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Sir Anthony's back in the saddle with a need for speed; Cinema THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN (12A).

Byline: PAUL ALLEN

OSCAR winner Sir Anthony Hopkins insists he is a born beach bum.

He might be one of the most successful actors in the world today, but likes nothing more than hanging out at his Malibu home with wife Stella.

"I'm a beach bum at heart," he laughs. "I love the life I have. I love the open air. And the funny thing is that by relaxing and taking life more easily I enjoy what I do."

But the Welsh-born star says his latest movie, a relatively low-budget affair called The World's Fastest Indian, has brought him the biggest joy of his acting career so far.

"It really was the best film experience I've ever had," he says enthusiastically. "It was so enjoyable because it was such an outdoor, open-air movie and I play a character with a sunny disposition. I liked his philosophy of life."

He stars as New Zealander Burt Munro who, at the age of 68, risked everything to take his classic 1920 Indian motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, in an attempt to break the world speed record.

But although Anthony relished the role, it did leave him a little saddle sore. "I haven't been on a motorbike in years. The last time was when I did National Service, in the army," he explains, grimacing. "So when I got on this one I had to go back to basics, like how to get on it and how to start it. It was really uncomfortable."

The 68-year-old, who made his big screen debut four decades ago alongside Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter and has gone on to appear in almost 100 films, says he had never come across a character like Burt Munro.

"I instantly wanted to play him, because he had tremendous courage. I think he was scared but just thought, 'To hell with it, we're going to die one day, so I might as well take my chances'," he explains.

Getting under the skin of such a vibrant and daring man gave the star a renewed vigour for acting. He's made no secret of the fact he hasn't always enjoyed his profession in the past. He battled a serious alcohol problem in his 20s but has rarely been out of work.

He proved he was still at the top of his game with his Oscar-winning performance in The Silence of the Lambs - a film he now looks back on as life-changing.

"That film put me in a new category I guess," he reflects. "From then on I have enjoyed more doing what I do. I loved The Remains of the Day, Shadowlands and Nixon, which all came along afterwards."

But he insists there'll be no more psychopaths. "I've had a good time playing weird guys and all the others," he says with a laugh. "But after a while you really do want to get away from that type."

StarFacts

Real name: Philip Anthony Hopkins.

Birth date: December 31, 1937.

Significant other: Third wife, antiques dealer Stella Arroyave.

Career high: Giving cannibals a good name with hisOscar-winning turn as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence ofthe Lambs.

Career low: Nominated for Worst Actor for the 1980film Change of Season in the very first Razzie Awards.

Famous for: Being the second most successful actor to come out of Port Talbot - after Richard Burton.

Words of wisdom: On acting: "There's nothing special. It's not brain surgery."

CAPTION(S):

CHARM... Sir Anthony as Burt Monro in The World's Fastest Indian (12A)' COURAGEOUS... Sir Anthony (above) as Burt Monro in The World's Fastest Indian (12A) and (top, from left) scenes from The Remains of the Day, Silence of the Lambs, Meet Joe Black and Nixon.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 10, 2006
Words:620
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