Sir Anthony Hopkins as King Lear : Discussion

By now you’ve likely seen the trailer for Amazon’s upcoming production of King Lear, starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Emily Watson and a host of other recognizable names.  If not, here you go:

What do we think?  I’ve been speaking with people about it on a number of fronts, both online and real life.  Naturally, I’m looking forward to it.

But …  I don’t know. I’m wary about something and I can’t quite place it.  I’ve watched the trailer several times now. I wanted to comment on how it’s going to be all about the costumes and scenery and less about the words (“you should be able to hear a great Shakespeare play,” I wrote in one draft of this post). But that’s not it.  Kenneth Branagh made some gorgeous productions that we loved.

And I was going to say that there’s more in the trailer that’s not Shakespeare than actual Shakespeare, but again when I went looking I couldn’t see that the problem was all that bad.  I’m still not sure where the hooded execution comes from, and the machine gun fire.  But for the most part – the cars, the hunting dogs, etc… I can see where they’ll most likely fit naturally into the story.

I think my problem is simply with Anthony Hopkins.  I don’t see King Lear (like I did with Alexander Barnett).  I see Hopkins. I see him acting angry, I see him acting silly, I see him in a jaunty little hat like he’s going fishing (or about to play Waiting for Godot). There are times when this can work, given what we know of his past roles.  Seeing a clearly pissed off Anthony Hopkins say, “Better thou hadst not been born than not to have pleased me better,” you can almost imagine the same line coming out of Hannibal Lecter.

Is it just me?  I can’t really say the same about Ian McKellen, for example. I don’t look at Magneto and Gandalf (and King Lear ;)) and say, “Yup, same guy.” I’ve long praised Daniel Day Lewis’ ability to just absolutely disappear into his roles. But something about Hopkins. All I ever see is Hopkins.

What do you think?




4 thoughts on “Sir Anthony Hopkins as King Lear : Discussion

  1. It’s you. Theatre and film require the “willing suspension of disbelief”–if you’re unwilling, you’ll never see otherwise.

  2. It’s not you. Some actors are very difficult to divorce from the parts they play. Whether because their brand is so iconic or they just never fully lose themselves in the character- they always seem to be an actor playing a role. I totally get your wariness about Hopkins on this score. I like Anthony Hopkins. I like the parts he plays. But this won’t be King Lear. It will be Anthony Hopkins as King Lear. But hey, I still want to see it!

  3. Dunno what the big deal is about Sir Ian, all I ever think of is his Richard III, saw him on stage in London, then the movie… but his other roles? I always think of him as Richard III, a particularly nasty and villainous one, at that.

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