Anthony Hopkins Discusses The Rite and How to Scare an Audience
01.27.11 by Ryan
Anthony Hopkins has two movies opening in 2011. One is the big-budget, comic book adaptation of Thor, the other the horror movie The Rite, which follows an American seminary student (Colin O'Donoghue) who is sent to Rome to study in the Vatican's secret exorcism school where he is tutored by an elder priest, played by Hopkins. While his resume isn't devoid of horror movies, The Rite still seems like an unusual choice for Hopkins, who admitted to HitFix that he was initially skeptical of the project.
There was [hesitation] at the beginning. My agent sent me the script and I didn't know much about it but I thought I didn't want to play another spooky guy, you know? I wasn't sure and I was in the middle of doing Thor when this came up. I'm not sure what...over a year ago and I wasn't quite sure whether I really wanted to do anything like this. And then I read the script and then I met [director] Mikael Håfström at the hotel up the road here. We had breakfast and I was pretty impressed by him. He seemed a very nice guy, very intelligent guy. And I'd seen one or two of his films. So I said yes, and then he went back to England and I started working on the part and reading it and working on it.
Hopkins' Academy Award-winning performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs certainly proved the actor is adept at scaring audiences, though Hopkins admits he has "a knack" for knowing what's scary.
I think we all flirt with chaos. We all go to the dark movie theater to get ourselves a scare. It's like, if you're an alcoholic or a drug addict or something, we flirt with death. We pull ourselves to the brink of destruction and if we're lucky we pull ourselves back. We all have that in us. Whether it's overeating or it's overworking or over-sex or whatever it is, alcoholism, drug addition. We push ourselves to the brink and then pull back because it’s kind of exciting. But that's all I know. I just know how to scare people. I don't know how I do it, but it's a look — it's a trick I guess. I think you deaden the eyes. I know it scares because I know...I can sense inside what it does.
I know what is scary because that's what I do and not because I'm like that. For a long time I sort of had a sneaky little grumble of 'oh, I'll never get over Hannibal Lecter," you know? And then I saw the posters and people and they said, well it sold so if it does the trick then fine.
The Rite opens January 28. Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, and Rutger Hauer co-star.