NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Anthony Hopkins enjoyed working with "Red Dragon" director Brett Ratner so much, he has agreed to play Jor-El in Ratner's upcoming "Superman" movie.
"Oh, yeah. I'm going to do it. I'd love to do it," Hopkins says when asked about the rumor that has been circulating through cyber-space. "(The news) was on the Internet, was it?"
"Red Dragon," the eagerly awaited prequel to "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Hannibal," opens Oct. 4. Although a fourth Hannibal Lecter film seems unlikely at this point, Hopkins admits he has not completely ruled it out, especially if "Red Dragon" is as successful as its predecessors.
"(Producer) Dino (DeLaurentiis) said last night: 'Tony, we've got to talk. We have to talk,'" Hopkins told United Press International in DeLaurentiis' raspy Italian accent. "Dino's irrepressible. He's unstoppable, but I don't know. I don't see any more juice coming out of that character. Three? That's enough. But people ask me this, so maybe they want to see another one. I can't go on playing this character. I mean, I can, I suppose. I can, if I put my mind to it. I love playing him."
Noting that the globetrotting serial killer was last seen on a plane at the end of "Hannibal," Hopkins muses that there might be another story there after all.
"That's where Dino wants to take it. He says, 'Tony, let's make him Japanese.' I said, 'This guy is a serial killer.' And Dino says, 'He is like James Bond.'"
So, what was the allure of playing Lecter a third time?
"It's enjoyable," Hopkins declares. "Initially, I had a mild reticence about playing him again. I wasn't sure that it was a good idea. My agent said to me, 'Anthony, I think it would be good if you did this. Why not?' He said that Ted Tally was going to write the script, and I thought that was a good idea. Dino DeLaurentiis is very persuasive. So, I read the script and then I met Brett Ratner.
"We talked about it in New York last June and Dino had actually told Brett to try to talk me into doing it. Well, I wasn't that resistant. I just wanted to figure out what they were going to do with it. And there was just this one little piece in Ted Tally's original script that I didn't like, at the beginning, in Hannibal's attempt to kill (FBI agent) Will Graham (played by Edward Norton.) Not that I'm squeamish, but there was some goriness there and I asked, 'Is that really necessary?' Brett said, 'We'll get around that. We'll make this as quick and efficient as possible. We'll make it scary and not grizzly," he explains.
Hopkins also notes that each time he has played Lecter he has tried to portray the serial killer in a slightly different light. In "Silence" he was icy and reserved, in "Hannibal" a slightly over-the-top evil charmer.
"I tried to play Lecter very differently this time," Hopkins reveals.
"I didn't want to make a parody of 'The Silence of the Lambs' and have it be campy," the actor admits. "I said I'd like to play him with a bit more menace and show will Graham what a real monster Hannibal Lecter is. This guy isn't a hero. I know he's become sort of cult icon, but he is, after all, nuts. But in the Grand Guignol way of Iago in 'Othello' or 'Richard III,' they're fascinating characters. They walk the razor's edge. They walk between life and death and they tempt fate. They're great, showy villains and the audiences root for them even though they're terrified of them. Iago does everything that's crazy, and yet he almost wins. He destroys himself in the end, but he destroys everything around him. And Lecter's the same."
Since "Red Dragon" is a prequel, Hopkins was also faced with the challenge of looking younger -- or at least the same age -- than he did when he made "Silence" a decade ago.
"I was a little concerned about that, but I worked out," he confesses. "I had a trainer and I kept in shape and dieted and all of that sort of thing. Even so, I've been working out over the years, and so I've thickened out. I was much smaller then and so I'm bigger now here, in the shoulders and chest. What I tried to do in the training was reduce all of this. I worked with lighter weights. It wasn't that tough a job. And the hair is long, hence the ponytail at the beginning."
"Red Dragon" is the only film out of the three that does not feature FBI heroine Clarice Starling, Hannibal's inexperienced, yet highly intelligent sparring partner. The newest Lecter film offers Graham, the brilliant FBI profiler, who captures Hannibal.
The actor says Hannibal's relationship with the different characters also affected how he played his own.
"Aside from the fact that one is a woman and the other is a man, there is a big difference," he states. "I think Clarice, being a woman changed his whole demeanor ... He becomes softer, but then he plays real games with this young woman who has come down to see him. He admires her. He says, 'That's odd. This young woman has come to see me. They've sent a novice to see me? Well, now-now.' He has fun and he needles her and tries to unnerve her, but he really admires her because she gives back to him everything he throws at her. He's thinking, 'Good girl.'
"But with Will Graham, I hate him because he put me inside," he continues. "So, as I said to Brett, 'I want to play Lecter with as much menace as possible. I want to burn through the glass and make Graham really uncomfortable.' I thought it was a wonderful interpretation (of Graham) by Edward Norton. He takes a passive approach to not responding to Lecter's viciousness. And then there's that little moment when he goes into an anteroom and takes off his jacket, and he's covered in sweat. That was a wonderful touch. I don't know whose idea that was, Brett or Edwards, but it was wonderful. He's soaked in sweat and really terrified, but he had to keep it all inside."
"Red Dragon" opens Oct. 4.