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Inside Anthony Hopkins’ Unexpected Win at the Oscars

A strong showing at Bafta, where Hopkins finally notched a significant best-actor win, indicated that the film’s momentum might be picking up, and a high-profile appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” was scheduled right before Oscar voting closed

April 27, 2021 / 05:59 PM IST
Best Actor in Leading Role: Anthony Hopkins (Image: AP)

Best Actor in Leading Role: Anthony Hopkins (Image: AP)

For months, it was considered a sure bet that Chadwick Boseman would win a posthumous best-actor Oscar for his galvanizing performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The Sunday night ceremony was even rearranged around that expected outcome, scheduling Boseman’s category last so his widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, could accept and end the show with a crescendo of emotion.

That didn’t happen. Instead, the surprise winner was Anthony Hopkins for “The Father,” and since the 83-year-old actor was a no-show at the ceremony, presenter Joaquin Phoenix collected the Oscar in his stead and the telecast abruptly ended.

What went down? I’m told that Hopkins was at home in the Welsh countryside and had offered to accept via Zoom if his name was read, but the Oscars nixed that plan. To distinguish themselves from award shows like the Golden Globes that had been hobbled by videoconferencing mishaps, Oscar producers encouraged nominees to attend the Los Angeles gala in person or to make their way to satellite ceremonies that had been set up in a handful of European cities.

Though his nominated co-star, Olivia Colman, attended the satellite show in London, Hopkins chose to stay put in Wales, and since the producers’ edict was “no Zoom allowed,” the show instead ended anticlimactically. (In lieu of an acceptance speech, Hopkins released an appreciative video on social media the next morning.)