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You may know Vanessa from her TV projects like «The Frankenstein Chronicles» or «The Hour»; her movie projects «About Time» or «Kill Command»; or her most acclaimed project «The Crown». Follow our site for her latest news and we will assure you will never miss anything about Vanessa´s career!

In fact, Hopkins can remember seeing McKellen’s Iago in 1970. And seeing him in a theatre bar half a century ago — and even who McKellen was having a drink with.

‘What was the weather like that day?’ McKellen asks, suppressing a smile. ‘It was frosty,’ Hopkins responded, tongue in cheek.

But the atmosphere on The Dresser, whose cast also includes Sarah Lancashire and Vanessa Kirby, is anything but.

The two men check each other out like two jazz virtuosos who’ve dropped into Ronnie Scott’s to play an impromptu set.


In The Dresser, Hopkins plays an ailing actor known as Sir, and McKellen is his devoted backstage hand and dresser, Norman. It takes place on a fateful night in a small regional theater during World War II as a troupe of touring actors stage a production of Shakespeare’s King Lear. As the backstage situation reaches a crisis, it parallels the onstage struggle of Lear and his Fool. The play was inspired by Harwood’s experiences as a dresser for the distinguished British actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit. Richard Eyre is directing. Emily Watson, Happy Valley‘s Sarah Lancashire, Everest’s Vanessa Kirby and Edward Fox, who also had a role in Peter Yates’ Oscar-nominated 1983 film version, are part of the supporting cast.

In the late afternoon, I watch a particularly intense scene between Kirby’s Irene — the aspiring actress who plays the Map-Bearer in King Lear but desperately wants to play Cordelia. Hopkins’ Sir has to manhandle and ultimately lift her, cradle style, in a sweeping and unexpected movement. A crewmember who won’t be seen on camera helps lift Kirby into Hopkins’ arms. They repeat this several times and Hopkins finally tells the helper to let him hold onto her on his own. He then keeps her aloft for quite a while and after setting her down, clenches his fists and starts impersonating Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, hamming it up with a “Yo, Adrian!” to the enjoyment of everyone watching.

Hopkins and Kirby then shoot the part of the scene that leads up to the lift. In it, Irene is interrogated by Sir about her theatrical ambitions and is forced to approach him and lift her skirt. They perform it several times, and by the last take, Kirby is crying because she’s so moved by the intensity of the scene.

I asked her later what it was like to perform such a scene with Hopkins. The affable up-and-comer who is simultaneously doing ITV’s Frankenstein Chronicles and has features Genius and Everest in the can, shrieks: “I know! When I read that scene, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be felt up by Anthony Hopkins.’ It’s kind of like a semi-dream of mine I think.”


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