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Ronald Harwood's stage play was adapted for film in 1983 and received
multiple Oscar nominations and a fruity performance from Albert Finney.
Harwood's play has now been adapted for television. Harwood wanted it
to be a stage revival with Anthony Hopkins but he called time on his
stage career several decades ago and so we get Hopkins for the
I remember soon after Laurence Olivier died, it was Hopkins who
introduced a special tribute programme on the BBC. Then he was regarded
as an actor who never quiet fulfilled his immense talent on the stage
or screen. He had been Olivier's understudy at the National Theater.
Wild living and booze got the better off him. Hopkins was not averse to
do highly paid thrash like Hollywood Wives for American television. He
would also do more credible British television films, usually the BBC
and every now and then wow the stage in plays such as David Hare's
Within a few years after that introduction of that tribute to Olivier,
Hopkins entered his own golden era first by bagging a best actor Oscar
for Silence of the Lambs. He would get three other Oscar nominations in
the 1990s and got to work with directors such as Spielberg and Oliver
Stone. He would be regarded as one of the best actors of his
In The Dresser Hopkins returns to BBC television after some years and
teams up with Ian McKellen for the first time on-screen. McKellen is
the loyal, camp, alcoholic dresser to Hopkin's Sir, the domineering
actor-manager (based on Sir Donald Wolfit) touring up and down the
various stages of Britain during World War 2.
In his advancing years and in ill health, he is not up to playing the
big roles, in this case King Lear. He needs all the help from his
Dresser just to get on the stage and recite the opening lines.
Hopkins lays bare an actor who once thrilled the crowd, womanised, was
adored and is self absorbed. Emily Watson plays the much maligned wife
who in many ways has had enough of him, always playing second fiddle to
the detriment of her own career. Then again so has the waspish McKellen
and we see in the end as his anger and vindictiveness bubbles through.
Director Richard Eyre has deliberately not opened the play up too much.
It is kept small and intimate. We get to see Hopkins deliver bits of
King Lear as Sir gets to the stage and delivers one big final
performance. Look out for Edward Fox playing an actor drafted in at the
last moment to play the Fool who delivers a tender monologue when he
drops by to pay his respects to Sir after the performance.
Tags for The Dresser Full Movie
, Emily Watson
, Ian McKellen
, Vanessa Kirby
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