To celebrate in advance the 30 years of the premiere of The Silence of the Lambs -which hit theaters in the United States on February 14, 1991-, Variety magazine brought together Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, its protagonists, in a talk that revealed many of the secrets of the filming of the five-award-winning film Oscars, including Best Picture, Actress and Actor.
Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film’s global success, which grossed more than $ 270 million worldwide, was a remarkable feat for an age-only thriller. However, its title, in principle, confused its main actor a bit.
“Is it a children’s story?” Hopkins asked his agent when he told him that he had received an offer to work on a movie called The Silence of the Lambs, whose literal translation is “the silence of the lambs.”
“Later, when he sent me the script, I read ten pages and asked him if the offer was real, because it was the best I had read in my entire career,” recalled the actor in the talk via Zoom organized by Variety.
During the conversation with Foster, the actor also confessed that at first he could not believe how lucky he was to work with the actress who a few years before, in 1989, had won an Oscar for her role in The Accused. “I was scared to talk to you,” Hopkins said.
But of course, as soon as he got into the role of the cannibal doctor “Hannibal Lecter” the one who was afraid was Foster. “I remember the voice and the metallic tone that you used in the first reading of the script. When you became ‘Hannibal Lecter’ I felt a chill. After that I was too scared to chat, “recalled the actress who conceived” Clarice Starling, “the FBI agent forced to collaborate with the killer ‘Lecter’ to catch another dangerous serial criminal, as a heroine.
“The scene that helped me affirm the character is one that appears at the beginning of the film. ‘Clarice’ enters an elevator and is surrounded by male agents who are all much taller than her. Something in her expression of calm for me must almost show a sense of shame for not being taller, stronger, as if her attitude was trying to overcome the flaws of the body she was born with. There I understood that that was his power. In a way, she was like the victims and the fact that she could empathize with them made her the hero of the story, ”Foster said.
Once Hopkins, with the help of the director, armed his character with elements of PAGE 9000, the 2001 artificial intelligence villain Space Odyssey, the ways of one of his professors at the British Theater Academy and his idea about white sharks, the actor decided to stay in character even between scenes. Thus, Hopkins recalled that when they were preparing the sequence of the first meeting between ‘Lecter’ and ‘Clarice’, he suggested that Demme stay motionless in front of the bars because the character could smell her walking down the hall. A suggestion that the director accepted after commenting on how strange his main actor was.
The interpreters were so immersed in the hour-long talk, remembering their work on the film based on the novel by Thomas Harris that to the delight of the fans they said goodbye with a cheerful exchange: “Bye, Clarice. Bye, Tony, bye, Doctor Lecter ”.
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Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster meet again for 30 years of “The Silence of the Lambs”