Hopkins with his wife, Stella. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
” She said,’ Well, if they don’t work , no one’s going to put you in prisons ,'” he says. And nobody did, because his depicts are pretty fine; they sell for thousands of dollars. He evidences me some on his telephone. They’re expressionist, full of luminous colourings-” South American colours: Stella is Colombian”- and he’s working towards a depict next year in St Petersburg, which he’s very excited about.
” Ask me more questions !” he says. He doesn’t want to waste time sitting around while the photographer lists up. We talk animals. He and Stella collect stray cats and dogs. We talk politics. He doesn’t care about Trump; he doesn’t vote. He takes a widescreen approach to politics, because focusing on the detail realizes him too unfortunate.” I don’t vote because I don’t trust anyone. We’ve never got it right, human beings. We are all a mess, and we’re very early in our evolution. Look back throughout history: you have the 20 th century, the murder of 100 million people, barely 80 years ago. The 1914 -1 8 conflict, the civil campaign in America, thrashing, bloodshed … I don’t know if there’s a design in it, but it is extraordinary to look at it and get a perspective. I imagine,’ Well, if it’s the end, there’s nothing we can do about it, and it’ll blow over, whatever happens .'”
He recollects talking to his father on the phone during the Cuban missile crisis (” and I was a raving Marxist then “) and his father remarking that the bombard “couldve been” descended on London, so Hopkins would be all right,” because the bomb will fell on you, so you won’t know much about it. But in Wales, we’ll suffer the fallout .” His dad also once said to him, about Hitler and world war ii,” Six years later, he was dead in a bunker. So much for the Third Reich”, which sees me laugh.
Now he escapes report and politics, for his peace of mind.” In America, they’re obsessed with healthy nutrient ,” he says.” They say to you, if you ingest junk food, you get fat and “youre dying”. Well, television is run by money and corporate dominance and sponsorship. It’s junk food for the intelligence. Toxic .” If he’s not busy, he prescribes books online and to be sent to friends- Wake Up And Live ! by Dorothea Brande, The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F ** k by Sarah Knight- or watches old movies and Tv on his iPad. He was preoccupied with Breaking Bad, and wrote a lovely letter to Bryan Cranston exalt his acting; now, he likes watching Midsomer Murders, The Persuaders and Rosemary& Thyme.
We talk a bit about the #MeToo action. Hopkins says, about Harvey Weinstein,” I did know about the person you are referring to, about his sex stuff. I know he is a rude man and a tyrant. But I shunned him, I didn’t want anything to do with people like that. Bully .” And actually, despite his desire to live and let live, Hopkins often calls bullies out: when John Dexter, the director of M Butterfly, started wailing at everyone in the casting, Hopkins told him to stop.” I said,’ John, you don’t need to do this. You’re a great director. Stop it .’ And he cried. I mean, I understand if people are bullies. They’ve got their problems. I can’t evaluate them, I won’t make fun of them at bestows. It’s correct for women to standing up for themselves, because it’s unacceptable. But I don’t have a desire to dance on anyone’s grave .”
He understands that we can all be horrific, and we are to be able be kind. Fame and superpower “ve got nothing” to do with it. I tell Hopkins something the singer Tony Bennett once said-” Life learns you how to live it if you live long enough”- and he is delighted.” How astonishing. What an amazing thing to say! You know, I meet young people, and they want to act and they want to be famous, and I tell them, when you get to the top of the tree, there’s nothing up there. Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie. Accept life as it is. Just be grateful to be alive .”
He indicates me a video on his phone. It’s of him aged three, with his papa on a beach near Aberavon. His dad is grinning. Hopkins is a cherubic child, with golden scrolls, caught somewhere between laughing and crying.” I was upset because I’d fell a cough sugary .” He preserves it because it reminds him of how far he’s come.
” I thoughts,’ Good God, I should be reflected in Port Talbot .’ Either dead, or working in my father’s bakery. For some inexplicable reasonablenes I’m here, and nothing of it acquires sense. And I look at him and I say,’ We did OK, kid .'”
* King Lear is on BBC2 on Monday 28 May.
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