Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

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bosguy1981
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Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby bosguy1981 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:17 pm

I was watching special features on the Silence of the Lambs dvd recently, and Anthony Hopkins mentions that director Jonathan Demme cast him as Hannibal Lector because he was so impressed with Hopkins' work in The Elephant Man.

I remember reading something -- I believe in the book, Beautiful Dark -- that Hopkins seemed to have a mostly unpleasant experience being directed by Lynch.

Have you ever read any interviews where Hopkins talks about the filming experience, working with Lynch, or his overall impression of The Elephant Man after it was finished? I'm curious to his thoughts, especially years after the fact.
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jmichael
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby jmichael » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:28 am

I've never heard Hopkins speak on the matter, but I think in Lynch on Lynch, David is asked about his experience working with Hopkins and he says something like "the less said the better."

No matter what their working relationship, both men turn in career milestone work.
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moviemaker
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby moviemaker » Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:22 pm

Here you go (and an interview with Anthony Hopkins way down below which tells a different story):


Source: The Anthony Hopkins biography Too Good to Waste by Quentin Falk

Just ten days before shooting was due to start on The Elephant Man, its young American director, David Lynch, excitedly revealed his intricate blueprint for John Merrick's horrific make-up. His colleagues were indeed horrified - but not quite in the way Lynch had anticipated. Recalls Terry Clegg, who was the film's production supervisor: 'It wouldn't even have passed muster at a children's concert. It was rather like someone wearing a pair of long-johns covered in rubber latex - an utter disaster.'

Consequently the design was handed over to the expert Christopher Tucker, who went away to re-think and re-design a head that must be so horrifying as to explain why the unfortunate Merrick should have been star exhibit in a foul Victorian freak show before becoming the darling of a curious, prurient society. While Tucker tinkered with his prosthetics, filming had to forge ahead, with this unforeseen hitch already responsible for a 25 per cent increase in production costs.

Whether the expensive (and somewhat humiliating) setback was responsible or whether Lynch - making his first major film following only the low-budget cult success of his experimental Eraserhead - was just naturally reticent, Tony found the director a tricky proposition from the day he arrived on the set. Tony was to play surgeon Frederick Treves (from whose poignant reminiscences the screenplay is partly derived), who discovered Merrick in sideshow squalor and helped, temporarily, to rehabilitate him. Shooting was to begin in the London Docks area.

Tony had taken it upon himself to grow a beard for the role, which he felt would be in keeping with his Victorian character. 'I want the beard off,' Lynch told him at their first encounter on a wet Monday morning. Tony refused. Lynch asked him again, but Tony was adamant. The pressure on Lynch increased as the scenes in which John Hurt (as Merrick) could be filmed with a sack over his head began to run out (there was still no usable mask); accordingly, Tony's relationship with the director became ever more tense.

Tony was worried: 'He [Lynch] wore this big brown trilby, a long black cloak and tennis shoes and I had the feeling most of his performance as director was going into his hat. I said to the producer, Jonathan Sanger, why the hell doesn't he get rid of the hat and communicate with us instead of just standing there and playing director? I remember Mel Brooks [whose company Brooksfilms was behind the film] saying, "The guy's a genius. Even Idon't know what he's talking about." The fact was, he was a perfectly pleasant fellow and I was the one who was unpleasant because I became increasingly irritated with what I felt was his rather arrogant lack of communication. We were somehow supposed to understand his thoughts.'

In the absence of what he perceived as any suitable guidance, Tony devised his own method of tackling the role: 'I thought, "This guy's not going to help me in any way and he keeps poking the viewfinder up my nose, so I'm going to play it very muted as if the camera wasn't there at all." As a result the film became a rather fascinating experience for me, like a very private trip.'

Armed with this confidence, Tony came to the scene where he first lays eyes on Merrick. John Hurt was absent because the mask was still not ready and so they used a stand-in. Lynch wanted this time to talk through the scene but Tony declared firmly, 'Justlet me do it. I see the Elephant Man and I'm horrified. Let me use my imagination.' They did the crucial scene in one take.

Tony's approach to the role, and to film acting in general (bearing in mind perhaps his armed neutrality with Lynch), can be gauged from an intriguing interview he gave during filming to Tony Crawley of Films Illustrated: 'I've found out how to be as simple - sparing - as possible, so that one barely acts at all. Just speak the lines, play the situation as honestly as one can, and get the balance right. There is not much more you can do with Treves, which, to say the least, is a loaded subject where one could go overboard, tread perilously near to sentiment. I'm playing a doctor who picks up this grotesque freak puts him in hospital and looks after him. That's simply it. That amounts to the plot. Oh, he also overcomes a little opposition from the hospital authorities. 'The temptation would be, and I've been keeping an eye on it myself, to play a caring person all the way through the film. I could do that - the loving doctor, the hero. But he has put this man on display again, and for his own egotism, until he realizes what he is doing. I mustn't be soft-eyed and warm-acting all the time. Not necessarily Life's not like that. I think there are moments when he actually hates Merrick. Treves is a victim, too.

'I remember, when we were doing War and Peace, the scene where the old peasant Platon Karatayev is dying on the retreat from Moscow. I went back to Tolstoy and he described Pierre's disgust and anger because the old man is dying. Pierre is pushing the cart and hears a dog's howl echoing out - and Platon is dead. 'When you read it, you want to cry. But Tolstoy is brilliant. He wrote how all Pierre could think of was how many miles to the next town and he wished the dog would stop howling. And I think - I hope - there may be moments like that in The Elephant Man where Treves would think "Urgh! . . ." '

Crawley then suggested, 'Actor, direct thyself?'

Tony agreed: 'Look, if a man suddenly comes in here and shoots up the entire bar with a machine-gun and kills the barman, I don't have to act horror. Put that on film and I don't have to do anything. The audience does the rest. Take a scene we've been doing today, just a short scene - well, it's a dramatic turning point. They've found Merrick [he has been spirited away from the hospital back to the freak show], a problem is resolved . . . There's a big reaction shot of my face, while I'm sitting at a desk. Somebody comes in. "It's all right. They've found him." Blank face. I don't have to do any more than that . . . But the director always wants you to show it. To act the scene. "Gee, I dunno, Tony . . . Can you give me a little more?" No! There's nothing to show. Once you show them more, what you show them, in fact, is bad acting.'

Surrounded by some of Britain's finest technicians - including the cinematographer Freddie Francis, the editor Anne Coates and the designer Stuart Craig - Lynch, communicative or not (but unsure of himself, and certainly inexperienced, according to Terry Clegg), still managed to oversee what resulted in a remarkable, haunting movie perfectly complemented by monochrome. 'If there's a wrong note in this unique movie - in performance, production design, cinematography or anywhere else - I must have missed it,' wrote Paul Taylor in Time Out.

Tony - who admires the film immensely but resolutely recalls Lynch as 'obtuse, obscure and very puzzling' - had his thoughts during filming underscored when Margaret Hinxman in the Daily Mail, praising the piece as 'not a peepshow for horror addicts, but as a moving and uplifting tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit,' also noted: 'Treves (played with troubled restraint by Anthony Hopkins) is forced to wonder whether he hasn't unwittingly imposed another kind of sideshow bondage, albeit more comfortable, on Merrick.' Also on his wavelength was Pauline Kael: 'John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins - both specialists in masochism - might have leaked so much emotion that the film would slip its sprocket. But Hopkins comes through with an unexpectedly crisp, highly varied performance - the kind you respect an actor for.'

The Elephant Man received no less than eight Hollywood Oscar nominations but, in the year of Ordinary People, Raging Bull and The Coalminer's Daughter, not a single statuette. As some sort of compensation there were three awards from the British Film Academy, for best film, design and, for emoting beneath Chris Tucker's heavyweight make-up (38 inches in diameter, it took five hours to fit), John Hurt.


And Finally this interview with Anthony Hopkins in 2008:

What's the story between you and David Lynch on the set of "The Elephant Man"?
In those days I was younger and I was impatient because he liked to do a lot of takes. I said, "I don't want to do all that."Many years later I wrote him a letter apologizing for my behavior "˜cause I saw "Elephant Man"and it was really a terrific movie. "Mulholland Drive"and all the films that he's done since then are the proof of it.
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby Faringold » Sat Oct 29, 2011 11:06 am

God knows where I read it but I remember reading a report of Hopkins blowing his top at Lynch in front of the whole crew because of Lynch's lack of confidence/direction. If I remember correctly I think he said he felt very bad about it at the time but Lynch did actually respond by being more assertive from then on. Sorry I don't have a source.

Edit: Could have been in the Michel Chion/Robert Julian book but that's just a guess.
bosguy1981
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby bosguy1981 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:30 am

moviemaker wrote:Here you go (and an interview with Anthony Hopkins way down below which tells a different story):



Thanks for sharing these sources! It's nice to read that Anthony Hopkins wrote Lynch a letter years later to clear the air.
My0wl
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby My0wl » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:44 am

Hahaha....

"The less said the better,eh..."

I was just about to say....
Oh,never mind...

Yes,they're both very 'authorative' and 'in charge' sorts,aren't they...

You could see them clashing,couldn't you !!!!!

8)
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Buck's Student
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby Buck's Student » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:19 pm

It seems as Lynch got older, he didn't do as many takes. I know in Inland Empire, he didn't care if actors got all the right lines, but the general feeling of the scene. The latter is known to infuriate Hopkins, who memorizes his lines and always insists on staying as close to the script as possible.
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby My0wl » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:35 pm

Yes...
Lynch works on atmosphere and feel a lot,doesn't he...

(Intuition)
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Buck's Student
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby Buck's Student » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:52 pm

Definitely. That's something I take to heart creatively, as well.
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Re: Anthony Hopkins and Lynch

Postby John Neff » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:10 am

Well, I have heard the story directly from Lynch, and it certainly isn't so 'nicey-nicey' from Dave's standpoint as that old Hopkins interview. So much of it is personal and I won't compromise Dave's confidence in me, but shall only point out to you that it still weighed so heavily on Tony's conscience, that in 2008, some 26 years later, it was he who wrote the apology.

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