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Why The Father is Anthony Hopkins’ triumph

Why The Father is Anthony Hopkins’ triumph

As The Father makes its debut on Channel 4 with an Oscar-winning performance from Anthony Hopkins, we look back at the great actor’s career

By Chris Miller, Feature Writer

Anthony Hopkins didn’t need a second Best Actor Oscar to cement his place as a genuine British acting legend. The Port Talbot-born thesp has a huge body of acting work that represents an incredible legacy – as well as a knighthood. However, he thoroughly deserved it for his role in The Father, which has its network premiere this Saturday on Channel 4.


Hopkins plays Anthony, a retired engineer living alone in his flat, who has been devastated by the ravages of dementia. Alternately aggressive and timid, reliant on carers but impatient with them, Anthony is losing the distinction between past and present. He clings to the certainty of his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman, Empire Of Light) – but it soon becomes clear that she has unwelcome news for him.


It’s an astonishing tour de force from Hopkins, who became the oldest ever Oscar winner at 83, in a performance that illuminates the sensitive and unexpectedly gripping script by director Florian Zeller (based on his play Le Père). He has delighted and terrified and moved us with his work over the years, and The Father is the crowning glory on a wonderful career – one that’s still going strong.


When is The Father on Channel 4?

You can see the network premiere of The Father on Saturday 2 December at 9pm on Channel 4 HD (CH 104/108). Here’s why it’s a must-watch film – plus some more highlights from Hopkins and where you can watch him on Virgin TV.


It puts the viewer inside its lead character’s head

Zeller and his co-writer Christopher Hampton use all the possibilities allowed by the script to let us see the world through Anthony’s eyes and, crucially, his scattered mind. We see conversations that didn’t happen, the confusion when new people enter his life, the perceived slights by those trying to help. The effect is hugely, disturbingly disorienting, and helps viewers empathise with Anthony.


It doesn’t romanticise dementia

The onscreen stereotype of the doddery older person, grinning benignly and occasionally saying something amusingly inappropriate, is absent. We see the harmful effect of the disease not only on Anthony but on those close to him. Anne, recovering from an emotional trauma in her own life, is held back from finding happiness by her fears for her father’s health.  


The supporting cast is stellar

Colman, an Oscar winner for 2018’s The Favourite, was nominated again for her performance here but the rest of the cast deserve huge credit, including Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Rufus Sewell (The Diplomat) as the younger men who (inadvertently?) intimidate Anthony, Imogen Poots (Outer Range) as his sympathetic carer Laura, and Olivia Williams (The Crown) as a mysterious woman who he mistakes for both Anne and Laura. We see their tolerance, their anxiety and even their impatience with Anthony, who means something different to all of them – and we see that he sees it too.


It shows Hopkins is nowhere near finished

The Father certainly doesn’t mark the end of Hopkins’ brilliant career – if anything, it’s given it a boost. In the coming weeks, we’ll see him in Zack Snyder’s new, big-budget sci-fi serial Rebel Moon on Netflix, followed by the cinema release of Second World War drama One Life in January. He’s also signed up to play a Roman Emperor in a major new TV series, Those About To Die. He may be 85 but we’d wager his late-career performances stand up against the many highlights he’s already given us.


Where can I watch Anthony Hopkins films?

Prime Video (Apps & Games > Prime Video)

  • The Bounty (1984)
  • The Road To Wellville (1994)
  • The World’s Fastest Indian (2005)
  • Fracture (2007)
  • Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (2015)
  • Go With Me (2015)
  • Misconduct (2016)
  • Where Are You (2021)
  • The Son (2022)


Netflix (Apps & Games > Netflix)

  • The Remains Of The Day (1993)
  • How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • Red 2 (2013)
  • Collide (2016)
  • The Two Popes (2019)
  • Rebel Moon Part One: A Child Of Fire (from Friday 22 December)


Disney+ (Apps & Games > Disney+)

  • The Edge (1997)
  • Bad Company (2002)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Hitchcock (2012)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Noah (2014)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)


Sky Cinema on demand

  • The Mask Of Zorro (1998)
  • Red 2 (2013)
  • Armageddon Time (2022)


ITVX (Apps & Games > ITVX)

  • Legends Of The Fall (1994)
  • Amistad (1997)
  • The World’s Fastest Indian (2005)



  • Amistad (1997)
  • Mission: Impossible II (uncredited role) (2000)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)



  • Hannibal (2001)
  • Red Dragon (2002)


BBC iPlayer (Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer

  • King Lear (2018)


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