In an exclusive interview with MTV News, Hopkins — who wrote, directed and composed “Slipstream” — describes how he views the film, his issues with California new-agers and the skinny on his upcoming biopic of legendary auteur Alfred Hitchcock.
MTV: “Slipstream” has been characterized as an “experimental movie.” Would you agree with that?
AH: Yeah, somebody described it at Sundance as “Salvador Dali on speed.” I think it was Dennis Hopper, in fact. This film is a little act of rebellion, because I got bored with my own life, being an actor. I’ve made some good films and I’ve made some pretty bad films. I’m going to be 70 at the end of the year, so I wanted to do something different. So I said I know, I’ll do a thumbnail sketch of my own life but I’ll put it in this kind of form. It wasn’t that conscious when I did it, but looking back on it, that’s what it was.
MTV: Are there any characters in particular that are most autobiographical?
AH: Well, I’ve worked with people and producers like Joe Levine, and I wrote the part for Harvey Weinstein who’s quite a character. But it’s based on Joe Levine, who’s dead and gone now. But Joe was a mighty guy. “Mighty Joe” they used to call him…he had a big voice and could scare people, although he was very charming guy. He’d come out of the slums of Boston, and he was like P.T. Barnum. But my Bonhoeffer, that’s actually me. That’s my take on life.
When Bonhoeffer’s in the cafe listening to karma and new age stuff, that’s me because I look at people when they’re talking and think, I don’t know what they’re talking about. I know they’re trying to make sense, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I have running through my mind when I hear all this California new age stuff, “You think that’s the world? That’s not reality. There’s a big uglier reality underneath it all.” But we incorporate all the dark and the light in ourselves in our lives, and I think we possess all that anyway. And I’m more interested in the subconscious mind and the dream world.
MTV: When you’re choosing roles for yourself, do you try to pick the ones that have this concept of straddling fiction and reality?
AH: Not really. I know I’m notorious for playing villains like Hannibal Lector, but not really. I just go for the scripts that are really good, but I’m not looking for scripts because I’ve done enough in my life. I love working as an actor and I like actors, but this film is really a lighthearted reminder to all actors — including myself — not to take it all too seriously.
MTV: You’re doing “The Wolf Man” with Benicio Del Toro, but there’s also a certain biopic that’s been rumored.
AH: [Yeah], I’m going on to do a movie about Hitchcock and the making of “Psycho.”
MTV: Did you ever meet Hitchcock?
AH: Yes, I did once briefly in Los Angeles just before he died. Hitchcock was very ill and overweight. I think he drank a little brandy now and again. But he was an extraordinary man and I just shook hands with him briefly.
MTV: Have you already worked out how you’re going to approach the role?
AH: Well, I’m watching the Hitchcock series that he did on television. He had a great wicked sense of humor. Someone asked once, “Why do you think people like frightening movies?” And he said, ” What’s the first thing you do to a baby when you see a baby…you go ’Boo!'” And he said what a most frightening thing for you to go into my bedroom and see a clown sitting in the bottom of my bed.” I mean he was a very odd man, but a great, great moviemaker and wacko.
I mean one of my favorite movies is “Rear Window.” The wit in there, between James Stewart and Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter. It was a great, very witty movie.
MTV: So the plan is to make an entire movie about Hitchcock making “Psycho”?
AH: Yeah, it starts off — Ryan Murphy’s making it, the guy who did “Running With Scissors” — and it starts off in a Wisconsin field with the man Gaines — the man who killed his own brother and kept his mother’s body in the closet — it starts off these two brothers digging in the soil around this place on the farm, and one says to the Gaines guy, “You’re just a mommy’s boy.” And suddenly this shovel hits him on the back of the head, BANG, and kills him. The camera pans to Hitchcock standing there in the middle of the field having a cup of tea, “Good evening. I hope you didn’t miss that shot. Without that we wouldn’t have a film.” And that’s how it starts. (Click here to watch the video of Hopkins acting out the scene)
MTV: As a fan of Hitchcock, it must be a thrill to play him.
AH: Oh, god. What a director he was. My favorite films are really “Rear Window,” “Vertigo” and “Psycho.” Fantastic. And “North by Northwest.” And some of the early ones, like “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “The Wrong Man,” and going back to the 30s with “Rebecca,” which he did with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.