The Silence of the Lambs may be one of the darkest, most unsettling movies of all time, but when actor Anthony Hopkins was first sent the script for the ‘90s classic, he thought he was being lined up for a kids movie. Turned out, there were no cute little lambs actually in the film, just a bone-chilling reference to the loveable animals instead.
The 1991 thriller movie is rightly considered as one of the best movies of all time, with Hopkins and his co-star Jodie Foster both giving impeccable performances to bring the blood-curdling tale to life. Both actors won Academy Awards for their respective roles, while the movie itself took home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The version of the story that Hopkins had in his head when he first heard the title would have been a very different movie indeed. Hopkins and Foster were reunited as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors series in 2021, and Hopkins admitted he had no idea what The Silence of the Lambs would entail at first.
“My agent sent a script. He said, ‘Why don’t you read this? It’s called The Silence of the Lambs.’ I said, ‘Is it a children’s story?'” Hopkins recalled, referencing the moment he was given the script for The Silence of the Lambs in 1989.
It didn’t take long for the legendary Welsh actor to realise just how special the script was though. “After 10 pages, I phoned my agent. I said, ‘Is this a real offer? I want to know. This is the best part I’ve ever read,'” Hopkins explained.
“I read the rest of the script, and Jonathan [Demme, the director] came over on a Saturday afternoon and we had dinner,” Hopkins added. “He was such a wonderful guy to work with. I couldn’t believe my luck, and I was scared to speak to you. I thought, ‘She just won an Oscar.'”
It was Jodie Foster who was possibly more afraid though. “We didn’t speak too much before the actual read-through. We just sort of waved from across the room and then sat down at the table,” the actor said. “And as you launched into Hannibal Lecter, I felt a chill come over the room.”
We can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to see Hopkins go full serial killer mode, up close and personal! A family movie, this is most certainly not!