Anthony Hopkins is ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard. “For ‘Thor,'” he pointed out, “I don’t just play a father, I play the god-father.”
Work is underway on the fourth Marvel Studios film, and Hopkins said he is enthused about working with the cast that is led by Chris Hemsworth (who played the doomed father of James T. Kirk in “Star Trek“) as the Thunder God and Natalie Portman as his mortal love, Jane Foster.
Hopkins is taking on the role of Odin, ruler of Asgard and father of both the noble Thor and the nefarious Loki. The 72-year-old actor said it’s a meaty role for him and, like his role in “The Wolfman,” it allows him to test the tricky physics of paternal relationships.
“I’m very interested in that relationship between fathers and sons,” Hopkins said. “My father’s relationship with me was cold. He was a hot-blood character but to me, cold. When I was young, he expressed his disappointment because I was bad in school and all of that. He didn’t mean any harm, but I felt I could never meet up to his expectations.”
The morality tales and melodramas of Marvel Comics have a lot of fascinating fathers, and they have led to some memorable performances in Hollywood’s adaptations — Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn, William Hurt as Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross and Brian Cox as William Stryker spring to mind.
Hopkins, a native of Wales, has plenty of experience with sword scabbards and royal roles or antiquity. On that list of roles: He was Hrothgar in the Robert Zemeckis version of “Beowulf,” Titus Andronicus in the 1999 film “Titus” and, way back in 1968, he made his feature-film debut as Richard the Lionhearted in Anthony Harvey’s sublime “A Lion in Winter.”
He said he has high hopes for “Thor” ( “Kenneth Branagh is such a terrific director and a wonderful guy to work with”) especially because he finds a personal resonance in the Odin role.
“He’s a stern man. He’s a man with purpose. I play the god who banishes his son from the kingdom of Asgard because he screwed up. He’s a hot-headed, temperamental young man — probably a chip off of the old block — but I decide he’s not really ready to rule the future kingdom, so I banish him. I’m harsh and my wife complains and I say, ‘That is why I’m king.’ He’s ruthless, take-it-or-leave-it. Women are much more forgiving; men are not so forgiving. I know in my life, my karma is, ‘If you don’t like it, tough, move on.’ And I move on. I’m a little like Odin myself.”
— Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED
IMAGES: Top right, Odin and his thunder baby (Marvel Comics). Anthony Hopkins on the red carpet (Getty Images). Bottom, Hannibal Lecter behind bars. (MGM)