Anthony Hopkins: I don’t know or care if I have a grandchild
Legendary actor has some shocking views on family relationships
In the BBC’s forthcoming adaptations of King Lear, Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as a man driven mad by the breakdown of the father-daughter relationship.
Not so in real life. In a startling interview, Sir Anthony has coolly declared that he neither knows nor cares if his only child, Abigail, has made him a grandfather.
Abigail was the child of Sir Anthony’s first marriage, to Petronella Barker. He left the family when she was a toddler.In the 1990s, father and daughter had a brief rapprochement and Sir Anthony arranged for Abigail, then an aspiring actress, to have cameos on two of his films, Shadowlands and The Remains of the Day. But now there is no contact.
Asked if he is a grandfather now, Sir Anthony, 80, replied: “I don’t have any idea. People break up. Families split and, you know, ‘Get on with your life.’ People make choices. I don’t care one way or the other.”
When told that sounded rather cold, Hopkins replied: “Well, it is cold. Because life is cold.”
Hopkins, for the record, does not have children.
Sir Anthony also offered his take on Lear, and with it a further insight into his own familial bonds.Lear’s favourite daughter is Cordelia because she is a tomboy, the actor explained. As for his other two daughters, Goneril and Regan: “He didn’t even like them. And that happens with families.
“You don’t have to like your family. Children don’t like their fathers. You don’t have to love each other.”
Sir Anthony played Lear at the National Theatre in 1986, but now feels he was too young to understand the role. He said:
“I didn’t get it right. For the last few years, I had contemplated doing it again because at 80 I can understand the mechanisms within an older man – mechanisms of fear and despond - and so I thought I was right to play it.”
He plays the king as “a fast, furious old man who is incapable of love”.
The BBC Two adaptation stars Emma Thompson, Emily Watson and Florence Pugh as Lear’s daughters.The Oscar-winning star became an American citizen in 2000 and lives in California with his third wife, Stella Arroyave.
Hopkins, a singer-songwriter based in London, gave an interview to the Telegraph a decade ago in which she described her difficult relationship with her father.
She was 14 months old when Sir Anthony, then an alcoholic, abandoned the family. He soon married his second wife, Jennifer Lynton.
Hopkins said of her childhood: “I would see him, but maybe once a year. There is a little bit of sadness but I have to get on with my life. It has always been like that. See him, and then not.”They fell out when she was aged 16. Aged 18, she dropped out of university and told one interviewer that she had a breakdown: “I bottled up so much emotion in my childhood it caused my mind to go. I came very close to killing myself,” although she has since stressed that she did not attempt suicide.
She trained as an actor at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York and had cameos in her father’s films, but even on set they barely spoke: “He kept himself to himself, and I kept myself to myself.”
Hopkins believes she has inherited her father’s musical talent – he had early dreams of being a concert pianist – and love of acting, and some of his depressive traits. “Maybe it is all in the genes. There have been more than a few parallels,” she has said.
Despite their history, she has been reluctant to criticise her father. “I love my father. He has been very supportive. I really wish him well,” she said in 2006, five years into their estrangement.
– © The Daily Telegraph