As one of Britain’s most beloved and prolific actors, Anthony Hopkins has led a career of unparalleled consistency. Like many of his celebrated peers, Hopkins was forged in the fires of William Shakespeare, honing his stage acting skills as part of the prestigious Royal National Theatre. Most notably, Hopkins portrayed the titular protagonist in the 1986 production of King Lear, his favourite play by the legendary Bard.
Hopkins remained heavily involved in theatre until the late 1980s, winning the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award in 1985 for his performance in the lauded David Hare play Pravda. The honour is all the more heartwarming in the knowledge that Hopkins was first recognised by and welcomed to the National Theatre by Olivier himself.
Hopkins’ major movie breakthrough came in the early 1990s when he won the ‘Best Actor’ Academy Award for his career-defining performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. He had previously enjoyed acclaimed roles in The Lion in Winter, A Bridge Too Far, and The Elephant Man, but this accolade opened the door to a prolific and universally applauded spell on screen.
As Hopkins traversed from stage to screen, he never lost touch with his roots in Shakespearean scripture. In a 2011 interview with The Telegraph, the diligent actor revealed that he would read new movie scripts anywhere between one hundred to two hundred times, fully memorising his and his castmates’ lines.
It, therefore, goes without saying that Hopkins is quite the reader. When he’s not scanning scripts hundreds of times over, Hopkins enjoys reading leisurely to keep his mind verbally lubricated. As a voracious reader, Hopkins’ shelves are undoubtedly splintering under immense pressure, but somehow, he has managed to pick out just six of his all-time favourites.
Taking The Complete Works of Shakespeare as gospel, especially King Lear, Hopkins sat down with BeliefNet in 2011 to discuss his six favourite books. Mostly compiling non-fictional, philosophical works, including those by Albert Einstein, Jacob Bronowski and Plato, Hopkins suggests a source for his
Intriguingly, Graham Greene’s Don Quixote-inspired novel, Monsignor Quixote, was the actor’s only fictional selection. “A wonderful book by Graham Greene, who is a powerful Catholic,” Hopkins said of the selection.
Ending his list on Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates, Hopkins added: “I’m certain that I’m not certain. Socrates was told he was the wisest man of all, and he said, ‘That’s impossible.’ He realised he knew nothing.”
See the full list of Hopkins’ favourite books below.
Anthony Hopkins’ favourite books:
- Letters and Papers From Prison – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- The Ascent of Man – Jacob Bronowski
- Ideas & Opinions – Albert Einstein
- Monsignor Quixote – Graham Greene
- God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens
- The Last Days of Socrates – Plato
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Anthony Hopkins picks out his six favourite books