The World’s Fastest Indian – Starting Anthony Hopkins | Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog

The World’s Fastest Indian – Starting Anthony Hopkins

Published on October 20, 2014 under Motorcycle News
The World’s Fastest Indian – Starting Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins stars as Burt Munro, a man who never let the dreams of youth fade.

In the late 1960s, after a lifetime of perfecting his classic Indian motorcycle, Burt sets off from the bottom of the world, Invercargill, New Zealand, to clock his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all odds against him, Burt puts his irrepressible kiwi spirit to the test, braving the new world on a shoestring budget. He makes fast friends of many he encounters along the way who find themselves swept up in his energy and singular determination. Burt’s quest culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the motorcycle community to this day.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN is a script based on Burt Munro’s journeys to Bonneville during the 1960s. It follows the road to fulfilling a dream – and the magic in the true story of a man who believed, “If it’s hard, work harder; if it’s impossible, work harder still. Give it whatever it takes, but do it.”

Playing this eccentric and lovable character is Academy Award Winner? Anthony Hopkins. THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN captures Munro with all his power, his determination, his creativity, his charm, his eccentricity – told through the eyes of a director who knew the man personally, and has never wavered from his own dream of making Munro’s story.

Anthony Hopkins On getting involved with the project

Well I worked with Roger Donaldson back 20 years ago on The Bounty, 1983, in Tahiti and New Zealand. Then years passed by and I hadn’t seen Roger for a longtime, and then we were going to do a movie called Papa, about Ernest Hemingway, and that didn’t work out. And Roger was kind of disappointed and so was I; but that’s the way life is sometimes in movies.

And then he phoned – a strange coincidence – a few months ago. I just thought I would give him a call and see how he was. I wanted to know how he was after the disappointment of Hemingway, and he asked, “Tony did you get my message?” I said, “No.” He said, “I just left you a message.” “What?” He said, “I’ve got a script … you’re not phoning me to answer my message?” I said, “No. I haven’t even picked up my messages this morning.” He said, “Oh, well this is propitious or fortuitous. I’ve got the script here called THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN. A beautiful story; I don’t know if you would be interested in playing a racing driver, a racing bloke.”

So I got the script that afternoon and I thought it was just terrific. It is a unique script, I don’t know what it is about it; it is just well written, very very well written, beautifully written, and so refreshing. It’s not the bang bang, of big Hollywood movies. It’s got much more variety and for me it’s a big change because it’s a real winner of a guy. I’ve had a good career playing psychopaths or uptight people, and I’m fed up with those, I don’t want to play any more of them. This is my life now, I’m a very happy guy and Burt Munro’s philosophy and character suits my temperament.


Anthony Hopkins On Burt Munro

Well I’m no speed freak myself, but Burt Munro, in the documentary that Roger filmed, Burt loved speed. He was, I don’t know if he was obsessed with it, but he loved the thrill of speed, he said that you can live more in 5 minutes on a motorbike going high speed than you can in your whole lifetime. That was the challenge. I suppose there are obviously people who flirt with mortality. I mean, you’re taking a huge challenge, a courageous challenge to risk your life … Donald Campbell was the same, to break the world speed water record. And he was killed in the process, breaking the actual record, and he said he was scared every time he got into Bluebird.

But that was it – to overcome fear is the greatest virtuous courage and I think Burt is one of those characters, one of those guys. That’s his whole philosophy of life, to live life to the full, because “When you’re dead you’re a longtime dead” he says, and “Once you’re dead you never come back.” I’m not a speed thrill freak though – I’m a careful driver, so I don’t like speed. I used to when I was younger but now, I like to live.

Anthony Hopkins On the Script

It is such a good script, Roger wrote it and I’ll add little things here and there; it’s not written in stone. But it is such a good script you don’t need to change the structure of it, and I don’t want to replace lines. But I sometimes make a line sound more natural because I may have difficulty with the consonant sound which is too New Zealand for me and I’ll say well can I … ? For example, I’ve got one coming which is “No harm in asking.” Well I don’t know if I can handle that, so I’ll say “Well I thought I would ask.” I don’t know, maybe I will just put it that way and say “I thought I’d ask,” which is easier. Little things like that, anything to make it simpler.

Anthony Hopkins On working with Roger

If you have a director who has an equanimity in his temperament, that’s good. If you get someone shouting and screaming – and that can come from an actor as well and I’ve done that in my past and I admit it; that doesn’t help anyone. If you can express irritability take it aside instead of being public about it. … Some directors are vociferous and noisy and scream and shout and you can’t work like that.

With this crew, which is the best crew I have worked with in many years, why create trouble? Just get on with your job, learn your lines, as the guy’s preparing his lighting and the sound guys are doing their stuff, and the props and wardrobe people, everyone’s doing a job and that’s what it is. … That’s what it is, it’s a job and I’ve taken some years to learn how to settle into this kind of respect for people for what they’re doing. And maybe Burt’s spirit is around us, because he seemed to be such a decent fun man and I liked his wonderful sense of humor, when he only loved the ladies and says, “Well I think a nice couple of ladies around can help a party go.” You know, I love that bloke Burt, he was – he’s a great, great personality, probably a very generous man as well.

Director Roger Donaldson Statement

I first met him late one winter’s night in Invercargill in 1971. Burt was excited that some young filmmakers had come all the way down from Auckland to meet this old man and discuss the possibility of a documentary about his exploits. In his enthusiasm he wheeled an old 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle out of the cinder-block shed where he lived and jumped on the kick- starter. The engine roared to life; a sound to split your eardrums. Lights started coming on in the neighbors’ houses. When Burt finally stopped revving the engine and you could once again hear, the night was filled with the yells of his disapproving neighbors suggesting that 11 p.m. was an inappropriate time to start “demonstrating” his un-muffled motorcycle.

Roger Donaldson On Burt Munro

He was a character and I think that if we captured that great quality that he had about what he was doing with his life, we will have made a great film. He was really, really happy although there were things that happened in his life that I’m sure had an impact on him, like when he was 14, his twin brother was killed. I’m sure that must have had an impact on him. Not that he ever admitted it, but this was a guy who, as his grandson said, wanted to die with his boots on. …

This was a guy who really loved motorcycles and was obviously very talented in riding them and was also very talented in making them go fast. He also had an interesting philosophy on his life. And it is that philosophy about growing old and having dreams and ambition … that’s what I think that this movie is about, it’s less about his motorbike in a way, it’s less about motorcycles, it’s more about just the philosophy of life.


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