BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JULY 30: Sir Anthony Hopkins speaks onstage during the ‘Westworld’ panel discussion at the HBO portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 30, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
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Anthony Hopkins: My Battles With Directors

I overheard  a  producer  say,  “If  you  kicked  an  Englishman  in  the  heart,  you’d  break  your  toes.” Oh,  we  work  aplenty.  After  all,  we  have a  much stronger  tradition  of  theatre. Actors are schooled in England. We are technically  trained. Not  America’s  subjective approach to  acting. But  it’s  interesting  that  British  actors  are  usually  cast  as heavies  in  American  movies.  Maybe  it’s  some  kind  of  cultural  archetype  in  America  that  believes  the  British  are  not to  be trusted.

Robert Duvall  once  said  to Glenn Close — Jeremy  Irons told  me  this  when  he  and  Glenn  were  doing  The Real Thing  on Broadway –Duval  took  her  to  lunch,  and  he  said to  her about  Jeremy  Irons,  “How  can  you  trust  a  guy  that talks  like  that?”  So,  deep  in  the  American  consciousness, we’re  not  to  be  trusted.  Maybe  it  goes  back  to  the  American  Revolution.

A  lot  of  directors  are  bullies.  No  matter.  I  need  a  good director  because  I  can’t  be  on  my  own,  either  on  stage  or in  film. In  the  past  I  have  led  the  fray  against  directors because  I  didn’t  always  respect  them,  but  do  now  more than  ever.

Actors  can  be  infuriating  people  with  big  egos,  but  a really  good  director  is  somebody  who  will, like Jonathan Demme, let  you express character  through  your  psychology and  body. If  he  knows  his  stuff, he  will  concentrate  on guiding  the  speed  of  the  scene,  the  rhythm,  the  pace.In  the  theatre,  the  director  has  to  have  the  whole  plan in  his  head. He’s  got  fifteen  actors  on  stage, all  those  egos bumping about. He’s  got  to  sort  them  out. If  an  actor doesn’t agree, a  sensible  director  will  negotiate.

The  worst  directors  are  the  ones  who  shout  and  scream. They’re  a  nightmare. The  late  John  Dexter,  who  directed Equus  and  M.  Butterfly, was  one. John was a  very  tough, brutal  director.  He  could  be  savage. After  Equus  I  vowed  I’d  never  work  with  him  again,  but as  the  years  passed  I  thought,  I’ve  got  to work  with  this guy  again  to  get  the  record  straight. So  I  worked  with   him  on  M.Butterfly, and  it was a  pleasure, not  because John  had  changed  but  because  I had.  We had  a  lot  of  fun, and  he was  very  nice. I  put  up  with  his bullying  because  he  knew  what  he  was  doing.”