Um, Anthony Hopkins Originally Thought Silence of the Lambs Was a Children's Story

Anthony Hopkins, who portrayed cannibal Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, told co-star Jodie Foster that he originally had a very different idea about the movie they were making.

By Kaitlin Reilly Jan 20, 2021 8:29 PMTags
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Listen, the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs is not for the faint of heart. 

Mostly, that's due to Anthony Hopkins' bone-chilling portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic serial killer tasked with helping FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) hunt down another murderer who has kidnapped a senator's daughter. (The film earned Hopkins and Foster Oscars and took home the trophy for Best Picture.) Naturally, the movie is pretty intense—however, in a new interview with Variety, Hopkins admitted he wasn't always aware how intense.

In a conversation with Foster for Variety's "Actors on Actors," Hopkins described how his agent had sent him the script. "Is it a children's story?" Hopkins recalled asking. "He said 'No, it's with Jodie Foster.'" 

Excited by the prospect of working with Foster, who even at the time was a prolific actress with credits like Taxi Driver and The Accused on her resume, the star read the script by Ted Tally. Upon reading just the first 10 pages, he declared, "This is the best script I've ever read."

Pretty People, Scary Movies

While he may have been a bit confused by the film's target audience initially, that didn't stop the Fracture star from really leaning into Hannibal's creepiness. He and Foster spoke about how Hopkins liked to stay in character on set between takes. Hopkins joked of a moment where he asked a crew member, "What are you doing in my cell?" 


Hopkins recalled director Jonathan Demme asking him about blocking in a scene in which Foster's character comes to see him in his prison cell. "I said, ‘I'd like to be standing there. I can smell her coming down the corridor,'" the actor said, which led to Demme pointing out that Hopkins was definitely a little "weird."


In real life, Hopkins is far, err, gentler than his character, but apparently, fans still want to see him in character whenever possible. 

Referring to how Hannibal bragged of eating his victim's brain with the wine and a side of fava beans, Foster asked her co-star, "I'm sure you still get people who come up to you and say, ‘Would you like a nice Chianti?'" 

Hopkins replied, "Oh yeah. They do."

Not exactly kid stuff!