Sir Anthony Hopkins has paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman in a short video from the Welsh countryside, in which he expressed his surprise at winning this year’s best actor Oscar.
Unusually, the best actor winner was the final award of the always long ceremony this year, held, to allow better social distancing, at the Union railway station in Los Angeles.
Many assumed it was scheduled last because Boseman, who died in August, would win posthumously for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Instead Hopkins was named winner for his role in The Father and since he was not available to make an acceptance speech the evening ended abruptly.
On Monday, Hopkins posted a video on his Instagram page. Outside, framed by beautiful countryside, blue sky and the sound of birds singing, he said: “Good morning. Here I am in my homeland of Wales and at 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t. I’m very grateful to the Academy and thank you.
“I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman who was taken from us far too early and again thank you all very much. I really did not expect this. So, I feel very privileged and honoured … thank you.”
Hopkins was also unavailable for the Bafta film awards two weeks ago when his best actor award was accepted by Florian Zeller, writer of the original play and director of the film. The actor did however turn up virtually at the post-ceremony press conferences from his hotel in Wales.
This time it was understood that in the event of Hopkins winning, Olivia Colman, who played his daughter, would accept his award.
Instead Joaquin Phoenix announced Hopkins name, accepted on his behalf, and the show ended. The abruptness of it all sparked comparisons to to the ending of The Sopranos, which finished with Tony eating onion rings before the screen went black.
While it was a surprise that Hopkins won what was his second best actor Oscar, becoming the oldest recipient, the praise for his performance suggests it was not undeserved.
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said it was an entirely justified win. “Hopkins was devastating in this film, especially in its anguished final moments.”
The talk show host Stephen Colbert, interviewing Hopkins and Zeller on the Late Show, said it was not just Hopkins’ greatest performance but “it might be the greatest performance I’ve seen an actor commit to film”.
Hopkins, who lives in Los Angeles, is clearly enjoying what he has described as a “long vacation” in Wales, posting images of a trip to his old school, Cowbridge grammar school; and one of him on a wooden bench in the countryside (“Dydd Sul tawel gyda chariad … Serene Sunday with love”).
Another post shows a beaming Hopkins taking in the air alongside photographs from his childhood of him with his father in 1942 and mother in 1947.
A much more emotional post is from the grave of his father, Richard Hopkins, where the actor reads lines from Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night before not being able to continue … “it’s too painful”.