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The creepy reason Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal doesn’t blink

In The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins' chilling performance as Hannibal Lecter was exacerbated by the fact that he didn't blink while in character.

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins made a movie villain for the ages when he starred as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. It’s long been speculated that Hopkins didn’t blink once while in character during the horror movie, and in a 1992 interview on the Dick Cavett show, he gave some insight into why he did this, and what influenced his decision to incorporate non-blinking into his characterisation.

“It’s much more fun playing villains; there’s much more dimension to it,” the drama movie actor explained. “I met a madman who was on the loose in London and that was pretty scary.”

He continued, “I had coffee with him one day, and I realised just how nuts he was. He never blinked. He kept asking me questions and before you could answer he’d ask you another one, and then another. In the end, it made you feel as if you were living in a different reality.”

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In another conversation with Barbara Walters, Hopkins expanded more on the technique of not-blinking and how other actors influenced him. “It’s a trick I learned because, if you don’t blink, you know you can keep the audience mesmerised,” he said. “It’s not so much not blinking, it’s just being still. Stillness has an economy and it has a power about it. And I have learned that by watching other great American actors.”

For more bone-chilling watches, check out our guides on some of the best thriller movies, best horror series, and best body horror movies. Or keep an eye out for some new releases with our guide to all the new movies coming this year.