Published on April 25, 2021

Florian Zeller, the director and co-writer of The Father, is very, very good at bringing his dreams to life. Months ago, Zeller told MovieMaker he could only imagine Anthony Hopkins as the lead in his film when he was writing it — and named his lead character Anthony for just that reason.

On Sunday night, Hopkins won Best Actor Oscar for the role. Zeller, meanwhile, won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with Christopher Hampton. They were adapting Zeller’s play, also called The Father.

“When I started to dream about making the movie — because everything starts with a dream — the first and only face that came to my mind was Anthony’s,” Zeller said last year.

He had never met Anthony Hopkins. But that didn’t discourage him.

“I had the intuition that he would be absolutely powerful in it, probably because we know him through all his parts as someone who is always in control, very intelligent. And I thought it would be powerful to see him in a world where intelligence is not useful anymore, to see him losing control. In a world that is very rational, but with no logic anymore.

“And that’s the reason why when I wrote the script, the character’s name is Anthony, because it was a way for me to be connected with him.”

Everything Zeller imagined came to be.

Story continues after this link to Florian Zeller on the MovieMaker podcast:

“It was not an easy dream to fulfill, because it’s my first feature film, and I’m French, and he’s Anthony Hopkins,” Zeller said. “But my feeling was that until someone comes to you, and explains to you that this is not possible, it means that potentially it is possible.”

The Father, which was also nominated for Best Picture (Nomadland won) tells the story of a daughter (Olivia Colman) whose father has dementia, but refuses help. It unfolds from the perspective of Hopkins’ character, Anthony, who tries to hold onto order as he loses everything.

Hopkins’ win was something of an upset, because many expected Chadwick Boseman to win a posthumous Oscar for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It was also a bit anticlimactic, because it was the last award of the night, and Hopkins wasn’t there to accept it.

The Oscar was the second for Hopkins, who won three decades ago for playing Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

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