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Why did Sir Anthony Hopkins write a fan letter to Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston?

Actor Anthony Hopkins arrives for the Premier of Hitchcock at the BFI cinema at the South Bank centre in London Dec. 9, 2012.

LUKE MACGREGOR/REUTERS

Hollywood may be filled with sycophants, phonies and backstabbers, but there's still room in the make-believe business for an old-fashioned fan letter – especially when that letter comes from a legendary Oscar-winner.

Vanity Fair reports that Sir Anthony Hopkins recently binge-viewed all five seasons of Breaking Bad and was so impressed that he immediately penned a heartfelt e-mail to the actor Bryan Cranston, who plays teacher-turned-meth-kingpin Walter White on the Emmy-winning AMC series.

Speaking straight from the heart, Hopkins, who collected the Best Actor Oscar in 1991 for playing the charming cannibal Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, tells Cranston: "I have never seen anything like it. Brilliant! Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever."

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Now 75, Hopkins works sporadically in the movie business and spends most of his time these days composing classical music at his Malibu estate. His next major film role is playing the biblical character Methuselah in the upcoming epic Noah.

In his letter, Hopkins admits that he's had his fill of the movie business ("I've sort of lost belief in anything really"), but points out to Cranston that Breaking Bad was that extremely rare occasion of all the stars aligning to create the perfect TV drama.

"What is extraordinary," writes Hopkins, "is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers ... every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome."

The Welsh-born Hopkins, who began his career as a stage actor and once tread the boards for the Royal National Theatre, then delivers the ultimate acting compliment by likening Breaking Bad to a classical theatre piece.

"From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearean or Greek tragedy," he writes.

Ever the gentleman, Hopkins asks Cranston to pass along his "admiration" to his Breaking Bad co-stars, including Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris and Steven Michael Quezada, who posted the letter in full on his Facebook page over the weekend.

So far, Cranston hasn't issued any public response to the missive – probably because he's still reeling from the lofty praise. Hopkins closes off his note by assuring Cranston that he's being completely sincere in his compliments.

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"That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing," he writes. "But it is not. It's almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email. Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor."

It's almost enough to restore one's faith in the acting profession.

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