Anthony Hopkins stopped drinking at 37: ‘I have a choice, change or die, grow or go’

Do you know how much I love Anthony Hopkins? SO MUCH. He’s one of my favorites, and I wish he was in more movies. He’s gone into “retirement” several times in the past 15 years, but he always comes out of retirement when he’s offered either a good part or a good paycheck. He currently has a part in Red 2, with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren. He looks like he’s having fun, although I really don’t want to see that movie and the sequel was so unnecessary. So, Hopkins gave a lengthy and personal interview to the Daily Mail and I just felt like covering it, you know? Sometimes, I’ve had my fill of Kardashians and Middletons and I want to talk about an old guy who has a lot of interesting stuff to say. You can read the full interview here and here are some highlights:

He lives in Malibu where he paints, plays the piano, and walks on the beach: ‘I have a nice life. I am happy, whatever that means.’

He was bullied as a kid: ‘I was bullied as a boy – lots of kids are, but hopefully most of us get on with our lives and grow up. I was pathetic at school in Port Talbot. I don’t know if it was dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder, or just me being a problem child, but I sat in the back of the classroom and didn’t know what any of the teachers were talking about — I was bottom of the class at everything. And I was made to suffer. But in a way that was a great gift that life gave me, because in the end I was so angry and enraged that I made a certain choice in life. I thought: “I will get my revenge, I will become rich and famous and that will show them.”’

On discovering the acting bug: ‘But I tried acting, liked it, and stuck with it. I saw it as the way I would keep that promise to myself of getting back at those who had made my school life a misery. There are times when I wondered if I ever would, though. I have had three marriages and various set backs. Then there’s my bout with booze, which damn near killed me. But I came through all that.’

On his father: ‘My father wasn’t a cruel man,’ he says now carefully. ‘And I loved him. But he was a pretty tough character. His own father was even tougher — one of those Victorians, hard as iron — but my dad was tough enough. He was very frustrated in life, I think, he was a great storyteller and could have been an actor. But he was very disappointed in me.’

Seeing Richard Burton in person as a boy: ‘I remember it was in 1955 and I was helping my father with the bakery. I walked into this shop to deliver some bread, and as I came out, a grey car pulled up to make a turn to the main road, and it was him, it was Richard Burton. He’d just become a Hollywood star, and was a hero in South Wales as the local boy who made movies. And he looked at me, just glanced casually, and I looked back at him and our eyes met and I thought: “One day, I want to be like that.” ’

Booze & cigarettes: ‘When I used to drink like a fish I smoked my lungs out, too. I used to go out with my father and we’d both drink quite heavily. And there was a man at the pub we used to go to who was very clean-living, he smoked one cigarette a week, drank one glass of beer a week, and that was it, and one day he dropped dead — just like that — because of a brain haemorrhage. My father said to me: “Well, there you go. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke and — bam! — he’s gone. So let’s drink up and be merry.” But you have a certain choice in life. You come to a certain age, you think: “Well, I don’t think this is too smart to feed the fuel tank with all this junk, so I better slow down or stop.” ’

He stopped drinking just two days before his 38th birthday: ‘I just thought, “Well, I have a choice here. Change or die. Grow or go.” So I stopped doing certain things and I started doing certain others, and I’m glad I did. I see other people still carrying this monkey on their back, which is exactly what it is.’

His third marriage to Stella Arroyave: ‘She’s a wonderful woman who likes to spend money’ he says happily, ‘and even as I am sitting here talking to you, is out spending my money. It’s all gone, whoosh. But she’s very good for me, my wife, because she slows me down… She looks after me that way and she needs to, because my nature is to do things very fast because I have convinced myself that I am still 45 years old. I walk far too fast and I’m always falling over and she reminds me not to.’

He hates dinner parties: ‘We have people over for dinner sometimes and it’s pretty nice, but at the end of the meal, when you’ve said all you have to say, what do you do with them then? Stella does warn them. She says: “Tony’s very odd you know, he’ll get up and go to bed if he gets bored.” But what are you supposed to do? You sit around and you sit around and at the end of it, you think: “What the hell are we doing?” And I never hang out with actors, they’re the worst, they’ve got nothing to talk about but old movies.’

He still loves to work: ‘OK, I look in the mirror and go: “You are getting older, buddy,” but that’s the way it is. I’m just happy to be alive, you know? Alive and still working. And I love going in to work. The process of going through the day, putting on some clothes and having make-up dabbed onto you and then you go and do some acting . . . well, it beats real work, doesn’t it?’

[From The Daily Mail]

See? He’s interesting. He’s lived a long 75 years and he’s still standing, still relevant, still fascinating. I loved the Burton story and what Hopkins had to say about drinking. He really could have gone the way Burton went – which is to say, rampant alcoholism and an early death. I’m so happy Hopkins is still working, I just wish he would make better films these days. But I guess he needed a paycheck so his wife could still “spend his money”.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Anthony Hopkins stopped drinking at 37: ‘I have a choice, change or die, grow or go’”

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  1. paige says:

    THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN is a fantastic film-his best..see it

    • Jen says:

      Love, love, love that movie too. Those young British/Irish actors (O’Toole, Burton, Finney, etc.) and their boozing is legendary. Glad he came out alive and healthy, as did Finney and O’Toole who are thankfully still with us. All talented gentlemen.

  2. Ktx says:

    He’s one of my favorite actors. He has such a presence on the screen and exudes intelligence and sophistication.

  3. I Choose Me says:

    That quote about his wife spending his money kind of put my hackles up but I wasn’t there to hear his tone of voice or see his expression so I don’t know if he was just taking the piss or not. Anyway, I’ve always loved him as an actor and I wish him continued health and a long life so that he can continue to do what he loves to do and does so well.

    • Cherry says:

      Yeah, I was kind of struck by that, too. Also, does anybody else remember that a few years ago, this very same wife but him om a diet and let him walk on a treadmill for an hour a day? He lost so much weight then. Seems like he gained some of it back, though. Anyways- my point is, it looks like he likes to be treated like this, like a naughty boy who needs to be patronized a bit (“Tony’s very odd you know, he’ll get up and go to bed if he gets bored.”).
      Well he says he’s happy- so good for them. Is that his wife on the bottom pic? I remember her being Asian, and a lot younger than him.

    • UsedToBeLulu says:

      Actually, the interviewer used the descriptive ‘happily’. He happily said that she was out spending his money. Doesn’t read to me that he was taking a piss at all.

      • Emily C. says:

        I agree, it sounded like a joke to me.

      • Tig says:

        I think sometimes it helps to remember that folks on their 70s sometimes talk that way- it’s not disrespectful, rather that was their world view as they matured- the man made the money, and the wife spent it!

        He’s a joy to watch on screen- watch “Hitch” if you haven’t- he absolutely melts into that character.

        OT- there was a good book written within last year or so about the exploits of Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Rex Harrison. How any of them lasted as long as they did is a miracle! Wish I could remember title, but shouldn’t be too hard to discover.

  4. BooBooLaRue says:

    Miley, Biebs, Lindsay, et. al. take note.

  5. nc_magnolia says:

    I’m sure he was just being playful and ironic with the “spends my money” comment.

    *sigh* Love him. That is all.

  6. Lem says:

    Is that his family in the last picture? I have no idea?
    Sir Anthony features in many of my favorite films. He always gives an interesting, articulate interview. Although, I’m not sure I knew he lived in Malibu.

  7. Bijlee says:

    I am so with him on the dinner parties thing. Seriously, what are you supposed to do next????

  8. truthful says:

    Alright Sir Hopkins!!!

    one of my faves, true talent.

  9. nuzzybear says:

    Guess he eats the liver with fava beans and a nice pomegranate juice!

  10. Kristen says:

    Now THIS is the type of stuff I enjoy reading on Celebitchy. The Kardashians just rot my brain. They’re the gossip equivalent of junk food.

  11. UsedToBeLulu says:

    ♥ Anthony Hopkins. Thank you Kaiser (and Celebitchy) for the article! It is wonderful to read uplifting stuff here now and again.

  12. Mingy says:

    I just loved him in “you will meet a dark stranger”..such a great movie!

  13. TheOriginalKitten says:

    So much interesting stuff here.

    Not the same, but I’ve gone to bed a couple times at my own parties. Not drunk-passing-out but tired-passing-out (and maybe drunk a couple times too).
    As long as you don’t stop other guests from partying, I see nothing wrong with it.

    He seems like such an interesting guy, so different from most boring narcissistic actors.

  14. Legal Annie says:

    Doesn’t he have a male partner named Terry? I read that somewhere.

  15. Ginger says:

    Funny, I stopped drinking two days AFTER my birthday 3 years ago. It’s nice to hear from people like him who haven’t had a drink in 20+ 30+ years, etc. It’s inspiring. As for the comments about his wife, I’m sure his tone was joking even if there’s a ring of truth to it. I love the photo of he and Helen Mirren on the red carpet!

  16. Christin says:

    He channeled his childhood challenges into something positive. I once read that Andy Griffith was cruelly insulted by a little girl he liked in school, and that memory helped him give a great performance in his first big screen role with Patricia Neal. Anthony’s story reminds me of that and how good it is to not let others defeat you in life.

  17. elo says:

    I loved what he said about his wife. My grandpa always jokes that way about my grandma too, that she loves to spend his money.

  18. Jayna says:

    No, do you know how much I love Anthony Hopkins? I have watched Shadowlands so many times. I’ve loved all of his movies.

    I don’t leave my own guests, but I am very social to a point and then I get tired of noise and talking. I get a headache. I just want to go to bed. I went on a girls weekend (and one gay guy) to the Keys. All day at the beach talking, drinks. Dinner, more talking. Afterwards at our friend’s parents’ beachhouse where we were staying more drinks and talking. I just disappeared. I was bored with it all. They found me in my bed reading. I was never so happy. They went on for hours after that while I was cozy in my bed. I get you, Tony.

    All men make that comment about their wives shopping, spending all their money, at some point. It’s not meant to be mean. Men don’t get a woman’s love of shopping, even if the woman feels it’s not that much.

    • Emily C. says:

      I think it’s a generational thing. I’ve never dated a man who would say such a thing, and my husband certainly would not. My father once made one of his obnoxious “jokes” about how expensive I supposedly was and the guy I was dating at the time said, “no she isn’t.” My dad hasn’t said it since.

      Btw, I don’t like shopping. My dad, otoh, loves shopping for anything and everything. Loving shopping is not a secondary sexual characteristic of being female.

  19. Emily C. says:

    If guests are staying past the point where their host is tired, they’re being very bad guests. Go home, people.

    I was bullied as a kid too (like pretty much every American), but I can’t use it to fuel anything because I don’t give a damn about those people any more. They don’t mean anything to me. I’m glad Hopkins was able to use it to drive him. I’m not sure that’s healthy for most people, but it obviously worked for him.

  20. maggie says:

    I call BS on the drinking comment. He was in rehab two years ago with a friend of mine.

  21. CindyKennedy says:

    I did not even know Anthony Hopkins was married. When did that happen?

  22. Sojourner says:

    Thanks for doing this, one of the most interesting things I’ve read here.

    As a young adolescent I totally adored him as C.S. Lewis (my childhood hero) in Shadowlands. When I found out he was also Hannibal Lector, I was horrified and very turned off. Now I think it’s awesome he could do both things so well.

  23. Mew says:

    He’s just pure amazing. I’m so glad he stopped drinking, kept on living, and got into acting. He’s one of the greats.