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Actor Anthony Hopkins Celebrates 45 Years of Sobriety

Known to the world for his legendary performances in movies like The Silence of the Lambs and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anthony Hopkins has won multiple accolades throughout his career, including an Academy Award. Behind the scenes of his acting career, though, Hopkins has another reason to celebrate: He is 45 years sober.

In a video posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, the 83-year-old actor commemorated the occasion and reflected on the journey that brought him to this point. He remembered waking up and realizing that he was “drinking himself to death,” and stated, “I’m not preaching, but I got a message, a little thought that said, ‘Do you want to live or die?’ and I said, ‘I want to live.’ And suddenly the relief came, and my life has been amazing, and I may have off days and little bits of doubt, and all that, but all in all, I say hang in there.”

Born in 1937 in Wales, Hopkins got his start in acting at a young age, acting in many theater roles, where his propensity for heavy drinking began. The theater scene consisted of a defined culture of drinking, which affected Hopkins as he got his start. Although he gained acclaim, Hopkins did not enjoy the theater, and moved to acting on film several years later. He quickly earned one of his first starring roles in 1968’s The Lion in Winter. After being nominated for a coveted BAFTA award for his performance, Hopkins found greater success in a string of Hollywood roles over the next several decades.

Hopkins began to drink even more heavily in the early years of his film career, and was quoted as saying that by 1975, he was “disgusted, busted, and not to be trusted.” Hopkins eventually made a change and decided to get sober after a woman at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting questioned, “Why don’t you just trust in God?”

Since becoming sober at age 37, Hopkins has shared his story with countless individuals working toward recovery, and has often spoken at treatment centers or to groups of young people. As a successful and prolific actor, his testimony serves as both an inspiration and a stark reminder that alcoholism and addiction can cross anyone’s path.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Hopkins reflected on how alcoholism shaped his approach to acting, stating that, “But the anger, you begin to channel it. I’m very happy I’m an alcoholic – it’s a great gift, because wherever I go, the abyss follows me. It’s a volcanic anger you have, and it’s fuel. Rocket fuel. But of course it can rip you to pieces and kill you.”

Hopkins went on to say that eventually, he learned to transform his anger into drive—which in turn drove his career toward major success. Learning these lessons, Hopkins continued to focus on his recovery, making a point to acknowledge that even in long-term sobriety, one must keep up the fight.

Now generating Oscar buzz for his performance in The Father, Hopkins has a comforting and inspiring message for those who may be facing a similar fight.

“Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday. You young people: don’t give up. Just keep in there, keep fighting. Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aide. That sustained me through my life,” he said in his celebratory video.

As many begin to recover from a tumultuous year and brace for the challenges ahead, Hopkins’ story is a beacon of light. While millions continue to suffer from addiction, recovery is possible, and is achievable with tenacity and hope.

 

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