His latest film, The Father, is likely to bring Anthony Hopkins a sixth Oscar nomination. In it, he plays a man with dementia being cared for by his adult daughter. “It felt very second nature to me,” the actor says.
But life and movies are often very different. For the past two decades, Anthony, 83, has been estranged from his only child, Abigail Hopkins, 52, whose mother is his first wife, Petronella Barker. “People break up. Families split. People make choices,” says the famously gruff actor.
After his 1972 divorce, Anthony, a hard drinker who became sober in 1975, saw Abigail only once a year. “He doesn’t blame her. He takes full responsibility,” says a friend. In the early 1990s, around the time Anthony won the Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs, his daughter reached
out. Attempting to make amends, Anthony brought her to film premieres and got her small roles in The Remains of the Day and Shadowlands. He reportedly even helped Abigail buy an apartment.
But the actor’s efforts to reconcile came too late for Abigail, who couldn’t forgive him. “I came very close to killing myself,” she said in 2006, talking about her teen years. “The root cause was the fact that my father and I had an intermittent relationship when I was young. I was angry and there was a lot of grieving.”
Part of the problem is also that Anthony and Abigail are so similar. “They are both very stubborn,” confides a friend. And now, Abigail’s unwillingness to forgive him has made Anthony feel rejected. “Children don’t like their fathers,” he says. “You don’t have to love each other.”
But perhaps it’s also never too late to try. “It’s a tough situation for both,” says Glenn Harte, a friend. “[Anthony] can be very blunt, [but] he is also one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met.”
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