'20/20': Walters Interviews Anthony Hopkins

ByABC News
February 2, 2001, 3:24 PM

Feb. 2 -- A few weeks ago on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Anthony Hopkins left his hand- and footprints in cement.

Like his many movies, his imprints memorialize the 63-year-old actor who finally realized his childhood dream of being rich and famous.

It was also a celebration of sorts, marking the return of the character that won him an Academy Award and made him a superstar. Hannibal Lecter returns to screens next week in the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal.

Hopkins sits down with Barbara Walters on 20/20 and reveals some interesting similarities between him and his infamous character.

On Being Hannibal

WALTERS: You have said that you really understood Hannibal, and that he was not a difficult part for you to play. Why?

HOPKINS: I've no idea. I read the first script many years ago and I knew that it was one of those parts, that I could slip into like a glove. I think he is a little like me in a way. He's a person in solitude and isolation. I am a bit of a solitude person a solitary personality. I like being on my own. I don't have any major friendships or relationships with people.

WALTERS: You never blink.


WALTERS: As Hannibal.

HOPKINS: It's a trick I learned because, if you don't blink, you know you can keep the audience mesmerized. It's not so much not blinking, it's just being still. Stillness has an economy and it has a power about it. And I have learned that by watching other great American actors.

On Becoming an American

HOPKINS: I have always been American, in my heart

WALTERS: That's so interesting. I mean, you grow up in Wales. You spend your life in Great Britain. And you feel like an American.

HOPKINS: Well, I'll tell you. As I won't go into a long story, but a bit. During the end of the last war gosh, it's a long time ago there was an American soldier who came and visited us. And he used to send us food parcels after the war, and magazines Look magazine, and Life magazine and I used to pour over these things, and I became, I guess imprinted with Americana. And I had a secret yen, to come to America. I remember coming to New York, in 1974 to do a play here called Equis. And I remember the first morning getting up and walking around the streets and I thought, "I'm home." I felt really at peace here.