Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, CBE, is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television. Considered to be film’s greatest living actor, he is perhaps best known for his portrayal of cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, its sequel, Hannibal, and its prequel, Red Dragon. Other prominent film credits include Magic, The Elephant Man, 84 Charing Cross Road, Dracula, Legends of the Fall, The Remains of the Day, Amistad, Nixon and Fracture. Hopkins was born and brought up in Wales. Retaining his British citizenship, he became a U.S. citizen on 12 April 2000. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003 and was made a Fellow of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2008.
Hopkins was born in Margam, Port Talbot, Wales, the son of Muriel Anne and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His schooldays were unproductive; he found that he would rather immerse himself in art, such as painting and drawing or playing the piano, than attend to his studies. In 1949, to instill discipline, his parents insisted he attend Jones’ West Monmouth Boys’ School in Pontypool, Wales. He remained there for five terms and was then educated at Cowbridge Grammar School in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.
Hopkins was influenced and encouraged to become an actor by Welsh compatriot Richard Burton, whom he met briefly at the age of 15. To that end, he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Wales, from which he graduated in 1957. After two years in the British Army doing his national service, he then moved to London where he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In 1965, after several years in repertory, he was spotted by Sir Laurence Olivier, who invited him to join the Royal National Theatre. Hopkins became Olivier’s understudy, and filled in when Olivier was struck with appendicitis during a production of August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death. Olivier later noted in his memoir, Confessions of an Actor, that, “A new young actor in the company of exceptional promise named Anthony Hopkins was understudying me and walked away with the part of Edgar like a cat with a mouse between its teeth.”