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Why Anthony Hopkins wasn’t at the Oscars to accept best actor

Anthony Hopkins, in a red bathrobe with his palms pressed together
Anthony Hopkins in a scene from “The Father.”
(Sean Gleason / Sony Pictures Classics)

There were many things unusual about Sunday night’s Oscars. The conventional running order of the final awards of the night was changed so the best picture award was announced before lead actress and actor. The show’s producers may have rolled the dice that the late Chadwick Boseman would win lead actor, the final award of the night, for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” providing an emotional crescendo to the evening.

But when Anthony Hopkins was announced as the winner for his performance in “The Father” with no one there to accept it, the decisions by the production team led by Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins meant that not only did they not get the finale they were hoping for, they basically got no ending at all. Which led many to ask, where was Anthony Hopkins?

According to a representative for the film, Hopkins was in his native Wales. The show’s production team had been publicly adamant about having only in-person acceptance speeches. And while at 83 years old Hopkins became the oldest winner of an acting Oscar in any category, it wasn’t worth the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus to travel to the British Film Institute in London to accept it.

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It is not clear whether arrangements had been made for anyone to accept the Oscar on Hopkins’ behalf, but he was not the only winner to not give a speech Sunday night. Costume designer Ann Roth was not available to accept her award for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a prize that made her the oldest woman to win a competitive Oscar.

Similarly, at the virtual BAFTA Awards this month, Hopkins was not available to accept his best actor trophy. “The Father” writer-director Florian Zeller accepted that award on his behalf. But the actor later thrilled the press room with a round of interviews. Watch the backstage video of Hopkins at BAFTA below.

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