The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Grumpy Hopkins grapples with Stain

Venice, Aug. 30 (Reuters): Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins grappled with racial identity and forbidden love on the Lido today in the moody new film The Human Stain, which staged its world premier at the 60th Venice Film Festival.

A grumpy Hopkins and Oscar-winning director Robert Benton turned up in the lagoon city for the debut, which received mixed reviews at its preview screening late yesterday.

“To work with Nicole and with Anthony… is like watching great performers in a high wire act. They take great risks and they pull it off,” said Benton, famed director of Kramer vs. Kramer and co-writer of Bonnie and Clyde.

Unfortunately for fans, Kidman’s only appearance was on the silver screen. The statuesque star was forced to cancel her trip to the world’s oldest cinema competition because of a tight filming schedule in the US. The Human Stain, based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, is an emotionally and ideologically charged picture about race, political correctness and desire in a rural college town.

“I think political correctness is a pain in the butt, and I’m not going to expand on it,” a combative Hopkins told a news conference today.

Hopkins, 65, portrays Coleman Silk, a disgraced university professor whose desires are re-awakened by Faunia (Kidman), a much younger, uneducated janitor with her own troubled past.

The scandalous affair offers Silk an opportunity to finally face up to his own secrets.

Hopkins, who received an Academy Award for his performance as the cannibal serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs, bluntly told journalists that this latest role was not one of his most challenging, but that it was “beautiful to work with” Kidman.

Benton said he chose to focus more on the emotional aspect of the film and less on the political aspect, which involves the evolution of racial prejudice and hypocrisy in the 1950s and present-day America.

The Human Stain is one of 145 films screening on the Lido during the 11-day festival, but is not among the 20 movies vying for the Golden Lion which will be awarded on September 6.

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