Sir Anthony Hopkins holds up his Cecil B. DeMille award backstage at the Golden Globes
  • Cecil B. DeMille

Ready for My deMille: Profiles in Excellence: Anthony Hopkins, 2006

Beginning in 1952 when the Cecil B. deMille Award was presented to its namesake visionary director, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has awarded its most prestigious prize 66 times. From Walt Disney to Bette DavisElizabeth Taylor to Steven Spielberg and 62 others, the deMille has gone to luminaries – actors, directors, producers – who have left an indelible mark on Hollywood. Sometimes mistaken with a career achievement award,  per HFPA statute, the deMille is more precisely bestowed for  “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment”. In this series, HFPA cognoscente and former president Philip Berk profiles deMille laureates through the years.

Anthony Hopkins never dreamed he would one day become one of the world’s great actors. Even his parents held out little hope for him, but he persevered and after two years of national service and studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he did some repertory theatre, where he was discovered by Sir Laurence Olivier who recommended he try out for the newly established National Theater.

Peter O’Toole–Katharine Hepburn Golden Globe award-winner The Lion in Winter playing Richard the Lionhearted and his reward for that was being cast in American television movies, for which he gained a sterling reputation, but no challenging offers.

Richard Burton.

MagicThe Elephant Man, The Bounty, and Charing Cross Road with kudos going to his costars John Hurt, Mel Gibson, and Anne Bancroft. He seemed to get more respect in the theater when he starred in Pravda in the West End. But then unexpectedly, after 30 years in the business, Jonathan Demme chose him to play the evil sociopath in The Silence of the Lambs. For that 20-minute role as Hannibal Lecter, he won the Academy Award as best actor, and since then he has never looked back.

Howard’s End, the reticent English butler in TheNixon, and theologian C.S. Lewis in Shadowland, four of the greatest performances in screen history. Yet, even after being knighted by the Queen, Sir Anthony has never taken himself too seriously and harbors no delusions about his being someone special.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Alan Parker’s The Road to WellvilleLegends of the Fall with Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, for which he earned his sixth Golden Globe nomination, James Ivory’s Surviving Picasso, David Mamet’s The EdgeThe Mask of Zorro with a then-emerging Antonio Banderas and Welsh compatriot Catherine Zeta-JonesMeet Joe Black again with Brad Pitt, Julie Taymor’s Titus, Scott Hicks’s Hearts in Atlantis, Robert Benton’s The Human Stain, Oliver Stone’s Alexander, John Madden’s Proof, and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

The Tenth Man, best actor in a TV movie, for The Silence of the Lambs, The Remains of the Day, and for Nixon, all for best actor in a motion picture drama, and last year for The Two Popes, as best supporting actor.