I guess I didn’t even think about it, but it’s sort of crazy that “Thor” marks the first collaboration for Sir Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh.
It seems like that would have happened already, right? I mean, Hopkins is one of our finest actors, and with his credits and his incredible voice, how is it that he didn’t end up in any of Branagh’s Shakespeare adaptations? Or in any of his stage productions? How did it take Marvel Studios to end up bringing these two together?
When I sat down with Sir Hopkins last Saturday, it was the very end of a long press day for him, and while I think he was definitely ready to be finished and worn out, he was still joking and gossiping with the camera crew and the lighting guys, and they all seemed to be genuinely enjoying their afternoon with him. He always strikes me as having some private joke playing in his head whenever I see him at an event like this or speak with him. He seems bemused by the whole circus, and he rarely seems to take this part of it all too seriously.
On the other hand, he seems to be enjoying the simple details of the work he does more and more, and when you talk craft with him, you’ll have a good conversation. It’s inevitable. He’s simply done too much and seen too much and he has so much experience to impart, and it seems like the slightest provocation will lead to a great and rollicking chat about any number of subjects.
This is a short conversation, a typical five-minute TV spot, but even so, it felt like we covered some real ground. My favorite part of all of this was when I asked him about coming back for another movie, and he seemed genuinely surprised to hear that there was still room for a return of Odin in the mythology of the Marvel universe, and excited once he realized it was an option.
It probably would have been cheaper to cast someone lesser known as Odin, and considering how much screen time he has in the movie, Marvel wouldn’t have been faulted for taking the easy way out. But one of the key moments in the movie happens between Hopkins and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and if that moment doesn’t work, nothing else in the film matters. You hire Hopkins because you know he’ll crush that moment. You hire him because you know he’ll elevate the material and make Hemsworth play up to him.
And in this case, you get what you paid for. Hopkins is a true pleasure in the film, and in person as well.
“Thor” opens in theaters nationwide this Friday.