When a disgraced former college dean has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark, twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking fact about his own life that he has kept secret for fifty years.


Robert Benton


Philip Roth (novel), Nicholas Meyer (screenplay)
4,730 ( 362)
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Coleman Silk
Nicole Kidman ... Faunia Farley
Ed Harris ... Lester Farley
Gary Sinise ... Nathan Zuckerman
Wentworth Miller ... Young Coleman Silk
Jacinda Barrett ... Steena Paulsson
Harry Lennix ... Mr. Silk
Clark Gregg ... Nelson Primus
Anna Deavere Smith ... Mrs. Silk
Lizan Mitchell ... Ernestine
Kerry Washington ... Ellie
Phyllis Newman ... Iris Silk
Margo Martindale ... Psychologist
Ron Canada ... Herb Keble
Mili Avital ... Young Iris


This is the story of Coleman Silk (Sir Anthony Hopkins), a classics professor with a terrible secret that is about to shatter his life in a small New England town. When his affair with young troubled janitor Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman) is uncovered, the secret Silk had harbored for over fifty years from his wife, his children, and colleague, writer Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise), fast explodes in a conflagration of devastating consequences. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all of his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life became unravelled. Written by lakeshoreentertainment.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


How far would you go to escape the past?

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Sir Anthony Hopkins starred in Bad Company (2002). Director Robert Benton wrote and directed Bad Company (1972). See more »


During the breakfast scene after Faunia stays the night with Coleman, the bread she eats reappears on the table as it was before she ate it. See more »


Mrs. Silk: Coleman, you think like a prisoner. You're white as snow, and you think like a slave.
See more »


References The Manchurian Candidate (1962) See more »


Sleepy Lagoon
Music by Eric Coates
Lyrics by Jack Lawrence (uncredited)
Performed by Tommy Dorsey
Courtesy of Soundies Inc.
By Arrangement with De Pugh Music
See more »

User Reviews

22 January 2005 | by deannolanSee all my reviews

Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, and Fred Harris are three of my favorite actors, so I believed that this film couldn't miss. I was wrong. Despite the heroic efforts of the cast, the film ultimately fails to convince.

First of all, despite his outstanding talents, Hopkins is miscast. He convinces me that he is African American about as much as he convinces me he is Jewish-not very much. The fact that he is playing an African American pretending not to be African American doesn't help. I just couldn't get around his character and see him as anything but-Anthony Hopkins.

The idea that a person like Nicole Kidman would throw herself at a stranger more than twice her age also stretches credibility. I could see nothing in either of their characters that could convince me that that they would give each other a second thought. It is not just that Kidman is extremely beautiful and that Hopkins is old, but they play people of such completely different classes that it would take more than a chance encounter for them to develop a relationship. The movie simply doesn't create the moments needed for them to be plausible.

Fred Harris is the most convincing of the three, but he exists as little more than an ominous presence. He could have been done away with completely and the movie could still have had the same outcome.

If you want to see great actors, they are here. Their performances are worth seeing for that reason alone if you are a fan. However, when it all boils down, even they can't make this movie work.

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Official Sites:

Official site


Germany | Ireland | USA



Release Date:

18 December 2003 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Human Stain See more »

Filming Locations:

Québec, Canada See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,034,195, 2 November 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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