“I don’t know much about anything,” he said, “except I know that what I do now is not of any importance, in the scheme of things.” At home with his wife, Stella, he pursues pleasures that have nothing to do with his acting career, whether it’s reading “Bleak House” on his iPad, practicing Brahms on the piano or letting the cat jump in his lap at lunchtime: “I feel at peace. I’ve lived a long life.”
Sometimes Stella will capture a moment of Zen and post it to his social-media accounts; a recent tweet of Hopkins in his backyard, half-smiling as the sun lit up his blue eyes, was captioned, “Stay present. One day at a time.” The tweet earned more than 134,000 likes. “I’m quite popular on it,” he said, eyes twinkling.
He will turn 83 on New Year’s Eve. “I know I’m getting old,” he said. “I take care of myself, I’m fit and strong. But there are no guarantees. Look at Sean Connery.”
Did the tragic contours of “The Father” prompt him to think back on his own life, or to mull how the past commingling with the present can really take your breath away? Sort of. When Hopkins recently rewatched the movie, all he could see in his performance was his own father, the tough old baker who passed away in 1981.
In fact, while shooting one particularly emotional scene near the film’s end, Hopkins began to weep. He asked the director Florian Zeller to give him some time to recover before shooting the next take — he knew he’d overplayed it, but he couldn’t help himself. His gaze had alighted on a simple prop, a pair of reading glasses, that reminded him of his late father.
“I’m going to get choked up thinking about it,” he said.
When his father died, Hopkins found in his room a similar pair of glasses sitting next to a road map of America. The baker’s plans to travel would never come to fruition. “It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “He worked hard all his life and finally, at the end, you think, ‘Well, that’s it.’ I remember standing there at his bed and thinking about myself, ‘You’re not so hot, either. There he is, and one day it will be you.’”