Hopkins Stars as a real Senior Hero in 'World's Fastest Indian' - based
on the true story of Burt Munro. "It's been the best film
I've been in," says Hopkins.
Plot Outline: The life story of New Zealander Burt
Munro, who spent years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle - a bike which
helped him set the land-speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt
Flats in 1967.
Hopkins as Burt Munro
may be forgiven for thinking this film is about a runner or maybe an
Indian astronaut. Most people would not be familiar with the
Indian motorcycle, let alone Burt Munro, the New Zealand record breaker.
you will be glad that you started watching this movie. It is a
most delightful story about Burt, an instantly rather charming eccentric
old character (Anthony Hopkins), who built an old 1920's motorcycle in
his garden shed.
then attempts to break the world-land speed record on a machine designed
to originally travel about 90mph. The plot develops into a most charming
and beautiful story of Bert's determination to get to the race event and
the journey is as much of the story as the event itself.
becomes an instantly likable character by everyone he meets. His charm
shines through and he takes everyone he meets at face value and welcomes
all with a smile and a shake of the hand. He meets various
"characters" along the way who he befriends like long-lost
friends, which in these days of prejudice and alienation is quite
was a very innocent time in 1967 for a New Zealander going to America,
and there is one of the films most delightful and charming moments when
Burt realises all is not quite what it seems.
film is uplifting and may find you crying and laughing. It does what is
says on the tin and I for one would like to see Mr Hopkins at least
nominated for his role as Burt.
world's fastest Indian motorcycle
The World's Fastest Indian (2005)
60s New Zealand, at the bottom of the world, Burt Munro takes a 1920
Indian motorcycle and, delightfully without resources other than his own
obsession and a Kiwi wire mentality, spends his retirement rebuilding
the bike and following his dream to go to Speed Week at Salt Lake in
Utah. Under funded, without the support of a team and against all the
odds he not only makes it to Bonneville, he sets a national land speed
record, not once, but again and again.
All my life I've wanted to do something big.
movie, written and directed by Roger Donaldson. It centers on the life
of Burt Munro, a New Zealander who invested several decades building a
1920 Indian motorcycle.
He then traveled to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where he set the
land-speed world record in the 1970s.
Hopkins, Chris Bruno, Jessica Cauffiel
Donaldson, Gary Hannam
LASHES OUT AT HOLLYWOOD
Veteran actor Sir Anthony Hopkins has attacked Hollywood for its
"insanity", "self-importance" and
"condescending" attitude to the movie-going public.
also tired of the camera moving all over the place, with car chases so
cut and edited you don't know what's happening," he told the Radio
Times. "Audiences aren't so mindless as movie-makers think,"
he continued. But the 68-year-old, now a US citizen, said he had no
plans to return to the stage, calling it "monotonous". "I
admire actors who can do it, and I'm sure they have a great life, but I
can't stay in any one place for too long," he said.
"I have better interests than sitting in [London restaurant] Le
Caprice talking about the problems of being an actor." The
Welsh-born star, who was given a lifetime achievement award at the
Golden Globes in January, also had some harsh words for some of his
recent co-stars. "I recently worked with two actors who wouldn't
come out of their trailers for some reason. Can you figure that out? Or
they complain because their trailers aren't big enough.
a job, like any other, so don't make a big deal. Be polite, treat the
crew with respect and don't think you're different." The actor's
latest film, The World's Fastest Indian, casts him as Burt Munro, a
real-life New Zealander who broke the land-speed record for a 950cc bike
"He's different from any of my other characters," said
Hopkins, who won an Oscar in 1992 for playing serial killer Hannibal
Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
played these weirdos, I enjoyed them, but this was easier."
The film reunites him with director Roger Donaldson, with whom he had a
stormy relationship while filming The Bounty in 1983. "He was
waiting for me to be awkward, but I've changed so much, put my
impatience behind me," he said.
worked with directors who are tyrannical and sadistic, but no longer.
I'd rather do something else."
"something else" includes painting. According to the Radio
Times, Hopkins has an art exhibition in May in San Antonio, Texas.
Earlier this year more than 100 of his pen-and-ink landscapes were sold
to benefit a local literacy programme. The
World's Fastest Indian opens in the UK on 10 March.
Hopkins and helper
certainly not often that we are treated to a movie that features a
senior citizen as the hero. But, the story is good (and True) and
stars Anthony Hopkins as the obsessed and somewhat quirky true-life
senior citizen, Burt Munro, who was determined to set the world speed
record on a motorcycle at Bonneville, which he did at 68.
the late 1960’s, after a lifetime of perfecting his classic Indian
motorcycle and using his retirement money to finish the job, Munro sets
off from the bottom of the world, Invercargill, New Zealand. He wants to
clock his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
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.
as a man "who never let the dreams of youth fade," Munro
became a legend along with his bike. Burt’s quest in the movie
culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the
motorcycle community to this day.
1967 world record remains unbroken. His visits to the Utah were
not without incident. In issue no. 1 of Motorcycle New Zealand,
published in 1973 Burt is quoted as follows:
the Salt in 1967 we were going like a bomb. Then she got the wobbles
just over half way through the run. To slow her down I sat up. The wind
tore my goggles off and the blast forced my eyeballs back into my head -
couldn't see a thing. We were so far off the black line that we missed a
steel marker stake by inches. I put her down - a few scratches all round
but nothing much else".
the time Burt was traveling at close to 206 mph! Hopkins said about the
started laughing when I read the script for The World's Fastest
Indian," he says. "I thought, this is no way for a 67-year-old
man to behave!
been the best film I've been in and Roger Donaldson is one of the best
directors I've worked with. "I originally got the script and
thought it was just terrific. It was just well written, very
very well written, beautifully written, and so refreshing. It’s not
the bang bang, of big Hollywood movies.
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."
world premiere for "The World's Fastest Indian" was 13 October
2005 in Invercargill, Munro's hometown and the southernmost city of New
Zealand (and at the time of story southernmost city of the British
Empire). One of those who reviewed the movie in New Zealand said,
"Burt was an extremely eccentric man and a driven one, but with
tons of natural charm. His escapades on and off two wheels makes a good
story. Just when you think you have seen everything, he does something
even more outrageous. "The movie certainly shows us this.
movie shows his sweet talk, kiwi ingenuity and sometimes naivete. But it
is a cool story, and in true geek style he plays with his toy - the
Indian motorcycle - tweaking it from a standard 55mph until it reaches
the world record for land speed."
Hopkins riding his bike
with Wayne Alexander, builder of the replica Indians for "The
World's Fastest Indian."
it came time to prepare for shooting the movie Murray Frances, the line
producer, called on Wayne Alexander of Christchurch, New Zealand, for
his long experience in motorcycle fabrication. He asked Alexander to
build two replicas of the 1920 Indian motorcycle on which Burt Munro had
set a world speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. That
record still stands.
did you happen to be chosen for this project--what is your background?
"I'm located in Christchurch, New Zealand, and am with Britten
Motorcycles. I was in the business with John Britten, now work in what
was the original factory, and was involved in the race team in 1993 when
I was the race and prototype manager.
"The movie people had a plan in mind to do a replica and Murray
Frances, the line producer for New Zealand, contacted me in June. They
had an incredibly tight schedule, as for a race meeting, and the cost of
missing the date was really high. They planned to start shooting that
"The first replica bike was built in six weeks, taken to the States
for early filming in September, and the second was built in four
did you build two replicas?
"To get insurance for a movie in which there is total reliance on a
mechanical object, you need two. We used both hard and long."
is the actual bike ridden by Burt Munro today?
"The actual bike has been restored and is with Tom Henly's
collection in California. I only saw photos of it, but we had the actual
motor and the streamlined tail section.
was involved in building these replicas?
"We started with a donor bike, and bought a set of engine cases
from a contact in New Zealand; in fact we got everything from New
Zealand except the oil pumps. Burt's bike was a 1920, and the cases on
the replicas were from a 1924 and a '26, which were essentially the same
except for the serial numbers.
"We needed Scout front ends, and engine and gearbox cases. The rear
wheel was a Powerplus hub, and everything else we made including the
frame, shift and brake levers. The thought really was to make it as
close to Burt's as possible . . . but without the fragility.
"We had Burt's original engine here from Norman Hayes--the actual
Bonneville engine--so we had the exact external dimensions and rocker
gear. There was a second engine that Burt had sent to America and
cobbled together, and that's the one that wound up in the Henly bike.
"There's nothing on the original engine that wasn't modified. He
made the flywheels, rods, pistons, rocker gear, he cast the head. The
carburetor was split in two with a hacksaw; he dropped in a 3/16-inch
brass rod and made it larger. That engine was crucial to us. Burt went
187 mph on it in 1967! I figure it was knocking on 100 horsepower.
"The streamlined body was 11 feet, nine inches long, it was only 22
inches from the ground to the top of the engine, and the bike had a
60.5-inch wheelbase. He ran it on 18- or 19-inch tires. For the movie we
used trials tires and a grinding jig to grind them down to get that
lovely, round case profile."
me a quick timeline on Burt Munro.
"Burt was born in New Zealand in 1899, and his parents came from
Scotland. He bought this bike new in 1920 from an Indian dealership. He
built an overhead cam for it, and ran it as a single with a dummy rear
cylinder in back on grass tracks. It was a Charley Franklin engine; he
was Indian's first educated engineer. It was gear-driven from the crank
to the primary and into the clutch, so though it was a pre-unit engine
it was gear driven so it behaved like a unit engine.
"Burt went to Bonneville nine times in 11 years, running both
cylinders of course, and he would leave the bike there but take the
engine back to New Zealand every year to work on it.
"He was remarkable in that he didn't do a lot of drawings. He could
hold huge images in his head. He would put in 30 or 40 hours hand-filing
a piece that he could have done on a mill in a half hour. He stayed at
it 57 years, and had some accidents that would have killed a lesser man.
Burt died in 1978 of a heart condition."
did the actual riding for the movie? Do you appear in it?
"I rode the bike to record the sound track, but Perry Moore (an
Indian aficionado) was the right shape and size, and rode it in the
movie. The clutch was operated with the left foot and the gear change
with the right foot, and it was nice to ride, a docile steerer; I felt
comfortable on it.
"For the sound track we wanted to record the bike tapped out, but
we only had a 2.6-kilometer straight and essentially no brakes, so we
geared it down. It had plenty of power, but it only did 113 mph for the
sound track with the low gearing."
was the most difficult aspect of building these replicas?
"The most problems were with the gearbox. It had a 15-horsepower
gearbox and a 50-horsepower motor. Burt had more time to solve the
problems than we did.
"The key things were the heads and rocker gear. The internal
dimensions were not as critical. The replicas were slightly taller in
the engines so we could use proprietary rods; Burt made his own.
"Burt changed the engine over the years. The Scout started as a
600cc, but grew constantly. It ended up as a 1,000cc, but our replica
was 883cc, or 55 cubic inches. It was a replica of his 1962 bike.
"We got the original 1962 tailpiece from Norman Hayes, who has all
of Burt's stuff. The streamliner tail was actually three tails. He used
it one year, but it wobbled badly. The pressure was hunting from one
side of the tail to the other. We effectively took out one degree from
each of the outside blades to make it steer straight. Burt wouldn't have
done that; it dragged a little more air and would have slowed him down.
Having the replica was crucial for scaling.
"The streamlined shell was modeled on a goldfish. Burt liked the
shape. In the replica we added an inch in the hips to accommodate Tony
Hopkins; he'd put on a few pounds. We had to be sure it didn't move the
pressure too far back.
"Other than that, nothing was really difficult except the time. In
a way that helped, as we had to stay on it. There was no choice. Our
team included Sean Chamberlain, who has been with me and Britten for
nine years, and Kerry Norriss, who has done a lot of composite work. He
built the bodywork from a handful of photos.
Hopkins and wife Stella Arroyave
are the replicas now? Will they play a part in the movie
"One is in Invercargill and the other in Auckland, New Zealand. As
they say in the movie, Burt spelled Invercargill with one "l"
to save money. The replica in Auckland is returning to me soon, and it
will be in Daytona for Bike Week."
was it like to work with actor Anthony Hopkins?
"Let me tell you a story. The only time the bike didn't start was
with a stunt double on it, and the scene was lost. It was with the
setting sun, and he over-choked and over-throttled it; you have to do it
properly for it to start. Roger Donaldson, the director, bit a chunk out
of my ass over that--we never thought that putting a stunt double on it
was a good idea.
"We took it out again at sunset after making some changes, and I
explained to Tony Hopkins how he had to pull a few levers, and do this,
walked him through it. He did everything seamlessly and, bang, it
started! He was supposed to blip the throttle in the scene to wake the
neighbors, but instead he pinned it--held it wide open! It sounded
fantastic, but you could just hear the engine straining; you can see the
scene in the movie. It was right at its limit. I was afraid it was going
to blow up.
"After the scene Tony was so proud of himself he bolted off to the
lean-to to watch the film, and while he was gone Roger asked me what I
thought of it. I said, 'Well, I wouldn't lend him my car!' Later Tony
came out and someone repeated what I'd said and everyone laughed. We all
cringed, as Tony had been very pampered on the set. But Tony loved it
that people were laughing about it. He'd made some noise, and was now
one of the boys!"
January 2006 Hopkins is awarded Golden Globe
Sir Anthony Hopkins has accepted a Hollywood Golden Globe for lifetime
achievement saying he had a career "most of us can only dream
Welshman, who has made his home in Los Angeles, was presented with the
award by actress Gwyneth Paltrow at the ceremony in the city.
67-year-old won an Oscar for his chilling role as Hannibal Lecter in The
Silence of the Lambs.
has also been nominated for six Golden Globes since 1978.
Anthony paid tribute to actress Gwyneth Paltrow - who plays his daughter
in his latest film Proof - after she presented him with the Cecil B
DeMille award for lifetime achievement.
Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins
has art exhibition in San Antonio, Texas in May
his acceptance speech, he told the audience at the 63rd annual awards on
Monday: "I've been around a long time and I never expected this.
This industry has been really good to me." Sir Anthony from
Port Talbot, south Wales. said he had worked with some great stars and,
waving his Golden Globe in the air, added: "I'm not ready to go yet
- ready when you are Mr DeMille!"
who last week was reported to have confirmed that she was pregnant with
her second child with husband Coldplay front man Chris Martin, wore a
flowing white gown revealing what appeared to be a prominent bump.
in the awards, presented every year by Hollywood's foreign press, the
movies Brokeboke Mountain and the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line were
the big winners. Brokeback Mountain, the story of gay love between
two cowboys, picked up the Golden Globes for best film, best screenplay
and best director while Walk The Line co-star Joaquin Phoenix, who
played Cash, was named best actor.
with Sir Anthony, Rachel Weisz was another winner, although fellow
Britons Keira Knightley and Dame Judi Dench went home empty-handed.
won a best supporting actress award for her portrayal of a pregnant
activist in political thriller The Constant Gardener. British
actor Hugh Laurie won the best actor in a TV drama for medical series
House, an accolade he missed out on last year
rare to find Anthony Hopkins in a good mood. A reluctant star, the Welsh
Oscar winner is relaxed, in a Toronto hotel room, the morning after his
latest film, New Zealand's World Fastest Indian, enjoyed a standing
ovation at the Toronto Film Festival. In years past, the usually quiet,
no-nonsense actor, has insisted acting is merely a job.
don't want to get too serious about it, but the foundation for it all
for me is the lines, it's just the text, like learning a dance. I'm not
a dancer, but if you don't know the steps you can't dance. For me the
most important thing is the text, just to get it and, ahh, if it's a
really good script then, that's fine." "it's all the
better when you have a director like Roger [Donaldson] who's written it,
and who left me to improvise."
who rarely shows off his penchant for comedy, shines in this true story
of Burt Munro a New Zealand man who spent decades perfecting his classic
1920 Indian motorcycle. At age 68, he risked everything, including his
own life, taking the bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to break
the world speed record.
Hopkins attacked the part with an obvious relish and being able to
improvise with a distinctly New Zealand tone, he says, "gives you
the freedom." Yet Hopkins was also determined to remain as
authentic as possible to the real character, first introduced to the
world in a documentary Donaldson made about Munro over 20 years ago.
"I had that documentary that Roger made, and when I looked at it I
thought, well, I don't look like Burt, except for white hair/blue eyes,
so I've got to accept the way I look." Then Hopkins was faced with
a much bigger challenge, to replicate the southern New Zealand accent.
"I'd listened to the DVD, get a couple of sounds and Roger said
always watch the rolled 'R'. I said it doesn't sound like north New
Zealand. He said, no, this is southern so it's more Scottish and Irish
and a mixture of Cornish. He sounded like a Devonshire man to me. Then
I'd look at the original Burt and he had certain head movements and
during the filming Roger said, "Tony", he said "Where's
Burt today". I said, "Oh, okay". He said, "You gotta
channel Burt". Because sometimes, it's just like turning a little
tuner in my head. I said, "I forgot the head". So once I do
that I can feel Burt."
But there was more to this performance than mere technique. Here was a
character Hopkins could relate to in some way. "That's why I
accepted the part." But it also meant working on something less
depressing or intense than the likes of Proof, which he just finished.
"Proof was a nice film, and an interesting part, but my wife,
Stella, said to me "You know, you say that you don't take this into
your system any of these parts but you do and you seemed very
depressed." I always dismiss it and say, "Yeah, I just learn
the lines", but I suppose I take it into my subconscious, so I was
a little bit down during that. Then Roger sent me this script, which I'd
read just before when he was trying to raise the money. I thought this
would be a real change for me because I've never played a sort of
outlandish, outdoors guy - especially a mechanic and a motorcycle
fanatic - nothing I'd ever experienced before. I just wanted to do that
sort of movie, because, as I've been cast as intellectuals, disturbed
people and all that, but it's boring, because I'm not like that."
At the same time, Hopkins hastens to add he's not exactly sports loving
either. "I don't do sports, but I love being outdoors, I am very
strong and I love the vigorousness of life, and so Burt Munro was just
my cup of tea."
In the meantime, Hopkins' film career continues to go at full steam,
beginning with the now delayed remake of All the King's Men, which he
filmed in the devastated New Orleans, "so it's going to be very
interesting when it comes out, because you think, whoa, I wonder how
this is going to look because it's the biggest American tragedy of all
time. A disaster that's so heartbreaking because what a city and piece
of vital American history."
"It's true that I wasn't the brightest student so as a kid I
thought I'll show them, I'll do something different so I became an
actor. I've accomplished everything I wanted to do and I look back and I
think what happened, it's just amazing, given the fact that I wanted to
be a musician originally." "I've been encouraged to
write and I started writing an autobiography but I thought who needs
another one? But maybe I could do it, because I've got a lot of stories
about my past and about the actors I've worked with like Olivier,
Hepburn and all those people."
Anthony Hopkins made his screen debut almost four decades ago in The
Lion in Winter, finally appreciates his life as an actor, commenting,
that it's been a wonderful life. "Over the last few years I've
really begun to appreciate the life that I've had. You know when you
look back, you're too busy living, and I never really appreciated what a
great life I've had until recently looking back and I thought this has
been amazing. My wife said to me, she said, "You're amazing. You're
68, you should be retiring but you've got two films in this festival,
you've got two coming up and then another one in January". And she
told my agent, "It's amazing how lucky he is". And I thought,
God, yeah, I'm still here and, it beats working for a living."
than twenty years after The Bounty, Sir Anthony Hopkins has
once again teamed up with Australian director Roger Donaldson. Their
collaboration, The World's Fastest Indian, is the story of Burt
Munro, a quirky New Zealander who set out to convert a 1920 Indian
motorcycle into the world's fastest two-wheeled machine. Munro, played
by Hopkins, eventually broke the land-speed world record on the
Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1967.
this movie your first 'biking' movie?
but I did play a speed record breaker almost twenty years ago [in Across
the Lake]. I was a man called Donald Campbell who broke the world
speed water record at Coniston in 1966. He was killed when he was doing
you a motorcycle fan? Have you ever owned one?
My father had an Indian cycle during [WWII] and I did get on a bike when
I was in the army. I was doing national service and I fell off very
badly and could have been killed. I was so badly bruised and beat up. So
this is the first time I have been back on a bike in forty years.
was it that drew you to the script?
was a good script and I had worked with Roger Donaldson before. I also
liked the nature of this man that I was playing. He was different than
any other character I have played.
was different about this character?
have always played these weird characters in movies. I enjoyed them, but
this is just different. [Monro] was a much easier man to play. I like
being outdoors, out in the open [in] Bonneville.
you consider that you felt closer to this role compared to some of the
other characters you have played?
because I am not like those other characters. Hannibal Lecter I am not.
Monroe is also an older man who refuses to get old.
is a wonderful scene in the documentary film that Roger Donaldson made
about him. He says, "You live life more in five minutes on the back
of a motorbike than you can in an entire lifetime. It is better than
being a cabbage watching television all the time. And having a nice
couple of pretty ladies around can help a lot." He was just a guy
who loved life. He also said that once you're dead, you're dead. You
never come back. "You're like a blade of grass and you just blow
away. So you may as well enjoy it." And that is my philosophy.
Drama / Sport
User Rating: ******** 8.1/10
PG-13 for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference.
Runtime: 127 min
Zealand / USA
Sound Mix: Dolby
(canton of Vaud) / Switzerland:7
(canton of Geneva) / Australia:PG
Trivia: The set of Burt Munro's garage/shack was
formerly the site of a gang headquarters in Invercargill, New Zealand.
I don't think so, granddad!
Well, why don't you put your money where your mouth is?
Awards: 1 nomination
accent may be off the mark, but Anthony Hopkins is absolutely the right
man to portray real life New Zealand land-speed record holder Burt
Munro. The Brit adopted a shuffling gait and soft-spoken manner that
endears you to loony Mr. Munro, and when the old guy gets on his bike
and hits the Bonneville Salt Flats, you can't help but love him, even if
you've never heard the true-life tale behind The World's Fastest
is the weird codger of the neighborhood in a quasi-suburban 1960's New
Zealand town. He's reviled by neighbors for burning his lawn instead of
mowing it, pissing in the lemon bushes every morning, and using a power
tool to trim his toenails. The kids, particularly the boy next door,
understandably love him. The thing that elevates him beyond local
weirdo, however, is his love of going fast. Against all odds, he wants
to be the fastest man on land and despite being a broke, retired fella
with a heart-problem riding a jerry-rigged bike made barely after World
War I, he does just that.
Seabiscuit and many other “true story” underdog stories, you
can't help but root for Munro and his Indian bike. It is director
Roger Donaldson's attention to the film's dusty, magical feel and
Anthony Hopkins's ability to truly revive this strange 60+ man who put
his last penny into his thirst for speed, that makes The World's
Fastest Indian such a wonderful film.
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