"Hitchcock" star Anthony Hopkins: To get a compliment from legendary director was 'like being given a billion dollars'

Sir Anthony Hopkins is known for dramatic portrayals of public figures like John Quincy Adams and Richard M. Nixon. Now he's stepping into the famous silhouette of cinema’s master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. The new biopic "Hitchcock" examines the director's life during the filming of “Psycho,” specifically focusing on how his wife Alma Reville helped shape his legacy.

Hopkins tells FOX411 about becoming Hitchcock, meeting the filmmaker back in 1979, his thoughts on the Hollywood husband-wife relationship, and how he’s not just an actor these days.

FOX 411: What were the most challenging aspects of turning yourself into Alfred Hitchcock.

Anthony Hopkins: The voice was the first part. To get the voice, the vocal sound of Hitchcock right. Then the makeup. I didn't want to be overweight. I didn't want to put on weight. So I worked out and I stayed very fit and then I went to Howard Berger, wonderful makeup artist, and they put the prosthetic on. It was really very easy from then on.

FOX 411: Did you ever meet Hitchcock?

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Hopkins: I met Hitchcock in Hollywood in 1979. He had just been awarded his knighthood and I was with my agent, and his agent in fact, George Chasen. This was many years ago. I saw Hitchcock sitting in the restaurant and I said to my agent, 'I'd love to meet him.' He said 'I'll introduce you.' So we walked out of the restaurant after we finished our meal, and Hitchcock was sitting there drinking a large brandy. And George said “Congratulations Sir Alfred” and he said (Hopkins in Hitchcock voice) 'Thank you very much George. How are you?' and George said, 'This is my client Anthony Hopkins,' and (Hitchcock) said 'Charmed, I'm sure, Very good luck to you.'

FOX 411:  Can you relate to collaborating with your wife and having someone in your life that knows you so well and can inspire you as well in your work?

Hopkins: I can understand Hitchcock's relationship with his wife because men are very, particularly men who are very creative, they're selfish. Artists are very selfish people. They have one vision of what they're going to do and sometimes they neglect their family. Time and time again you have marriages breaking up because the husband is so neglectful, he's traveling around the world or he's in the office all the time. I think Hitchcock was just typically one of those. An obsessive artist, great artist, and he was selfish. But you can pass moral judgment … he was an artist. His big fault was that he probably didn't pay enough attention to his wife.

He was apparently quite cold with people. Doris Day, when they did 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' she was afraid because he never spoke to her. He would say alright 'Cut, that’s good, let’s move over here.'  He would never give you much praise. If he did say something really praiseworthy to you, it was like being given a billion dollars. To get a compliment from Hitchcock would be wonderful.

FOX 411: You’ve branched out – your artwork, your composing, can you tell us where do you spend most of your time these days?

Hopkins: I paint a lot. And I sell my paintings in Hawaii. I compose music, and last year I had the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing nine of my pieces, and then this year I got the Brit Award for the best CD with Andre Rieu because he conducted my waltz that I wrote many many years ago.