for the Best Actress Oscar (with Barbra Streisand) for her performance as Queen Eleanor. Not only was this Hopkins' debut, but it was also the film debut of a future James Bond, Timothy Dalton.

The Elephant Man (1981)

Ah, yes, the movie that this writer happened to watch unsupervised on Showtime as a little kid, resulting in weeks of nightmares. Hopkins plays Dr. Frederick Treves in this David Lynch classic, a man who rescues the deformed John Merrick (The Elephant Man) from a freak show to discover the intelligent, sensitive human being underneath the frightening exterior.

Freejack (1992)

After his Academy Award win for Silence of the Lambs (we will get to that), Hopkins went on a filming bender. For all of the heat that Jude Law received for overexposure circa 2004 (Law appeared in seven films from 1993 to 1994), it almost pales in comparison to the 11 films that Hopkins appeared in from 1992 to 1993. Sprinkled in these 11 were sh*tballs like Freejack, which has something to do with time travel in the distant future of 2009. Too bad the time travel capability couldn't warn Hopkins of some of the films he would be making by 2009.

The Remains of the Day (1993)

Pretty much the definition of "British period piece," Hopkins starred as a former servant who is pursued by his once co-worker (Emma Thompson) to return to the manor and work alongside her again. Hopkins would be nominated for his second Academy Award for Best Actor (losing to Tom Hanks).

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  • Uncle Ernie says:

    Either you didn't see FreeJack which was a very good movie or you're an idiot. Which is it? I'm guessing the latter!

  • J'accuse! says:

    Just came out swinging, didn't ya? Blerg. If the essence of the internet is anonymous people trashing anyone they disagree with at the drop of a pin, then you sir are pure internet.