Esteemed performer Anthony Hopkins nearly retired from his acting career before the role of Odin in Marvel’s first Thor film gave him the energy he needed to keep going.
In the recently published compendium The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Academy Award-winning actor revealed that he was fully prepared to quit acting before he landed his role as the Norse god for the 2011 film. When discussing the reason for his turnaround, he credited Thor director Kenneth Branagh as the source of enthusiasm he needed to keep working, saying “Branagh gave me back the chops to work.”
“I was gonna give it up, really,” Hopkins said of his acting career. “But you see, [Branagh] won’t let you do that. Working with Ken was quite an injection of new energy into my life.”
By the year 2010, Hopkins had already earned a myriad of accolades over years of performances on both stage and screen. After serving as an understudy in theatre to the decorated Shakespearean Laurence Oliver, Hopkins’ film career took off following his starring role as Richard the Lionheart in the 1968 historical drama The Lion in Winter. After playing a number of starring and supporting roles throughout the 70s and 80s, Hopkins served up his deliciously evil performance as Hannibal Lecter in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, often credited as one of the greatest horror films of all time.
Following another 20 years of acting, Hopkins was ready to quit. However, his role as Odin managed to convince him to stay onscreen for a little while longer. The actor attributed his turnaround entirely to Branagh, another performer famed for his portrayal and direction of Shakespearean plays. Hopkins commended Branagh’s energy behind the scenes, attributing his attitude to the success of the entire Thor team.
“He seems to have that same infectious quality on everybody in the crew,” Hopkins said. “His enthusiasm, his attitude, is so positive, that he brings out the best in everybody.”
Following Hopkins’ performance in Thor, the reinvigorated actor has since appeared in 19 films, continuing to portray Thor’s father for Thor: The Dark World in 2013 and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. He has also appeared in two television movies and two television series, most notably in HBO’s Westworld, where he played Dr. Robert Ford for 17 episodes of the dystopian sci-fi drama, but also in Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest as the narrator for the episode “Everlight.”
Branagh did not return to direct the MCU’s Thor sequels, but he did return to the MCU for a brief cameo as the Asgardian distress caller at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. Since Thor, Branagh has lent his direction to two other Disney films, 2015’s Cinderella and 2020’s Artemis Fowl. His next directorial feature, an adaptation of the Agatha Christie murder mystery novel Death on the Nile, is due to hit theaters February 11, 2022. Hopkins’ next film is set to be a role in The Son, a sequel to 2020’s The Father, which won Hopkins the Academy Award for Best Actor.