Watch CBSN Live

Anthony Hopkins: 'Stain' Star

The new film, "The Human Stain," has gained attention for taking a provocative look at race and love in these politically correct times.

In the film, Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins is Coleman Silk, an extremely light-skinned African American who has successfully passed himself off as white in order to find more personal liberty. But his career is ruined by false racial accusations.

Hopkins says, "He uses a word in his lecture. He's a college professor and he uses one word, which is misinterpreted and he knows they are deliberately misinterpreting because of the politically correct atmosphere of the college, and our world, and he knows they're manipulating him and vilifying him. He knows exactly what they're up to. But has nothing but contempt and waits for them to fire him and he walks out and changes his whole life."

Silk also has a controversial relationship with a much younger woman. It is his love for Faunia, (Nicole Kidman), a janitor at both the university and the post office, that unravels his long-buried secrets.

Hopkins says, "He becomes a mentor, in a way, and her protector. He falls deeply in love with her and wants to take care of her. She's a deeply disturbed woman and it is an odd relationship, but he has the secret and she's the only one he admits the secret to, which is revealed at the end of the movie. It's quite a tragic story, really. It's a little Shakespeare in its way, but very, very good."

Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth's best-selling novel, "The Human Stain" is directed by multiple Academy Award-winner Robert Benton ("Kramer vs. Kramer," "Nobody's Fool," "Places in the Heart").

"Wonderful director," Hopkins says and notes of their first meeting, "He was very confident I could do this so I thought, 'OK, I'm in.'"

The film also stars Oscar nominees Gary Sinise and Ed Harris.

Asked if, like the character in the film, Hopkins is often alone and rarely grants friendship, Hopkins tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "Yeah. I'm not easy to get to know. I tend to be a bit of a loner. But I'm changing, I think. I enjoy people much more than I used to. I think it's a role you play when you're a loner, but now I think it's bit of a waste. That is, so I make friends more easily now and a few I've left behind respectedly, people who think they're entitled to what I have. They know who they are. And they may be watching this at the moment, but those people, I just say,'Get out of my life, adios amigo.'"

What he says he enjoys doing is driving. He travels all over the place. So you may even see him at a highway rest stop.

"I've had that happen a few times," he says, "and people say, 'Aren't you so and so? What are you doing here?' And I say, 'What are you doing here?' And they say, 'Well, we live here.' I'm passing through."

View CBS News In