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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
The Valley boy in Hollywood
Sir Anthony Hopkins and estranged wife Jenni
Sir Anthony, pictured with his estranged wife Jenni
Sir Anthony Hopkins was branded "Hannibal Defector" when he attained fully-fledged American citizenship this week.

But in spite of this, he still professes his love for the country of his birth.

Born in 1937 in Port Talbot, South Wales, Philip Anthony Hopkins was an only child born into a domineering family. His grandfather had a fiery temperament, and the young Anthony grew up fearful of his imposing manner.

According to Hopkins, he fell into acting because of his dislike of school.

"I was lousy in school," he once said. "Real screwed-up. A moron. I was antisocial and didn't bother with the other kids. A really bad student.

"I didn't have any brains. I didn't know what I was doing there. That's why I became an actor."

Olivier audition

At 17, he joined a community junior drama club. He went on to attend the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, and in 1961 won a scholarship to London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Anthony Hopkins
Hopkins has caused a storm by taking dual citizenship

In 1963 he became a member of the Phoenix Theatre company in Leicester, and two years later successfully auditioned before Laurence Olivier for a position in the National Theatre.

Soon after, though, he began a move into film and television acting.

His first notable role was playing Richard the Lionheart in 1968's The Lion in Winter, in which he starred with Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

He won Emmy awards for two television roles, as Bruno Hauptmann in The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case in 1976 and as Adolf Hitler in The Bunker in 1981.

However, he was increasingly taking film roles. He has appeared in nearly 90 movies, many of which have garnered critical acclaim.

However, off screen things were not as smooth. Up until 1975 he was an alcoholic. He admitted his problem after waking up in an Arizona hotel with a crippling hangover and no recollection of how he got there.

Hannibal fame

His best-known role is probably the chilling Dr Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in Jonathan Demme's 1991 psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

Remains of the Day
He played a repressed English butler in The Remains of the Day

The role brought him to a wider audience in America. Lecter is one of the most memorable villains in cinema history, with his fierce intelligence coupled with a pure malice. The role brought Hopkins an Oscar and a Bafta award, both for best actor.

Characteristically, his next films were hugely different. In 1993 he starred alongside Emma Thompson and Vanessa Redgrave in Howard's End, and won a Bafta for his role as CS Lewis in Shadowlands.

He was also nominated for an Oscar for his part in a version of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The Remains of the Day. In the film, Hopkins played the repressed butler, whose decorum is tested by the housekeeper who falls in love with him.

Always a great character actor, in 1995 Hopkins played the title role in Oliver Stone's biopic Nixon, for which he was again nominated for an Oscar.

Snowdon donation

In 1996 Hopkins tried his hand at directing. August was an adaptation of the Chekov play Uncle Vanya, which he transposed to a seaside Wales setting.

Anthony Hopkins
He was knighted in 1993

It was not a great success, with critics complaining that it was too bleak. But, true to form, he received another Oscar nomination the following year for his role as the former US president John Quincy Adams in Steven Spielberg's slave drama Amistad.

A string of Hollywood blockbusters followed, including 1998's The Mask of Zorro and Meet Joe Black, and Instinct (1999).

In 1987 he received a CBE from the Queen, who knighted him in 1993. The University of Wales gave him an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in 1988.

In 1998 he donated 1 million to help preserve Snowdon, Wales' tallest mountain.

Now 63 - and holding dual citizenship of the US and UK - Sir Anthony recently took the title role in a film adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.

He is also soon to start filming Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence Of The Lambs.

See also:

24 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Oscar saved as star's house burns
21 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Sir Anthony set for Lambs sequel
13 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Sir Anthony becomes US citizen
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