Screen legend Anthony Hopkins is back in the Oscar race thanks to his upcoming performance in Florian Zeller’s The Father. Zeller adapted the script from his 2014 play of the same name and made his feature film debut with this onscreen iteration of his previous work. The film follows 80-year-old Anthony (Hopkins), who begins to suffer from dementia. Meanwhile, his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) strives to find the proper care for her ailing father, while coping with the grief that comes from watching a loved one slip further and further away. Keep reading for a peek at the lead cast members and why they were well chosen for a film that’s already generating Oscar buzz.
With 82 years of life and a storied career under his belt, Hopkins is no stranger to critical acclaim. He has garnered Oscar nods for his performances in Netflix’s bio-drama The Two Popes, Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, Oliver Stone’s Nixon, and Columbia Pictures’ romance drama The Remains of the Day. But we want to talk about the role that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor: Dr. Hannibal Lecter. A serial killer with a palate for human flesh may seem far from an aging father struggling with dementia, but there are some strong correlations between the two roles. In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter is locked in a maximum security prison, and Anthony feels trapped within the prison of his failing mind in The Father. Plus, who can forget how Lecter got rid of the man in the cell next to his? Anthony also has a knack for alleviating himself of unwanted company — the beginning of The Father reveals that his cantankerous treatment of a former caregiver convinced her to quit. Finally, in the same way, you never quite know Lecter’s next move in The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony’s condition makes him unpredictable and mercurial in nature. Hopkin’s new role of a father losing his ability to reason and who is often overwhelmed by his feelings may at its surface appear far different from the one Roger Ebert described as a “dispassionate, brilliant machine, superb at logic, deficient in emotions.” But based on the long-standing list of his critically acclaimed performances, we’re excited to see how the masterful thespian incorporates Lecter’s shared qualities into his portrayal of Anthony in The Father.
Colman is also in the Oscar-winners club, thanks to her performance as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. And while the frail, mentally unstable monarch shares the same moniker as Colman’s character in The Father, she is far from the caring daughter the actor plays in Zeller’s upcoming film. Perhaps another role that put Colman on the map better speaks to her ability to play a character with “a loving vulnerability that warms you,” as Variety describes her performance in The Father. We’re talking about her run as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller in BBC America’s Broadchurch. Though Ellie is in law enforcement — and quite good at her job — Colman brilliantly plays the character’s other role as a caring wife and mother who perseveres and stays strong through heartbreaking family dynamics. She holds some striking similarities to the character of Anne, which requires an actor to convey the pain of watching a loved one go through dementia while supporting them through it. It’s a complex, meaty role, and one that could very well put Colman in the Oscar race, as well.
Both Hopkins and Jodie Foster took home statuettes from the 1992 Academy Awards for their respective performances in The Silence of the Lambs, which certainly contributed to the film’s own win for Best Picture. It remains to be seen if Hopkins, Colman, and The Father do the same at the upcoming Oscars, but while waiting for the film’s release in select theaters on December 18, you can anticipate their performances. And keep an eye out for a strong supporting cast that includes names like Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, Imogen Poots, and Mark Gatiss.