Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 | 2 a.m.
As one of the most legendary actors of all time, Sir Anthony Hopkins, has killed Dracula as Abraham Van Helsing, resigned from office as Richard Nixon, saved the Elephant Man as Doctor Frederick Treves and sent shivers down the spines of millions as Hannibal Lecter.
Hopkins’ latest artistic undertaking is painting.
The 78-year-old Oscar winner will unveil his collection of original acrylics and limited-edition serigraphs at Jeff Mitchum Galleries at the Bellagio today and at the MGM Grand on Saturday.
While Hopkins’ acting mantelpiece is overflowing with trophies and accolades, he is admittedly less accomplished as a painter.
“I’m not a trained artist with an academic background,” Hopkins said. “An old friend of mine who is dead now Stan Winston (a Hollywood special effects artist most known for designing the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park") saw my paintings and he was surprised. He said, ‘Did you paint these?’
“With an apologetic grimace on my face I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'They’re terrific.' I told him I had never had any training and he said, ‘Well, don’t. Don’t do any training or it will ruin you. You obviously paint instinctively, so just do it.’”
As a painter, Hopkins is described as a creative contemporary and a surrealist, using a profusion of colors.
“I can’t be bothered to analyze anything. It’s not in my nature or my DNA,” Hopkins said. “To quote Kenneth Grahame from 'Wind in the Willows,' I mess about.”
Hopkins began painting 14 years ago, when his wife, Stella Arroyave, saw sketches on the blank pages of his old screenplays.
“She saw some of my artwork, which were drawings and just doodles really, and she said, ‘You ought to paint,’” Hopkins said.
At first Hopkins was hesitant to use the paintings as anything more than a hobby, but Arroyave insisted he show the world.
“I told her I can’t paint and she said, ‘Yes you can, you just painted,’” Hopkins said. “’I asked her, ‘What if it doesn’t sell?’ and she said, ‘So what?’ So with that freedom I started painting and they started selling.”
Since then, Hopkins hasn’t looked back, selling paintings that he says are inspired by his dreams and drawn from his unconscious mind.
The permanent art displays at Jeff Mitchum Galleries in both the Bellagio and MGM have been open to the public for nearly a year, but today and Saturday are Hopkins’ grand unveilings.
“I am very surprised and pleasantly astonished that it sells,” Hopkins said. “My wife and her company sell these paintings. I’m very happy about it.”
Hopkins has other exhibits in San Diego, near his home in Malibu, but having his paintings on display in Las Vegas is entirely different.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a great showplace,” Hopkins said. “I came here 40 years ago and saw Frank Sinatra. I met Sinatra over at Caesars Palace. I like Vegas. People swear it's so garish but what is life about anyway? Life is garish. It’s tough and ugly, which is sort of beautiful to me.”
Despite delving into his new passion, Hopkins says he has continued to act, filming for the TV series “Westworld” for nearly three years, flying straight to Australia for the filming of “Thor 3: Ragnarok,” in which he plays Odin, and then to Great Britain for “Transformers: The Last Knight.”
“Nothing is ever that busy. It doesn’t feel like work but I guess it is working. It’s more like a paid hobby but I do it,” Hopkins said. “I’m very fortunate to be an actor and be in the position I’m in. I’m very appreciative of my good fortune and I try not to take anything too seriously.”
Hopkins says he has no plans of retiring from acting, or plans of any kind for that matter.
“Nothing is ever planned or premeditated,” Hopkins laughed. “I still act. I’ve thought about giving it up every so often, but they still employ me and I enjoy it.”
Hopkins says he will continue to not only act and paint but also play music, which he has done since childhood.
“I have always enjoyed the mental process of painting and music,” Hopkins said. “That keeps the brain alive and as long as I’ve got that then I’m happy.”
With his 79th birthday quickly approaching, the film legend says he likes to stay active and still feels full of life.
“I get into the car at night and my driver is taking me back to my hotel or wherever I am,” Hopkins said. “When I’m sitting in the car with flashing headlights coming toward us and I think, ‘God this is an incredible life.’”