Anthony 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. 




Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro



You 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 Monro, the New Zealand record breaker.  


But 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. 


He 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. 


Burt 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 refreshing. 


This 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. 


The 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.




The world's fastest Indian motorcycle


The World's Fastest Indian (2005)


In 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.


Tagline: All my life I've wanted to do something big.


Synopsis: A fact-based 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.

Main Players: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Bruno, Jessica Cauffiel

Director: Roger Donaldson

Producers: Roger Donaldson, Gary Hannam

Screenplay: Roger Donaldson




Burt Munro's workshop






Veteran actor Sir Anthony Hopkins has attacked Hollywood for its "insanity", "self-importance" and "condescending" attitude to the movie-going public.


"I'm 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.


"It's 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 in 1967.

"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.

"I've 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.

"I've worked with directors who are tyrannical and sadistic, but no longer. I'd rather do something else."


That "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.



Anthony Hopkins and helper



It's 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.


In the late 1960ís, 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.


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. 


Described as a man "who never let the dreams of youth fade," Munro became a legend along with his bike. Burtís quest in the movie culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the motorcycle community to this day.

Munro's 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: 


"At 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".



At the time Burt was traveling at close to 206 mph! Hopkins said about the role:

"I 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!


"It's 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. Itís not the bang bang, of big Hollywood movies.


"Itís got much more variety and for me itís a big change because itís a real winner of a guy. Iíve had a good career playing psychopaths or uptight people, and Iím fed up with those, I donít want to play any more of them.  "This is my life now, Iím a very happy guy and Burt Munroís philosophy and character suits my temperament."


The 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.


"The 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."




Anthony Hopkins riding his bike



Interview with Wayne Alexander, builder of the replica Indians for "The World's Fastest Indian."


When 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.


How 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 September.


          "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 weeks."


Why 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."


Where 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.


What 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."





Give 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."


Who 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."


What 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.




Anthony Hopkins and wife Stella Arroyave



Where are the replicas now? Will they play a part in the movie promotions?


          "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."


What 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!"







17 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 of".

The Welshman, who has made his home in Los Angeles, was presented with the award by actress Gwyneth Paltrow at the ceremony in the city.

The 67-year-old won an Oscar for his chilling role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.


He has also been nominated for six Golden Globes since 1978.

Sir 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. 




Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins

He has art exhibition in San Antonio, Texas in May



Duing 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!"


Paltrow, 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.



Elsewhere 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.



Along with Sir Anthony, Rachel Weisz was another winner, although fellow Britons Keira Knightley and Dame Judi Dench went home empty-handed.

Weisz 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







It's 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.


 "I 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." 


Hopkins, 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."





More 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.


Is this movie your first 'biking' movie?

Yeah, 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 it.


Are you a motorcycle fan? Have you ever owned one?

No. 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.


What was it that drew you to the script?

It 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.


What was different about this character?

I 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.


Would you consider that you felt closer to this role compared to some of the other characters you have played?

Yes because I am not like those other characters. Hannibal Lecter I am not. 


Burt Monroe is also an older man who refuses to get old.

There 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. Enjoy it.



Genre: Adventure / Biography / Drama / Sport

User Rating:  ********   8.1/10 (933 votes) 

Cast overview, first billed only:

Anthony Hopkins

Burt Munro

Jessica Cauffiel


Saginaw Grant


Diane Ladd


Christopher Lawford


Aaron Murphy


Paul Rodriguez


Annie Whittle


Chris Williams

Tina Washington

Chris Bruno

Bob Higby

Carlos Lacamara


Patrick Flueger


Walton Goggins

Marty Dickerson

Bruce Greenwood


Joe Howard

Otto Donner

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference.
Runtime: 127 min
Country: New Zealand / USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital EX
Certification: Brazil:18 / Ireland:PG / Finland:S / Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) / Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) / Australia:PG / USA:PG-13 / UK:12A

Trivia: The set of Burt Munro's garage/shack was formerly the site of a gang headquarters in Invercargill, New Zealand.


Antarctic Angel: I don't think so, granddad!
Burt Munro: Well, why don't you put your money where your mouth is?

Awards: 1 nomination






His 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 Indian.


Munro 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.


Like Seabiscuit and many other ďtrue storyĒ 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. 






Hopkins praises missing Gwyneth  05 Sep 05 |  Film

Hopkins 'greatest British actor'  16 Aug 05 |  Wales

Hopkins weds for the third time  03 Mar 03 |  Showbiz

Hopkins explains US citizenship  21 Apr 00 |  Wales









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