Friday 20 September 2019

Stars bypass judgment by conceding their own domestic deficiencies

Anthony Hopkins may be the villain of the piece - but he doesn't cast himself as a doting dad, writes Sophie Donaldson

Anthony and Abigail Hopkins pictured in the 1980s. Picture: Time Life/Getty
Anthony and Abigail Hopkins pictured in the 1980s. Picture: Time Life/Getty
Liam Gallagher posted this picture last week of himself with his 21-year-old daughter, Molly Moorish, along with his two sons, Lennon and Gene.
Sophie Donaldson

Sophie Donaldson

When it comes to playing the villain, Anthony Hopkins could write the book. Although in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs he spent just over 15 minutes on screen, it was enough to win the actor an Oscar for his spine-tingling portrayal of the psychopathic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

More recently, he won over audiences on the TV remake of Westworld, playing Dr Robert Ford, the chilling director of the futurist Wild West-themed amusement park that gives the show its name.

Last week, Hopkins insouciantly cast himself as another villain of sorts. Speaking to the Radio Times, Hopkins admitted he hasn't spoken to his estranged daughter and only child, 48-year-old Abigail Hopkins, in 20 years.

Moreover, he doesn't know if he has grandchildren - and he doesn't care, either.

When the interviewer remarked that he sounded cold, Hopkins replied: "Well, it is cold. Because life is cold."

Hopkins is currently on a promotional tour for his next big project, playing King Lear in a BBC2 television adaptation. Somewhat ironically, Hopkins will be playing a father who is driven to madness by the fraught, tempestuous and ultimately tragic relationship between him and his daughters.

This is the second time Hopkins has taken on the role, having played the titular character in 1986 for a UK National Theatre production. A few years later, the father-daughter relationship was rekindled - to the point that Hopkins pushed for Abigail, by then an aspiring actress, to be given roles in his films.

She had cameos in The Remains of the Day and Shadowlands - but their reconciliation didn't last long, and in 2002 Hopkins told American television personality Howard Stern: "I hardly ever hear from her," adding, "She probably has good reasons. I guess we are estranged. I hope she is well. She is too busy and has to do her own thing. I think she is in England somewhere. Life is life. You get on with it."

Hopkins may have made his fortune taking on false personas, but to his credit he has never tried to play the part of doting father. He has been open about his struggles with addiction through the years and recently revealed an Asperger's diagnosis.

He has also admitted he was a "selfish" husband and father and by doing so he played the same sleight of hand many other "tortured artists" do when it comes to shirking familial responsibility. By conceding their own domestic failings, they bypass the judgment usually reserved for those who hypocritically play happy families.

These badly-behaved men are not entirely to blame, though. Regardless, or perhaps even because of, their unscrupulous behaviour we hoist their pedestal up even further.

Take one look at our most-loved male performers - Elvis, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra - and you'll find a litany of broken homes in their wake, proof that we allow their artistic brilliance to cushion them from what would be a heady fall from grace should any regular bloke conduct themselves in the same way.

Only recently have high-profile stars such as Ryan Reynolds and John Legend made the doting dad seem kind of cool. Even still, it's unlikely Hollywood will become populated with monogamous, family-orientated types in favour of bad boy actors whose sordid behaviour is only eclipsed by that of their music-industry counterparts.

After all, if you haven't had multiple affairs and fathered a love child, are you even a rock star? Probably not, by Liam Gallagher's reckoning.

In 2006 he labelled Chris Martin, probably the most vanilla musician to have ever played Glastonbury, a "geography teacher" while the rest of his band were dismissed as a "bunch of students". Meanwhile, the Oasis frontman has indulged in all manner of less-than-salubrious behaviour over the years and, up until last week, he had never met his now 21-year-old daughter.

In an interview with GQ magazine last July, Gallagher welcomed the idea of meeting Molly Moorish, who was born in 1998 after Gallagher had an affair with singer Lisa Moorish, just two months into his marriage to Patsy Kensit.

"They aren't good when they are forced, these things. I think we leave it be. See what happens. If it happens, it happens. Certainly I wouldn't turn her away, man.

"The girl's been looked after and clothed and fed and sent to lovely schools. I bought them a house and all that tack. I just think she's best off with her mum."

True to his word, last week Gallagher posted a photo to his Instagram with Molly and his two sons, Lennon and Gene. As seen in the waves of comments on his post, in these instances the kudos is heaped on the father - despite the fact that these reconciliations depend on the maturity and good grace of the neglected child to see past the flaws and recognise their father.

By the way, Gallagher has a fourth child, a daughter named Gemma, from his relationship with US journalist Liza Ghorbani.

In February, Gallagher told reporters he had "not met the one in New York either", adding: "But I wish them well. If they ever need anything, give us a shout."

Sunday Independent

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