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 nothing did, because his covers are pretty fine; they sell for thousands of dollars. He evidences me some on his phone. They’re expressionist, full of luminous qualities-” South American qualities: Stella is Colombian”- and he’s working towards a reveal 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 places up. We talk animals. He and Stella collect stray cats and dogs. We talk politics. He doesn’t care about Trump; he doesn’t election. He takes a widescreen approach to politics, because focusing on the detail makes him extremely miserable.” 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 progression. Look back throughout history: “youve had” the 20 th century, the killing of 100 million people, just 80 years ago. The 1914 -1 8 campaign, the civil battle 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 envisage,’ Well, if it’s the end, there’s nothing we can do about it, and it’ll blow over, whatever happens .'”
He remembers 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 missile would be sagged on London, so Hopkins would be all right,” because the bomb will stop 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 the second world war,” Six years later, he was dead in a bunker. So much for the Third Reich”, which constructs me laugh.
Now he escapes news and politics, for his peace of mind.” In America, they’re haunted with healthy meat ,” he says.” They say to you, if you dine junk food, you get fat and you die. Well, television is run by money and corporate superpower and sponsorship. It’s junk food for the intelligence. Toxic .” If he’s not busy, he orders journals online and sends them 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 films and TV on his iPad. He was obsessed with Breaking Bad, and wrote a lovely letter to Bryan Cranston extolling his acting; now, he likes watching Midsomer Murders, The Persuaders and Rosemary& Thyme.
We talk a bit about the #MeToo push. Hopkins says, about Harvey Weinstein,” I did know about the person you are referring to, about his sexual nonsense. I know he is a rude man and a oppressor. But I shunned him, I didn’t want anything to do with beings like that. Bullies .” And actually, despite his desire to live and let live, Hopkins often announces bullies out: when John Dexter, the director of M Butterfly, started shouting at everyone in the cast, 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 judge them, I won’t make fun of them at gives. It’s correct for women to stand 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 terrible, and we can all be kind. Fame and ability “ve got nothing” to do with it. I tell Hopkins something the singer Tony Bennett formerly said-” Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough”- and he is delighted.” How remarkable. What an amazing thing to say! You know, I meet young people, and they want to act and they want to be famed, 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 establishes me a image on his phone. It’s of him aged three, with his father on a beach near Aberavon. His dad is grinning. Hopkins is a cherubic babe, with golden scrolls, caught somewhere between giggling and crying.” I was unnerve because I’d sagged a cough sweetened .” He stops it because it reminds him of how far he’s come.
” I reckon,’ Good God, I should be in Port Talbot .’ Either dead, or working in my father’s bakery. For some inexplicable rationale I’m here, and nothing of it realise appreciation. 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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