Wailing in the hillsides as Hopkins becomes American

Uneasy murmurings rumbled through the Welsh Valleys yesterday in response to the news that one of the country's most celebrated heroes has become an American.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, star of The Silence of the Lambs, finally confirmed his long-term love affair with America by becoming a US citizen, forfeiting the right to use his title in his adopted country. But people in his home town of Port Talbot accused him of "forgetting his roots", and there was even a call for him to be stripped of the honour he was granted by being made a Freeman of the Borough.

Hopkins pledged allegiance to the US during a small ceremony at the Federal Building in Los Angeles, entering as a British Welshman and leaving as an American Welshman.

From now on he will be known as plain old Anthony Hopkins, as he was before his knighthood in 1993.

In addition to swearing to bear arms for the United States if called upon to do so, he was required to recite the words: "I further renounce the title of nobility which I have heretofore belonged."

Hopkins, 62, arrived at the courthouse accompanied by his mother and his girlfriend, Francine Kay. Several showbusiness friends turned up as witnesses, including the director Steven Spielberg, and his wife, Kate Capshaw, as well as the movie producer Paula Wagner. Hopkins' US spokeswoman, Catherine Olim, said: "He has been here a long time and it seems like the right thing to do. Anthony is very happy about the citizenship. However I have no comment to make about the knighthood."

Hopkins grew up in the area of Port Talbot called Tai Bach - Welsh for "little houses".Daniel Davies, 59, a local factory worker, said the actor had become "too big for his boots". He added: "It is disgraceful that he should forget his Welsh roots." The Tai Bach postmaster, Asghar Ali, 45, said: "Some people in this village are fighting for survival and hoped for some support from Sir Anthony. He is always harping on about his Welshness but when the chips are down he decides to go away."