Not Hannibal Lecter:
On Acting: Anthony Hopkins as Torvald in A Doll's House

         I heard a lot of reactions from the students about Hopkins' performance that involved drawing comparisons between the actor's portrayal of Torvald and his future role of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. While I would say that it is fine to make some comparisons, I did not see anything resembling Hannibal Lecter in Hopkins' performance, obviously because the role did not exist at the time Patrick Garland's 1773 version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House was filmed, so I was confused as to why the students would make such claims.

         Even in scenes where the character Torvald is furiously distraught with his wife and goes into a fit of rage, Hopkins' performance is much different from his later role, so I would have to argue that the role of Torvald stands on its own, despite what previous influences the viewers have been exposed to, or heard of. They are only using that as a template of judgment, and have to suspend that. What is interesting though, is bearing those future performances in mind when looking at their previous work. Any great actor is likely characterized by pulling off many different characters time and time again, and I have to argue that the quality in the portrayal of Torvald is just as beside itself as any of his other roles. Otherwise, you get some sort of actor like Tom Cruise, who is of a much lower caliber, and some of his performances are indistinguishable from others.

         Seeing Anthony Hopkins in this role opened up a whole new room of perceptions for me, concerning the actor. I have seen all the Hannibal Lector movies, and various others where the actor plays emotionally distraught/hostile characters. The role of Torvald was very interesting, I thought; and, when I read the story that the film was adapted from in Humanities 212 a couple years ago, my imagination provided an individual much different from the one played by Hopkins.

         However, with Anthony Hopkins, the performances stand alone, so I was not in the least bit disappointed with his delivery as Torvald.

Eric Pitman

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