The horror movie the Silence of the Lambs contains two of the greatest lead performances ever in Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Stirling, and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. Each is perfect in its own way, though in terms of commitment, Hopkins has the edge, since he never broke character on the thriller movie.
In a Variety interview remembering the drama movie, Foster and Hopkins reflected on their process, the latter stating he was all in. Hopkins would ask the crew about being in his cell on-set, as if he was Hannibal minding his territory. “‘Oh my god’, the director told me, ‘You’re so weird’,” remembers Hopkins.
Later, Hopkins wanted to shoot Hannibal and Clarice’s first meeting in a specific way that was slightly unorthodox. “I said, ‘I’d like to be standing there. I can smell her coming down the corridor’,” Hopkins adds. Demme, again, loved the choices, and the scene has gone down as one of the best in Hollywood history. Getting so involved can yield questionable results, but in this case, it was all for the better.
Shooting The Silence of the Lambs was a memorable experience. Foster comments that the atmosphere reflected the quasi-slasher movie, dark and shadowy.
“It was such an eerie set,” she adds. “All the different inmates, all very dark and moody, and then we come to Lecter’s: It’s kind of bright and fluorescent lighting and two-dimensional.”
The Silence of the Lambs went on to become the only film considered horror to win Best Picture. A sequel, Hannibal, came out in 2001, followed by prequels Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising, in 2002 and 2007, respectively. None have touched The Silence of the LAmbs, and considering the lengths Hopkins was going to, we’re not surprised.