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Anthony Hopkins ‘really did not expect’ to win an Oscar over Chadwick Boseman

Anthony Hopkins poses in a blue shirt and jacket
“The Father” star Anthony Hopkins won the 2021 Oscar for lead actor.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Surprised Anthony Hopkins won lead actor at the 2021 Oscars? So is Anthony Hopkins.

Better late than never, the star of “The Father” reacted to his upset victory Sunday night on social media after missing the 93rd Academy Awards hours earlier. In a video message from the lush Wales countryside, Hopkins accepted his Oscar while honoring fellow lead actor nominee Chadwick Boseman, who was heavily favored to win the coveted prize.

“Good morning,” Hopkins said in the brief clip. “Here I am in my homeland in Wales, and at 83 years of age, I did not expect to get this award. I really didn’t. And I’m very grateful to the academy, and thank you.

“And I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early. And again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you.”

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As of Sunday, Hopkins is the oldest person to receive an acting Oscar. And because of his age, he was not able to safely travel to Los Angeles during the COVID-19 pandemic to accept the honor for his dramatic performance opposite Olivia Colman in the screen adaptation of Florian Zeller’s play of the same name.

Hopkins previously scored an Academy Award for his star turn in the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs.” And “The Father” director Zeller also nabbed a trophy Sunday night for adapted screenplay.

Hopkins’ absence made for somewhat of an anticlimactic end to Sunday’s event, as producers arranged for lead actor to be announced last instead of best picture, which typically closes out the Oscars ceremony. After Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” took home the top prize, the academy unceremoniously accepted the final award of the night on Hopkins’ behalf.

When Anthony Hopkins was not there to accept his historic Oscar on Sunday night, many wondered where the 83-year-old was.

The fizzle of a finale led to widespread speculation that the producers — like most awards pundits — had gambled on Boseman winning a posthumous Oscar for his acclaimed turn in George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of the August Wilson play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” (Many predicted that Oscars voters would seize their last chance to celebrate Boseman’s brilliant career, which was cut short last year after the screen icon died of colon cancer.)

Instead, what would have been a cathartic capstone to a devastating year for the movie industry was upended by a perplexing no-show. On Monday, several of Hopkins’ Hollywood peers, including Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, congratulated him on Instagram after he was informed of his win.

“Thank you to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sony Pictures Classics, Florian Zeller, UTA, Jeremy Barber, Christine Crais, Mitch Smelkinson, Juan Miguel Arias, my wife, Stella, and family,” Hopkins captioned his Instagram acceptance speech.


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