The only hitch? The celebrated star, 83, was asleep in bed at the time and had no idea he’d won what was the final award of the evening or that he had become a record holder as the oldest star to win an Oscar in the category.
“Tony was in Wales, where he grew up, and he was asleep at 4 in the morning when I woke him up to tell him the news,” Hopkins’ long-time agent Jeremy Barber tells PEOPLE.
“He was so happy and so grateful.”
The two-time Oscar winner, who beat out fellow nominees Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Steven Yeun (Minari), had recently returned to his native Wales.
Presenter Joaquin Phoenix, who won the category last year for his performance in Joker, accepted the award on Hopkins’ behalf.
In The Father, Hopkins plays Anthony, an 80-year-old man with dementia who defiantly rejects the caregivers that his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) introduces to him. As his condition worsens, Anthony’s confusion surrounding his memories affects his identity and the relationships around him.
This was Hopkins’ sixth Oscar nomination.