Not content with an Oscar-winning career playing characters from the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter to Richard Nixon, Sir Anthony Hopkins has revealed his talents as a concert pianist, and is preparing to embark on a world tour.
In a series of shows to be performed in cities across the world, Hopkins will be taking centre stage on the piano, playing music that he has composed himself. The actor will be accompanied by an orchestra, and will narrate stories over the music.
Hopkins, whose film roles include Adolf Hitler, Pablo Picasso and Quasimodo, will also tell anecdotes from his film career.
Despite having performed in more than 70 films, this is not the first time he has found time to immerse himself in music; in 1986 he released a single called "Distant Star". The song was not well-received in the UK, only reaching number 75 in the charts.
His music tour, which is expected to start next year, will begin in Melbourne before heading round the world. The project is being planned with the musician and film-score mixer, Malcolm Luker, who met the actor when he was working on the score for Hopkins' latest film, Slipstream. This experimental screenplay had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and was widely panned by critics for its self-indulgence.
Luker thinks Hopkins' foray into music will be better received. "I think people will be surprised by Tony's talents", he said. "He's a great pianist and an incredibly pleasant and softly spoken man."
"It's going to happen either next year or early 2009 but at the moment we're doing the preliminaries of checking timing, availability and venues," Luker said yesterday.
He said the proposed venture would not be as simple as Hopkins sitting at the piano. "[It] will feature Sir Anthony playing music, narrating stories over a live orchestra and telling anecdotes about his movie career, such as his famed role in The Silence of The Lambs."
It will not be the first time the man behind Hannibal Lecter has displayed his off-camera talents: the 69-year-old actor has also worked as a singer, painter, composer, screenwriter and director. Since his third marriage, to Stella Arroyave, an art gallery curator, he has been artistically inspired. His first exhibition of paintings, called Dreamscapes, took place last year at the MW Gallery in Aspen, Colorado.
At the opening of his art show, Hopkins said: "Acting is still enjoyable, but there are no more challenges any more for me." Speaking about his paintings, which have included landscapes, abstract works, and surrealistic portraits, he continued: "I do it for fun and for free. I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I just paint and paint. It seems to come out OK."
Music and art were Hopkins' first loves when he was growing up. He has often described himself as a loner as a child, who retreated into his own imaginary world, and immersed himself in art.
The Welsh-born actor, who became a US citizen in 2000, has not given up acting, however. He is due to appear in a thriller called The Wolf Man in 2009, and is currently in cinemas as King Hrothgar of the Danes in the computer-animated film of the Old English saga Beowulf.
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