In a 2017 interview, Hopkins revealed that he had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was in his mid-70s. When asked how this late-in-life diagnosis affects him now as an actor, he responded:
"It doesn’t affect me—I am obsessive. It’s a great gift, actually. I was a bit slow as a school kid, and so I made up for it by working hard, and I became, you know, a successful actor. Obsessiveness about the details. I will work and work and work on the script and I learn every single line. […]”
Hopkins' unique ability to memorise the most complex of film scripts has been lauded throughout his career by those who have worked alongside him. The cast and crew of Steven Spielberg’s 1997 film Amistad, in which Hopkins played John Quincy Adams, reportedly couldn’t believe it when he was able to memorize a seven page courtroom monologue and deliver the speech in its entirety in a single take. He has also been known to read scripts 150-200 times, in his preparation for each role.
Speaking further on how he believes his Asperger’s has proved advantageous in his acting, Hopkins spoke of how: "I like to deconstruct, to pull a character apart, to work out what makes them tick and my view will not be the same as everyone else." His distinct approach to character work is perhaps most apparent in his iconic 1991 performance as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of The Lambs, for which he received his first Academy Award. Following his second Academy Award win in 2020 for his role in The Father, Hopkins became not only the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar, but the first openly-autistic actor to do so.
Outside of acting, Hopkins is also an avid philanthropist, particularly for environmental and cultural causes in and around Wales, and has been recognised for his work to protect Snowdonia National Park. In interviews, he has often described himself as a ‘loner’ of sorts, “I don’t go to parties, I don’t have many friends (...) But I do like people. I do like to get inside their heads”.
Hopkins can perhaps most clearly be seen as an artistic/autistic role model for how he has openly embraced his own unique view of the world, harnessing his self-described 'obsessive' tendencies to bring incredible range and depth to each and every one of his performances as an actor.
Here are some more resources about how Anthony Hopkins serves as a positive example of autistic representation:
Martinelli, Marissa. “Anthony Hopkins’ Age Isn’t the Only Noteworthy Thing About His Oscar Win.” Slate Magazine, 26 Apr. 2021, slate.com
Louise Gannon. “Anthony Hopkins on Hannibal Lecter and Transformers.” Daily Mail Online, 10 June 2017, www.dailymail.co.uk