Anthony Hopkins wish to be Only Fools and Horses cast member dashed over schedule

Anthony Hopkins pays tribute to his father at gravestone

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Anthony Hopkins tonight stars as Dr Hannibal Lecter, in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, which airs on ITV from 10.45pm. It follows FBI student Clarice Starling, portrayed by Jodie Foster, and her attempts to find the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, a horrid murderer who skins his female victims. In her desperate search for Bill, Starling reaches out to Dr Lecter, a one-time psychiatrist, who is himself being held in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane on account of his own murders.

The film is often regarded as Hopkins’ finest, with the Welshman claiming the first of his two Academy Awards for Best Actor for the role.

Foster also won Best Actress, while the film claimed victory in the awards’ three other big categories, namely Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

While the film saw Hopkins become a global name, ensuring his place among British actors earning acclaim in Hollywood, had the role not been offered to him, his career could have taken a completely different turn.

Actor John Challis once confessed that were it not for Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins would have actually appeared in the much loved BBC show Only Fools and Horses.

Challis, who sadly passed away in September last year, was amongst the cast of Only Fools and Horses, becoming a household name thanks to his character Aubrey ‘Boycie’ Boyce.

He told the Daily Mirror in 2021, that Hopkins was primed and ready for a role in the cast as one of the show’s hated Driscoll brothers, siblings who often poked their head into the cast’s business.

The 79-year-old said: “[Hopkins] is a big fan of the show and was really interested in doing it. He would have been fantastic.

“I can imagine those disarming blue eyes staring at Boycie or Del Boy.

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“It would have been truly terrifying.”

Instead, Hopkins landed himself the role of Dr Lecter, beating the likes of Warren Beatty, Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte and Robin Williams to the gong.

When questioned as to whether Hopkins may have regretted not being on Only Fools and Horses, Challis joked: “He’s probably thinking, ‘If only I did that, I’d have been an even bigger success’, while clutching his Oscar.”

David Jason led the Only Fools and Horses cast as Del Boy, a loveable but dodgy market trader living in Peckham, who earned his keep selling a variety of stolen or broken goods.

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The character finished fourth in a Channel 4 poll of Britain’s 100 Greatest TV characters, beaten only by Homer Simpson, Basil Fawlty and Edmund Blackadder.

Jason once reflected on how Del Boy would fit into a modern Britain, claiming the character would also have staunch views on Brexit.

The actor said: “When it comes to Brexit Del would just think, ‘We’ll earn out of this, Rodders’.

“One day he’d be flogging something to people who want to leave and then the next day he’d be flogging something to people who want to stay.”

Jason added to The Sun in 2018 that Del would have “found a way to use” Brexit for his own financial gain.

He noted, though, that his brother Rodney would have likely been anti-Brexit, spending longer in weighing up the pros and cons of the UK quitting the bloc.

He concluded: “The big political question about staying or leaving wouldn’t interest him.

“He would just be thinking, ‘How do we earn out of this, Rodders?’.”

Challis told talkRADIO in 2019 his views on what the cast might have thought about Brexit.

He said: “I blame Del Boy for Brexit. A lot of the blame can be laid at his door, shall we say?

“I think Boycie, as a second-hand car dealer, would have looked very carefully at what was going to affect his business but I think he would have ended up in a Remain position.”

Silence of the Lambs airs tonight from 10.45pm on ITV.

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