In the realm of Hollywood royalty, very few actors — if any — can hold a candle to Anthony Hopkins. Whether warming our hearts, stimulating our minds, or shaking us to the core, Hopkins has consistently given us one spellbinding performance after another, establishing himself as one of the most gifted actors of all time.
But while we’ve gotten to know the many sides of Hopkins’ genius through his hundreds of appearances onscreen, the man behind these iconic performances remains an enigma to even his most devoted fans. But now, after six decades in the business, the truth has emerged to show a brand new side of the legendary actor that not even he expected people to see.
Born 1937 in Port Talbot, Wales, to a working-class family, Hopkins didn’t exactly consider himself the sharpest tool in the shed. He had no interest in schoolwork as a child, preferring to spend his days drawing or playing piano.
His poor study habits led his parents to board him at Cowbridge Grammar School in The Vale, though it was here that he was inspired to pursue acting by fellow Welshman Richard Burton. Soon, he enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff.
Hopkins graduated in 1957, and after two years of national service in the British Army he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Before long, the young actor had cultivated a stage presence that had local repertories buzzing.
In 1960, Hopkins made his professional stage debut with Swansea Little Theatre’s production of Have a Cigarette. He was an immediate sensation, and after several years in repertory, he managed to catch the attention of one of Britain’s most famous thespians.
Laurence Olivier, who spotted Hopkins during a performance, was blown away by his acting ability and invited him to join the Royal National Theater in London. He became Olivier’s understudy, quickly gaining exposure and becoming a celebrated actor in his own right.
But Hopkins soon grew tired of the same roles day in and day out: he wanted new characters, ones he could bring to life and make uniquely his own. He turned his attention to film, landing his first starring role in the 1964 short Changes.
Though it wasn’t until 1968 that Hopkins got his big break, starring as Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter. This mainstream exposure opened new doors for the aspiring star, allowing him to pursue a film career full time.
AVCO Embassy Pictures
Hopkins enjoyed widespread popularity in Britain throughout the 1970s, starring in films like War and Peace (1972), Young Winston (1972), and A Bridge Too Far (1977). Yet Hopkins wanted to be more than just a British celebrity: he wanted to be a Hollywood star.
A move to the U.S. in the early ’80s kickstarted Hopkins’ transition to American films, landing him starring roles in The Elephant Man (1980), A Change of Seasons (1980), and The Bounty (1984). Yet despite these early successes, Hollywood proved to be far more fickle than he’d anticipated.
By the late ’80s, quality roles had become few and far between for Hopkins, leading him to return to Britain. He had all but given up on his Hollywood dreams at this point, though after being offered a rather unusual role, he decided to give it one last go.
The role was that of Hannibal Lecter, the brilliant cannibalistic serial killer in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Though not the director’s first choice for the character, Hopkins’ performance in The Elephant Man ultimately earned him the part.
This casting choice proved to be a godsend, as Hopkins helped Silence sweep the top five major categories at the Academy Awards. His iconic turn as Lecter was hailed as one of the greatest villain performances of all time, immediately serving to revitalize his career.
The ’90s saw Hopkins’ star in a slew of box-office hits, including The Remains of Day (1993), Shadowlands (1993), and Legends of the Fall (1994). By 1998, Hopkins was the highest paid British actor in the world.
In 2003, Hopkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and just three years later, he was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The British Film Academy also chose to honor Hopkins, granting him the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award in 2008.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr
Even in his 70s, Hopkins continued receiving prime roles left and right, appearing as Alfred Hitchcock in 2012’s Hitchcock and as Dr. Robert Ford in the HBO sci-fi series Westworld. He even played Odin, king of Asgard, in several Marvel superhero films.
Walt Disney Studios
In his later years, however, Hopkins has also set aside time to focus on his other artistic passions. A gifted painter, Hopkins’ social media channels are filled with images of his work, and he’s even showcased his paintings in major galleries around the world.
@anthonyhopkins / Instagram
Music has also played a large role in Hopkins’ life, as he’s composed dozens of works alongside his storied acting career. His song “Distant Star,” released as a single in 1986, actually reached No. 75 on the UK Singles Chart.
Other musicians have also performed some of Hopkins’ compositions, including famed Dutch violinist André Rieu. His 2011 album And the Waltz Goes On features a song of the same name that was actually composed by Hopkins at age 26, way back in 1964.
Govert de Roos
Acting, however, remains Hopkins’ first love, and his slate of projects for the 2020s is already an impressive one. And given that he’s already been nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Two Popes, the legendary actor is showing no signs of slowing down.
Yet regardless of what direction his career takes him in next, Hopkins will always be associated with The Silence of the Lambs and his award-winning co-star Jodie Foster. And just like Hopkins’ legendary career, Foster’s own rise to fame was also paved with its fair share of ups and downs.
Still, Foster is indisputable Hollywood royalty. With her iconic portrayals of snarky 12-year-old prostitute Iris in 1976’s Taxi Driver, and dedicated FBI agent Clarice Starling in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, she has proven her magnificent range as an actor.
But Foster didn’t conjure up these skills out of nowhere; she’s a seasoned performer. Born in 1962, Foster began acting at the age of three, first starring in television commercials. As you probably know, bigger things were to come.
After appearing in a few Disney films, Foster carried her own series in 1974, entitled Paper Moon, based on the 1973 film of the same name. Though the show was short-lived, film’s lord and savior Martin Scorsese would soon bless her with a role.
Scorsese put the freckly strawberry blonde in 1974’s dramedy Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Scorsese obviously took a liking to the budding thespian, as he made her one of the stars of 1976’s Taxi Driver. Things were starting to get serious for Foster career-wise.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Amazingly, Foster’s performance as Iris, a prepubescent call girl, in Taxi Driver earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. The chemistry between her and Robert De Niro beguiled the world, despite its weird context.
“Scorsese would say something like ‘unzip his fly’ and just start laughing and not know what to do so he would hand it over to Robert De Niro and then Robert would tell me what to do,” she told Graham Norton in 2016 of her uncomfortable performance alongside an adult De Niro.
Though she went on to do other films in her teen years, such as Candleshoe, her role in Taxi Driver was the most prominent of her career. Yet Foster never made acting her entire life, as the brainy lady graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1985.
The tomboyish actor had an impressive portfolio under her belt, but she still had to transition to adult roles after her college days. Naturally, Foster handled this like a pro, considering she nabbed an Oscar nom as a mere teenager.
Come 1988, she stunned in The Accused, portraying Sarah Tobias, a rape victim searching for justice. When 1991 rolled around, Foster took on the lead in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, arguably her most iconic project to date. She won Academy Awards for both of these roles.
Foster was the Queen of Hollywood in the ’90s, her modesty, intelligence, and charm having enchanted the world. She reached the height of fame and critical acclaim, which gave her the freedom to pursue more personally motivated projects… in the director’s chair.
She made her directorial debut in 1991 with the family drama Little Man Tate (which she also starred in). She later directed the 1995 ensemble film Home for the Holidays and produced a slew of other movies, including 1994’s Nell, for which she also acquired an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination.
Little Man Tate
Foster wasn’t weaning off acting, however, as she knocked out impressive portrayals in blockbuster hits like 1997’s Contact, and 2002’s Panic Room. But her heart wanted to chase directing.
And chase it she did. While most people know Foster for her well-received acting career, Foster has spent much time behind the camera as well, even winning the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2013, which is granted for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”
By the time she was 56, Foster was pickier when it came to choosing acting roles. Noticeably, most of the characters she’s embodied over the years have been strong women, which is wonderful. But these days, that’s not enough for Foster.
While chatting with Conan O’Brien in 2016, Foster said “I made a decision. I used to act 90 percent of the time and direct 10 percent of the time.” Nowadays, she aims to do the exact opposite.
More recently, Foster has directed the “Arkangel” episode of acclaimed sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror, as well as the 2016 crime movie Money Monster, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. So what would it take for her to take on another acting role?
Foster told Conan that she’d likely inquire into a deeply challenging role. “I want to enjoy myself. I’ve never had to learn how to do anything hard. I’d like to learn how to be a javelin thrower, or play violin or speak Italian,” she said.
“I’d like to be good at something, I’m not really good at anything,” Foster continued. With a grin on his face, the goofy Conan replied “You’re going to get all these roles for being an eye surgeon and you’re going to disappear for two years and come back an eye surgeon.”
“I’d just like to be an expert at something that’s useful, then I’d like to stop doing it and never do it again,” she laughably responded. Foster is extremely grateful for her past acting endeavors, however.
The Silence of the Lambs
Foster told The Hollywood Reporter that acting is “the best film school ever” for the hopeful directors out there, as actors “get to be inside a scene and understand why a scene works or why it doesn’t,” she explained.
With her laundry list of achievements, Jodie knows what she’s talking about. This child star turned wise entertainment veteran has been a notable face in the industry for decades; and whether it be in front of the camera, or behind it, we can’t wait to see what more she has in store for us.
Though acting previously defined her career, by now, Foster has a meaty resume of directing experience. But learning has no expiration date, as even Foster can take a few notes from, one of the founding fathers of directing.
As the director of over fifty feature films, Alfred Hitchcock rightfully earned the title Master of Suspense. But how did he manage to craft so many terrifying masterpieces? Well, he once said, “The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.”
Born in 1899, shy little Alfred often ran errands for his family’s store in London. But one trip ended in terror: A patrolling constable, falsely identifying him as a vagrant, tossed the boy in a cell. Alfred got out hours later, though a fear of mistaken identity plagued him forever.
When World War I erupted, Alfred felt an urge to serve even though he was too young to enlist. He joined the Royal Engineers as a cadet, which put him through years of military training. In his free time, he began sketching and jotting down short stories.
As peace resumed, Alfred turned his eye to the film industry. Though he had an impressive portfolio of written stories and drawings, he learned no studio would hand him a movie camera. Alfred would have to work his way up.
Fortunately, his artistic skills made him quite valuable in the age of silent film, as movies had to insert pictures to convey certain bits of information. In 1920, Alfred landed a job as a title card illustrator for Paramount Pictures’ newly opened London branch.
Hitchcock rose up the ranks, trying his hand at just about everything. After stepping in to save a number of troubled productions, the studio finally gave him leeway to helm his own film — with the help of someone who’d blossom into his favorite collaborator.
Alfred noticed Alma Reville, a studio “script girl,” in passing before, though it wasn’t until they wound up on the same project that they fell hopelessly in love. They married in 1926, right as both their careers were taking off.
Unlike many other directors, Hitchcock easily transitioned from silent film to talkies. Audiences couldn’t get enough of his pulse-pounding thriller movies. In spite of his success, however, Alfred couldn’t help but wonder if England was boxing him in.
He suspected that if he really wanted to become an all-time great, he had to go to Hollywood. As luck would have it, American film executives were scrambling to hire him. So, in 1940, Alfred, Alma, and their daughter Pat made the move out to California.
Reddit / jecinci
With a mountain full of promises, influential producer David. O Selznick signed Hitchcock to a seven-year contract. Soon, the director found that budgets came in smaller than expected, and the studio criticized some creative choices.
But Hitchcock did his best under the circumstances. His stature grew with every film, while he also developed his signature visual style and habit of cameoing in nearly every movie. After conquering the box office, what he desired most was an Oscar.
His best bet was with Rebecca, which snagged 11 nominations at the Academy Awards. That night proved infuriating for Hitchcock. His spirits drooped when he lost Best Director. Then, when they won Best Picture, Selznick alone went up to claim the award.
From then on, Hitchcock eagerly looked forward to the day his Selznick contract expired. He would make movies his own way, partnering with studios who knew to stay out of his way. Granted, he did have some unorthodox methods.
It was curious that A-listers like Cary Grant were eager to work with Alfred again and again. The director held the opinion that “actors should be treated like cattle.” He’d often pull pranks, like sending them boxes of mice, to elicit genuine fear.
Still, collaborators and audiences alike appreciated his twisted sense of humor. During the ’50s and ’60s, he showed off his dark jokes while hosting the TV anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It also helped make Hitchcock more popular than ever.
Still, Hitchcock couldn’t snag that Oscar. He released four classics starring Jimmy Stewart — Rope, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo — but later refused to cast Stewart after each project fell short.
In 1960, Alfred went all-out with the controversial horror flick Psycho. The director bought up tons of copies of the original novel to keep his twist ending a secret. However, it’s controversial gore and gender-bending divided critics at the time.
Even in his 70s, Hitchcock didn’t slow down. He borderline tortured the cast of The Birds, and one accident nearly costed actress Tippi Hedren an eye. The nightmare production at least resulted in a huge success and got Alfred to admit a huge bird-related fear.
Twitter / MIS
It turns out the auteur of murder, crime, and heartbreak had a very banal phobia: eggs. After describing blood as jolly and red, he asked a reporter, “have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?”
Hitchcock never got his directing Oscar, but he did receive an achievement award in 1968. His entire acceptance speech was “Thank you very much indeed.” However, another high honor soon came around, and it was one he never expected — a twist, if you will.
In 1980, the filmmaker’s native England bestowed him with the highest distinction. They knighted him, though he was in too poor of health to travel to London himself. Sir Alfred Hitchcock died of kidney failure just months later.
Mystery and suspense drove Hitchcock’s films, but most important to their success was that they felt real, playing on anxieties true to life. In fact, just as the filmmaker passed, a certain Hollywood A-lister’s life took a Hitchcockian turn.
Looking at her humble origins, nobody could’ve predicted that Natalie Wood would become one of the biggest stars in the world. Of course, no one could’ve predicted she would vanish so suddenly either.
She was born Natalia Zakharenko in San Francisco in 1938 to Russian parents. Her father worked as a laborer while her mother had aspirations of stardom. With their meager finances, her dreams of seeing her name in lights never came true.
Natalia developed a fascination with cinema, and her mother brought her to the theater as often as she could manage. Soon enough, the two of them started hanging around movie sets, and one day some crew members took notice of young Natalia.
She started landing small film roles at age five. But what really set her apart from other aspiring child stars was the 1947 Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street. Now going by Natalie Wood, she saw other roles come flooding in.
Unlike other child performers who have careers that burn out in a year or two, Natalie gracefully transitioned into more adult roles. She showed real depth in juicy parts like Judy, James Dean’s love interest in Rebel Without a Cause.
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Natalie also shimmered as Maria in West Side Story, even though she didn’t do her own singing. Critics began to view her as a muse for teenage rebelliousness, and the good reviews really paid off.
By the time she turned 25, Natalie had received three Oscar nominations. She seemingly had nowhere to go but up, and every household in America knew her name. But at the same time, she made as many headlines for her personal life as she did for her career.
The beautiful young Natalie rotated through some of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors. For a short time, she even dated Elvis Presley, but they split before she could become queen to the King of Rock and Roll.
But at age 19, Natalie tied the knot with leading man Robert Wagner. Her mother thoroughly opposed the marriage, and Natalie finally relented in 1962. She and Robert divorced, though they hadn’t seen the last of each other.
As her film career continued to prosper, Natalie fell in love with producer Richard Gregson. They wed in 1969. Though she remained one of the biggest stars in the world, big changes for Natalie were on the horizon.
Her whole world changed when she brought her daughter Natasha into the world. Wanting to make motherhood a top priority, she announced her semi-retirement from show business.
Even after she divorced Richard, Natalie only handpicked projects here and there, particularly in the realm of made-for-TV films. She impressed critics in this budding format, and her success brought her back in the orbit of an old collaborator.
Though she rejected some huge starring roles, she wound up cast on projects with ex-husband Robert Wagner. They rekindled their flame before too long, and Natalie ended up marrying him for a second time in 1972.
But this second chance wasn’t all smooth sailing. Natalie and Robert bickered, and rumors of infidelity floated around. Still, they hoped a weekend cruise on Robert’s yacht would ease their troubles. They had some interesting company aboard the Splendour too.
NY Daily News
Natalie was in the middle of shooting a sci-fi flick called Brainstorm, and her co-star Christopher Walken joined the couple on the getaway. They apparently flirted, which only caused tempers to flare.
On that November night in 1981, Robert and Natalie had a tense argument — fueled by jealousy and alcohol — before splitting off to different parts of the vessel. By the time the other yacht passengers decided to turn in, nobody could find Natalie.
There was simply no trace of her. The yacht goers questioned whether or not they heard a woman scream in the night, but nobody could quite confirm it. Left with no other option, they called the police for assistance.
Hours later, authorities located the body of Natalie Wood. She was just 43. As fans and colleagues paid tribute to her, questions swirled around her death. The coroner ruled it an accidental drowning, though others weren’t so sure.
For one thing, Natalie’s younger sister Lana said she had a severe phobia of the water. Natalie never would’ve gone for a midnight swim, so, she concluded, she must have either fallen in or been pushed. She also got a few bruises on her tumble off the yacht.
Wagner’s behavior was also peculiar. He often refused to cooperate with investigators and instructed the yacht’s captain to withhold information about that night. He never faced any official charges of wrongdoing, though authorities did name him a “person of interest” in 2018 when they reopened the case.
However, Walken was adamant that he didn’t see anything suspicious that night. In his sparse comments on Natalie’s death, he shared his belief that a tragic accident befell her. Walken has never cast suspicions on Robert Wagner, his would-be rival.
Known evidence still cannot fully explain what happened to Natalie Wood. Perhaps we will never know. As tragic as her ending may be, her legacy is firmly cemented in Hollywood. She posthumously received a star on the Walk of Fame in 1986.
Ultimately, she’s best remembered as the little Russian girl who morphed into a star. Public interest in her mysterious death is still going strong today; maybe devoted fans searching for answers can take inspiration from a solved Hollywood crime…
Actor Dylan McDermott might be a household name, but that wasn’t always the case. Once he was just a little boy growing up in a troubled home. But instead of focusing on his dark past, Dylan put his heart and soul into his dream of becoming an actor.
Dylan was born in the quiet town of Waterbury, Connecticut, on October 26, 1961. Like so many other youngsters growing up, he saw his idols on the big screen and had dreams of following in their footsteps and becoming a famous movie star.
When Dylan was 15, that dream finally started to come true. His parents split when he was young, and his father, Richard, married the playwright Eve Ensler, who was known for her play The Vagina Monologues. She began scripting roles for the teenager—then known as Mark—in her own original productions.
Even though she was only a few years older than Dylan, Eve happily adopted him when she married his father. Though the couple would eventually divorce, Dylan and Eve were so close that, when she miscarried a son, he took on the name “Dylan,” which Eve had planned to give to her unborn child.
Eve’s support of her adoptive son helped him thrive. He scored a major coup appearing in the film Twister in 1989, and in 1999 he won a Golden Globe Award for his appearance in the popular TV series The Practice. But none of these successes could erase the memories of his dark past…
Before Dylan moved in with his father, he’d lived with his mother, Diane. Diane was just 15 when he was born, and Richard was two years older. After Richard left her, Diane moved into a house with John Sponza, a well-established figure in local organized crime.
From a very young age, John had a criminal bent. He was arrested for the first time when he was 15, and he was rumored to have once shot a man who crossed him in the face. But because his father was a police officer, John managed to avoid prosecution.
Life with John was not easy for Dylan. The man regularly hurled verbal abuse his way and terrorized his mother, both emotionally and with physical abuse. Diane was simply too frightened to take her son and leave.
Diane tried to comfort Dylan and keep him safe from John. When the violence continued to escalate, Diane threatened him, saying that her ex-husband—Dylan’s father—had spent time in jail and wouldn’t mind putting John in his place.
On February 9, 1967, John told Dylan—who was just five years old—to go outside in the frigid weather. Dylan wasn’t wearing a warm coat, but he was scared, so he did as he was told. Once he was outside, he heard a sound that he would never forget: a gunshot.
Even though Dylan saw his mother removed from the house on a stretcher and put into an ambulance, he didn’t understand that she was dead. His grandmother kept the truth from him and his younger sister for over a year.
While Dylan might not have known the truth, the police were already investigating and they thought John’s story was suspicious. John originally claimed that Diane touched the pistol he was cleaning and that it went off, killing her accidentally in the kitchen.
Then John’s story began to change. He claimed that Diane took his gun and went into the garage deliberately to take her own life. However, the forensics team said that the point of entry for the bullet proved that couldn’t have been the case…
However, in spite of their suspicions, no charges were ever filed against John. For more than four decades, Diane’s death was recorded as having been the result of an accidental shooting.
For the next 40 years, Dylan worked hard to make his Hollywood dreams come true. After being raised by his grandmother, he finally reconnected with his father and, in turn, with Eve. But he never forgot about his mother…
In order to survive and thrive in Hollywood, Dylan had to push down the memories of losing his mother so violently. However, in 2011, he finally felt ready to confront these tragic memories.
Dylan got in touch with authorities in his old hometown and told them he still had questions about his mother’s death. Three detectives agreed to reopen the cold case; that was when they quickly discovered that something just wasn’t right…
The investigators learned that the original case files were missing. They wanted to interview John again, but they couldn’t—in 1972, he’d been murdered and his body was left in the trunk of a car.
Dylan and the investigators weren’t about to let the case go unsolved, however. The police conducted more interviews and scoured old press reports from the time of the murder. Armed with new information, they were able to finally give Dylan and his family peace for the first time: they determined that John, indeed, killed Diane.
Of course, John would never face a trial for his actions. But the fact that the case was solved—and that John received his own sort of karmic punishment—was the closure that Dylan needed to help him return to his life as a happily married father and actor.