LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three decades after Anthony Hopkins’ chilling portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lecter earned a lead-actor Oscar, the role of a man fighting dementia brought him his second trophy.
Despite his pedigree, Hopkins was a surprise winner in the top acting category.
The late Chadwick Boseman was widely expected to win the honor, which in a very rare move by the film academy was the last to be handed out this year instead of the usual ceremony-capping best picture.
Boseman was nominated for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” his final film before cancer claimed his life last August at age 43. The “Black Panther” star had been diagnosed with the disease four years earlier and kept it private as he continued working.
Hopkins’ win was also anticlimactic on a show where he wasn’t present to accept the trophy. Presenter Joaquin Phoenix’s reading of his name was the last dramatic moment of a most unusual ceremony.
Hopkins, 83, became the oldest actor or actress to win an Oscar, edging out Christopher Plummer’s supporting-actor win at age 82 in the 2010 film “Beginners.” Plummer, who died in February at 91, earned an Oscar nod at age 88 for “All the Money in the World,” an achievement that stands.
Hopkins has received four other Oscar nominations, including last year for his role as Benedict in “The Two Popes”; as the eponymous president in “Nixon”; John Quincy Adams in the slavery drama “Amistad,” and a loyal butler in “The Remains of the Day.”
In a 2016 interview with The Associated Press, Hopkins said an acting career wasn’t in the plan.
“I wanted to be a musician, but I drifted into this business by mistake,” he said. “I’m still looking over my shoulder thinking somebody will say, ‘Sorry, Tony, you’re in the wrong business.’”
Hopkins, who started in the theater but found it ill-fitting, focused on movie roles after getting his screen break playing Richard the Lionheart in “The Lion in Winter” in 1968.
In 2000, he became a U.S. citizen. He’d been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993, giving him the right to use ″Sir″ before his name.
In Associated Press writer Jake Coyle’s review of “The Father,” he called it riveting “to see Hopkins play all these ever-fluctuating turns of mood. … For an actor so intense, so rigorously unsentimental, this is his Lear.”
Besides Boseman, the other nominees were Riz Ahmed, Gary Oldman and Steven Yeun.