NEW YORK – Amid all the cheeky mayhem and spy spoofery of “Red 2,” two cast members share an unlikely connection to one of the most sinister villains in film history.
Anthony Hopkins, who plays Bailey, the sequel’s brainy academic terrorist, and Bryan Cox, who plays Ivan, a Cold-War Russian spymaster, each formerly appeared on screen in the part of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer featured in a series of horror novels by Thomas Harris.
Cox essayed the role of Lecter (then spelled Lecktor) first in director Michael Mann’s 1986 thriller “Manhunter,” based on the novel “Red Dragon,” and Hopkins earned a best actor Oscar for his zestful performance as Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s classy 1991 horror flick “Silence of the Lambs.” Hopkins then reprised the juicy role in “Hannibal” in 2001 and in a second adaptation of “Red Dragon” in 2002. (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen currently plays the character in the new TV series “Hannibal.”)
The odd convergence of actors on the “Red 2” set was a macabre coincidence that was not lost on journalists gathered for Summit Entertainment’s pre-release press conference. But when Hopkins was asked if he and Cox reminisced about their Lecterly bond during their time together, he just shrugged and dismissed it all as a strange behind-the-scenes twist of fate.
“It was a long time ago,” Hopkins said of the Lecter films. “It was a press guy, the (“Red 2”) publicist and photographer, who said, ‘We have to get a shot of the two of you together,’ and that set off a little buzz.
“But that’s long gone. That’s 20, 25 years ago,” he said. “No, no, we didn’t even think of that. I hadn’t seen Brian for a long time. We met a few times, but we didn’t really know each other. So it was great to see him. The first day met was for that airport scene. But, no, we didn’t discuss Lecter. We talked about Russia because I was going off to Moscow for my birthday. He’s spent a lot of time there and was telling me all about it. That was the main bulk of our conversation. There was nothing about Lecter at all. No.”
- Dennis King