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Lights, camera, canvas: Actor Anthony Hopkins' paintings on display in Vegas

Anthony Hopkins, the actor most recently known for his role as Robert Ford in HBO’s “Westworld,” adds a new role to his substantial résumé: painter. An exhibition of his artwork went on display in Las Vegas in early December.

Hopkins’ acrylic paintings on canvas have become part of the permanent exhibitions at Jeff Mitchum Galleries on the Las Vegas Strip and in La Jolla. The works generally are priced between $4,000 and $80,000.

The actor’s artworks hang inside the Bellagio and the MGM Grand casino-resorts. “I do it purely instinctively,” Hopkins says of his painting process. “I don’t have any formula.”

The paintings are awash in vivid colors; many feature abstract human faces with prominent eyes.

“The eyes are the most haunting part of one’s soul,” he says in a video people can view during a visit to one of the galleries. “It’s very primitive. It’s childish art” — but in a positive way.

Hopkins says he liked to draw as a child but that those skills were never nurtured. About 12 years ago, his wife, Stella, spotted some of his doodling on movie scripts and encouraged him to pursue his passion.

“She was the wind beneath my wings, as they say,” Hopkins says.

When I asked the actor whether people buy his paintings for their artistic value or because of his fame as an actor, it was Stella Hopkins who answered.

“We’ve sold for over $80,000, bought by savvy collectors that have the pieces hanging next to Picasso and Chagall. They’re buying the art for the appreciation of the quality of the art,” she says. “The fact that it’s Sir Anthony Hopkins, I’m sure doesn’t hurt.”

Hopkins, who will turn 79 on New Year’s Eve, said experts have urged him to avoid formal training and simply let his creative juices flow when he enters the studio at his Malibu home.

“I just do it, get on with it,” he says. “If I think about it, I can’t do it. …Sometimes I want to improve on a painting, and I ruin it.”

It’s a lesson he learned in acting. “I tell younger acting students, ‘Don’t think about it too much. You can either act or you can’t. It doesn’t matter if you can’t, but don’t analyze everything.’ ”

Longtime stage and screen actor Hopkins is best known for his role as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” for which he won a lead actor Oscar in 1992. A year later he was knighted in Britain for his contribution to the arts.

The galleries are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at the Bellagio,and 10 a.m.to 10 p.m. daily at the MGM Grand. The La Jolla location is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and until 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Info: Jeff Mitchum Galleries

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