Never heard back from Sir Anthony Hopkins…
After slaving for nearly two years on my first feature film script and having no luck with agents, producers or anyone, I tracked down Sir Anthony Hopkins in Wales.
Sir Anthony had flown into Wales from LA!
It was mid-morning, I’m off sick from work and my iPhone vibrates, my co-writers ringing. Now we’d debated for hours, days even, on who our ultimate lead would be, as writers we do that you know, dream. For me, it was and always will be Sir Anthony Hopkins.
His charisma, staring into you intensely, change of pitch and method into the character he projects would allow audiences around the world to feel my story. Great films all possess incredible actors. Their performances suck you in through the screen and invest you emotionally into the moment they create. For me, Sir Anthony is one of the best to ever do it and I desperately longed for his qualities.
I took the call, “Anthony Hopkins has flown into Wales from LA” and off I went… scrolling through his Instagram, analysing photos of monuments he’d visited and on YouTube receiving his BAFTA award from a hotel room. I studied the rooms décor, the view to outside and sharp on the eye it stood out to me. The window handles. They were uniquely distinctive.
I am so hungry right now…
I travelled through hotel websites local to where I speculated him to be. Scrolling through and zooming in on rooms and their windows. Eventually, I found those handles and from my co-writers call to this location it took only a total of 4 minutes to zone in on him. I crafted a handwritten letter, picked up the script in a binder from my co-writers mom and by midday I was 3 miles into a journey that would change the course of my life. I called the hotel to book a room, “they were closed for the next 6 weeks" and I just knew in that sentence, he’s there and in 5 and a half hours so will I!
Through sheer excitement I’d forgotten to pack lunch and all I kept thinking was, I am so hungry right now. I was vaping like a chimney just to kill the craving; my iTunes was blaring and all over I tingled. Whenever you take a positive, spontaneous stride forward, there’s very few feelings that can trump that. The exhilaration of your heart pounding towards the unknown, internally it’s a sense of liberation.
After stopping at service stations and consuming obscene amounts of Starbucks coffee, I finally drove into the village. What a true place of beauty it was. Stone bridges, hedgerows, the seaside. To this day I’ve never actually told anyone where he was, because I kept a promise, to him and to me. Why you should ask, reveals itself later.
On my back seat is the greatest screenplay ever written
Driving slowly on a cobbled road, I took every opportunity to assess passers-by. Men who were over 60 and dressed veiling their identity. Hats, scarfs and sunglasses, the weather was nice, the sun was out but you could feel the chill. I had one of those moments, a reality check. If I actually do end up seeing him what the hell am I going to do? What will I possibly say? The truth is… I’d had a daydream.
I daydreamed on the way down here, when me and Anthony Hopkins meet, I’ll be smooth. Some people can carry that off, the Mr Blonde persona, under extreme circumstances they remain cool. Slow down time to their pace and do what they have to. If I see him walking by, I’ll pull into the curb, draw down my window and say “Sir Anthony…” he’ll look to me and I’ll nod what time it is, depart my car and open the back passenger door, like the unveiling of someone important, but to his surprise, I’ll only pull out the envelope concealing my screenplay and sternly look him dead in the eye and go “ready to win an Oscar…” he’ll smile back courteously yet intrigued. “What you got for me kid” and this story he recites on stage at the Academy Awards. But that never got to happen, I never got chance to meet him in the village, I had to dig so much deeper than that to eventually get to him.
Every fibre in my body believed that on my backseat, was and still is the greatest screenplay ever written and at that moment he had to love it, I’d come too far for him not to. I was ready to run through this hotel’s walls, shielding my script like a baby from a burning building “get the hell outta the way man this bad boys on fire!”. Skip scene, it’s been a week, no sight of him so I’ve camped out in my car and waited, my CEOs calling I answer “boss?”…“where the hell are you?”… “waiting for Sir Anthony Hopkins dude, you not chasing your dreams?”. It all goes through your head and for a brief second, you’re living out your story and creating it in your every action.
5 minutes later & I’m driving in baby
I had abandoned the village and drove up to the hotel, the gates were closed. I trailed its perimeter and saw a window open on the top floor. I called my co-writer, I relayed back what I could see. I turned around and went back the way I’d came; It’s time to find a place to stake out I thought. A grey car, electric, with tinted out windows approached me, I gave right of way, we acknowledged each other, and I don’t know why but instinctively, I just knew he’s in that car or someone who’s with him is. My eyes shot to the rear-view mirror.
“What if they go in” my co-writer laughed through loudspeaker “wait and see”. The gates started to open, I manoeuvre a 3-point turn. “They’re going in! what do I do…” my co-writer paused and then the wheels were set in motion, “follow them” and that’s exactly what I did. We’d rehearsed I was a courier for our production company, innocently delivering the screenplay only as instructed. So, I tailed them, foot over the break in case they noticed me and abruptly stopped. Only God knows why they didn’t, they just carried on and parked up.
I stepped out the car and running on pure adrenaline. My legs became heavy, I just remember feeling as if I wanted to be anywhere but here, yet the better side of me knew what I had to do. I clutched to my envelope approaching their car cautiously. The driver got out, he was no one I recognised. I managed to tremble “my name’s Jonathon and I’ve drove 5 and half hours from Birmingham” then I proudly handed him my envelope “to deliver this script to Sir Anthony Hopkins”. He looked at the envelope then back to me, “you drove 5 and a half hours!” and it was confirmed, Anthony Hopkins was here, and I felt the baddest mother on the planet! I was no longer Jonathon Nimmons, that skin had shed. Call me John McClane, because I’m bringing home that Yippee-Ki-Yay baby!
This might actually work if Sir Anthony reads it...
Suddenly an older lady leaped out the car and screamed at me, “who the hell are you?” my moment was officially over, tongue tied and mouth setting like cement, I went into survival mode "my names Jonathon Nimmons, I’m from X Productions and I was told to deliver this script to Sir Anthony”. She’d chose fight over flight and she was angry, I couldn’t calm her down. Instantly, this was all a terrible mistake and I began to feel dreadful. As much as I’d thought about being here and what I could gain, I hadn’t prepared for this.
She shouted more, I apologised a lot. The driver behind her waved me off, in a way to say don’t worry son and well done for trying so hard and off I went, tail between my legs but overwhelmed by the notion I had still achieved something here. Because if Sir Anthony Hopkins reads my script this might actually work!
I since found out that older lady was Sir Anthony Hopkin’s wife, Stella Arroyave. The younger lady was their niece. I never heard back from Anthony Hopkins, not like I dreamed or hoped I would. I was delighted for him when he won his Oscar shortly after, I was happy The Father was a huge success; Florian the director did a remarkable job! But honestly, I was devastated I was no closer to getting my script produced. The lesson learned here created the concept of what WriteSeen is today. A platform which allows content to be found in the right way, by the Industry Professional, the decision maker, who anonymously searches for you in our database and if they’re interested reveals themselves to you through WriteChat.
This story wasn’t to promote the way I went about reaching Sir Anthony, I just want every writer to know I’m on the same journey, I feel your pain and I tried every door before daring that one. I emailed his agent, lawyer and tweeted him. I got nowhere. But that doesn’t make what I did right. So, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to Sir Anthony, his wife Stella and their niece.
Like Kayne West once said: “I'm tryin' to right my wrongs but it's funny them same wrongs helped me write this song”.
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