Anthony Hopkins: Director Kenneth Branagh was attraction for 'Thor'

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PHOENIX -- If you thought you'd see pigs fly before you saw Sir Anthony Hopkins in a movie about a comic-book hero, look out your window. Hopkins plays Odin, the father of Thor, in what Paramount hopes will be a blockbuster about the god of thunder sent to Earth as punishment.

Hopkins said for him, the key to doing "Thor" was a good director, in this case, Kenneth Branagh.

"You can spot a good director," he said. "If you're smart enough, you don't argue. [You] just do it."

A legendary performer, Hopkins was impressed at Branaugh's ability to subtly influence how the actors, including himself, played their roles.

"He would do a number of takes... . Normally, that would piss people off," Hopkins said. "But he does it for a reason. He doesn't just shoot take after take after take. ... He's very careful an very structured in what he does."

Branagh is known for his Shakespeare films, "Hamlet" and "Henry V," both of which received Oscar nominations. For him, Paramount's big budget was a big draw.

"The voyage of discovery would be the scale of the movie," Branagh said. "Would I love as I hoped I might the opportunity which was denied me on pictures of lower budgets to evoke one's imagination at a scale -- with visual effects and 3D -- that I've never done before. ... I was kid in a candy store, occasionally overwhelmed by the number of sweets."

Academy Award winner Natalie Portman also stars in "Thor," along with relative newcomers Chris Hemsworth and Jamie Alexander.

"Thor" is rated PG-13. It opens Friday and is playing in both 2D and 3D.