The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hannibal’s nuts, says Hopkins

Rome, Oct. 17 (Reuters): If anyone thinks “Hannibal the Cannibal” is perhaps just a misunderstood guy because of an unusual taste in food, Anthony Hopkins wants them to digest the terrible truth.

“I think he's nuts, basically,” the British-born actor told a news conference on Tuesday ahead of the Italian premiere of the film Red Dragon, in which he plays the man-eating psychiatrist for the third time.

Hopkins said he had almost lost his appetite for the role after the 2001 film Hannibal, but had finally agreed to don the prison suit once more on condition he could really bare the doctor’s evil nature.

“I wanted to play him more dangerously, more savagely, not so charming as he was in Silence. Because he is, after all, a killer,” said the actor, who won an Oscar for his turn as Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs.

“I couldn’t reinvent him but I wanted to repress some of the clever witticisms, the sophistication... I wanted to show the audience, to reveal the nature of this diabolical, twisted mind, to show how dangerous he is.”

In Red Dragon, Edward Norton plays an FBI agent who uses his jailed nemesis, Lecter, to help him track down another serial killer, played by Ralph Fiennes. Harvey Keitel and Emily Watson also star. The film, directed by Brett Ratner, grossed $37.5 million at the US box office in its first weekend, setting a new record for a film opening in October, and its 10-day total rose to $63.2 million. Hopkins said while he enjoyed playing the psychopathic Lecter, he treated it as a job and felt no blurring between the cannibal’s personality and his own.

“I have breakfast in the morning, I change into my prison clothes, I have coffee, I go into my cell,” he said, describing life on the sets of the Hannibal movies.

“When they let me out of my cell I go and have another coffee, or maybe lunch with Ed Norton, or Jodie Foster (who co-starred in Silence). I don’t attack them.

“It’s all magic, a conjuring trick, hypnosis,” he said, adding he needed no secret recipe to sink his teeth into the role.

“All the information I need on any new script is in the script itself. I don’t need to sit in an asylum to be Hannibal Lecter.”

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