As the Academy Awards trialled a different running order this year, announcing Best Film ahead of the two leading performer categories, Hopkins's no-show meant the ceremony ended on quite a bizarre note.
While his win was as much of a surprise to Hopkins as it was to audiences and bookies, who had favoured Chadwick Boseman's performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the actor has now revealed that he missed the ceremony because he didn't think he had any chance of winning.
In an interview on ITV's Lorraine this week, he explained: "I wasn't being cynical, I didn't expect to get it, at all. The main contender was Chadwick Boseman, so I went to bed."
The 83-year-old was in Wales at the time – quite a few hours ahead of the LA-based ceremony – so you can't fault him for wanting an early night.
He added: "My phone went, and it was a text from my agent saying, 'You've won the Oscar.' It was about 5 o'clock in the morning, I couldn't believe it.
"I really couldn't believe it, I didn't expect it. The next morning I made a little speech of thanks to the Academy and a tribute to Chadwick Boseman and I really didn't expect such a... it was a shock!"
In that video posted to his Instagram, Hopkins said: "I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman who was taken from us far too early, and again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this, so I feel very privileged and honoured. Thank you."
Ahead of the awards, both Hopkins and Boseman had been nominated at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes, with Hopkins taking home the former and Boseman the latter.
The Father is out now in UK cinemas. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is available to stream on Netflix.
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