Anthony Hopkins is the elder statesman of “Westworld,” both among the cast and within the show itself as Dr. Robert Ford, the mastermind behind the adult theme park concept and its “hosts.” The Oscar winner recently sat for a quick chat that included an impromptu voice appearance by a frightening character from his past — no, not that one, Clarice — among other delights. Edited excerpts below, but not too many because, as Hopkins noted: “I’ve been sworn if I give any secrets away I’ll be arrested by the HBO secret police. I’ll be locked up in some asylum.”
As the “creator” you may have the best role of anyone in the show.
I’m really intrigued by that, seriously. I had no idea what the part was about while I was playing it. (Laughs.) That’s not true, I had a vague notion, but I couldn’t really follow the line through because I didn’t have time to read the scripts thoroughly. So I’d read my own parts and talk to [executive producer] Jonah [Nolan] or the director or whoever was working on the [episode] and say “What happens now? What happens in the next episode?” And they’d say “Well, I can’t tell you that.” But I am pleased that you said that because I really enjoyed playing him. It’s the most interesting part I’ve had in a long time because he had to say so many grand themes about the bicameral mind and consciousness and all that. And it gets more interesting.
Michael Weatherly and Chris Jackson, right, in “Bull.” The series premieres Sept. 20.(David M. Russell / CBS )
Kiefer Sutherland, front left, and Natascha McElhone in “Designated Survivor.”(Ben Mark / ABC)
Hugh Laurie stars as a forensic neuropsychiatrist in the new Hulu series “Chance,” which premieres Oct. 19.(Hulu)
Thomas Haden Church and Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce.” The series premieres Oct. 9.(Craig Blankenhorn / HBO )
Malcolm Barrett, left, Matt Lanter and Abigail Spencer in “Timeless.” The series premieres Sept. 21.(Joe Lederer / NBC )
Susan Kelechi Watson and Sterling K. Brown in “This is Us,” which premieres Sept. 20.(Ron Batzdorff / NBC )
“The Great Indoors,” with Christine Ko, from left, Shaun Brown, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Joel McHale and Susannah Fielding, premieres Oct. 27.(Cliff Lipson / CBS)
Kristen Bell and Ted Danson star in "The Good Place,” premiering Sept. 19.(Justin Lubin / NBC)
Hannah Kasulka, left, and Brianne Howey in “The Exorcist,” premiering Sept. 23.(Chuck Hodes / FOX )
Kyla Kennedy, from left, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler and Minnie Driver in the series “Speechless,” which premieres Sept. 21.(Nicole Wilder / ABC )
Augustus Prew, left, and Dermot Mulroney star in “Pure Genius.” The series premieres Oct. 27.(Sonja Flemming / CBS)
Tim Jo, from left, Meagan Holder, Mo McRae, Kylie Bunbury, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mark Consuelos, Ali Larter and Dan Lauria in “Pitch.” The series premieres Sept. 22.(Tommy Garcia / FOX)
Daniel Sunjata and Piper Perabo star in “Notorious.” The series premieres Sept. 22.(Eli Joshua Ade / ABC )
“No Tomorrow,” starring Joshua Sasse and Tori Anderson, premieres Oct. 4.(Eddy Chen / The CW)
Mike Colter stars in “Marvel’s Luke Cage.” The series hits Netflix on Sept. 30.(Myles Aronowitz / Netflix )
“Lethal Weapon,” premiering Sept. 21, stars Clayne Crawford, left, and Damon Wayans.( Richard Foreman / FOX)
Kevin James stars in the series “Kevin Can Wait,” which premieres Sept. 19.(Dave Giesbrecht / CBS)
Alexis Bledel in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” The series hits Netflix on Nov. 25.(Neil Jacobs / Netflix)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in "Fleabag.” The series premieres on Amazon on Sept. 16.(Luke Varley / Amazon )
Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright, right, in “Westworld,” which premieres Oct. 2.(John P. Johnson / HBO )
The show is having a deeper conversation about ethics: If you program the “hosts” to feel — love, fear, pain — is what you’re doing actually OK?
You mentioned [Hopkins’ 1978 thriller] “Magic” earlier, which fits in some. Because when Corky, the guy I play, is finally destroyed, how does he die? He kills himself, doesn’t he?
Yes, Corky stabs himself in a ruse to fool Fats, his ventriloquist dummy —which he believes is separate from himself — that he has killed someone else.
And then Fats the dummy whispers to me (he adopts the creepy dummy voice) “It was you all along schmucko.” It was just a dummy, but it was his own insanity that destroyed him. But the dummy had to tell him. And that’s this guy, he’s created this Disney world and he doubts very much that what he’s done is that good, it’s a very dangerous world that he’s created.
Your character seems benevolent, almost grandfatherly towards his creations initially, but it appears Ford takes a turn and it must have been fun to unspool him.
I saw the trailer for the first time this morning and I was really impressed by that. I’m very pleased and thought “Well, this really looks interesting.“ I guess the lines I spoke in that, I’ve forgotten, they make him a very strange, dark, mysterious figure.
Dolores, the host played by Evan Rachel Wood, asks if you are friends. And you say “No, I wouldn’t say friends, Dolores. I wouldn’t say that at all.”
Is that what I say? I heard someone laughing in the audience. It was kind of sinister.
Yes, it was very scary.
(Dropping his voice to a whisper and with a twinkly-eyed smile) I like scaring people.