Anthony Hopkins lends his features to one of the most famous monsters of cinema in “The Silence of the Lambs”. During the production of Jonathan Demme’s cult film, the actor had no trouble terrorizing his colleagues, inhabited by the role of Hannibal Lecter.
The silence of the lambs: on the track of “Buffalo Bill”
An eclectic director, Jonathan Demme made a radical change of register in 1991. After the excellent comedies Dangerous in all respects and Widow but not too much the filmmaker signs Thesilenceofthelambs. In this reference to the thriller adapted from the Thomas Harris novel, Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling, a promising FBI intern. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, is convinced that she can help him flush out “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine).
This psychopath rages in the Middle West and has the particularity of cutting the skin of his victims. To stop her series of murders, Clarice Starling has no choice but to ask for help from an individual capable of understanding him: the cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, imprisoned in a very high-security cell.
Anthony Hopkins succeeds Brian Cox, who had lent him his features in Manhunter by Michael Mann, as the killer who loves eating organs with buttered beans and excellent Chianti. If Gaspard Ulliel and Mads Mikkelsen subsequently embody the famous character, the actor of The Father just stays the iconic face of Hannibal Lecter. In 2001, the actor finds the protagonist for Hannibal by Ridley Scott, before participating a year later in the prequel Red Dragon by Brett Ratner.
For his fabulous composition, Anthony Hopkins wins the Oscar for Best Actor, while Jodie Foster wins that of Best Actress. In 1992, Thesilenceofthelambs also leaves with the statuettes for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
A first meeting that sets the tone
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the feature film, variety organizes 2021 a conversation between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The two actors then talk about their discovery of the project and their memories of filming. During this exchange, the actress remembers in particular the first impression made on him by his partner when reading the script.
Extremely well prepared, Anthony Hopkins arrives with an attitude similar to that of his character in the film. Facing him, Jodie Foster is terrified :
We didn’t talk much before the reading. We waved to each other across the room, then sat down at the table. And when you slipped into the shoes of Hannibal Lecter, I really – I felt like a chill ran through the room. (…) I was extremely scared. Somehow we were almost too scared to talk to each other after that.
Indeed, Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins don’t speak to each other outside of takes during production. Passing through The Graham Norton Show in 2016, the actress assures that she never argued with her partner because he was too scary. Permanently in his role, the actor also worries Jonathan Demme. The director lets him know several times that he finds him very strange. Remarks that he obviously takes as compliments.