BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 January 2008, 11:21 GMT
Sir Anthony turns 70 with friends
Anthony Hopkins and his wife Stella heading for the party
Sir Anthony and Stella head to the party from Cardiff's St David's Hotel
Oscar-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins has celebrated his 70th birthday on New Year's Eve near his south Wales birthplace.

Sir Anthony, who now lives in the US, asked 50 of his oldest friends to join him for the celebration at the Margam Park Orangery near Port Talbot.

Fellow Port Talbot actor Michael Sheen was also at the party a few miles from where Sir Anthony was born.

Another old friend Alan Davies said the star had a "whale of a time".

Sir Anthony's wife Stella organised the celebration along with a friend of the couple Eve Williams.

The actor had requested his childhood friends from Taibach, where he grew up as a baker's son, and those he first started acting with at the local YMCA should attend.

Mr Davies was one of the YMCA group in the 1950s and he was delighted to join the 70th celebrations.

He loves Wales and he loves all his friends and family
Friend Alan Davies

"I was there with my friends. Anthony had a wonderful time," Mr Davies told BBC Radio Wales.

Guests at the 18th Century Orangery, which is owned by Neath Port Talbot Council, dined on Welsh lamb and drank "copious amounts of champagne", said Mr Davies.

"It was a real 'let-your hair down 'style of party. Everybody mucked in and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

"And his wife deserves a great big medal for the organisation of it because it was very good indeed," he said.

Before the event there had been speculation that Sir Anthony might be joined by fellow Welsh US-based celebrities Sir Tom Jones and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Michael Sheen
Actor Michael Sheen was one of the few celebrities invited

But Mr Davies confirmed they did not attend, although Michael Sheen and fellow actor Julian Fellowes were there.

After the meal, Sir Anthony was first up onto the dance floor.

"He led the way with Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock. He and Stella were up straightaway and everybody else joined in. There was a huge melee to start," explained Mr Davies.

In between the dancing, Sir Anthony found time to talk to his old friends and then gave a speech, in which he mentioned fellow Welsh actor, the late Richard Burton, whose brother Graham Jenkins was also a guest.

Mr Jenkins also made a speech, in which he said "very complimentary stuff", Mr Davies said.

Invitations to the party were sent in a silver box and people were asked to wear "cocktail attire".

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal, Othello; in War and Peace and a 1974 Play For Today
In character - Anthony Hopkins in roles for film and TV

Controversially, Sir Anthony became a US citizen in 2000 but his biographer Michael Feeny Callan said coming back to Wales brought him "full circle in many ways".

"It's love-hate, but there's a great love at the heart of it," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"This is the boy from Wales following in his fantasy, following in the footsteps of his hero figure Richard Burton, reaching Olympian heights and his goals, now coming back home to say to everyone, thank you for my Welshness."

And, after the party, Alan Davies said he recognised the old Port Talbot boy he had grown up with.

"He doesn't seem to be much different, he's very laid back now. He was so laid back when he was young you thought he would have fallen asleep," he said.

"He's a nice guy and he's all over Wales actually. He loves Wales and he loves all his friends and family"



SEE ALSO
Hopkins back home for 70th bash
31 May 07 |  South West Wales
Hopkins weds for the third time
03 Mar 03 |  Entertainment

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific