Hello, Clarice: A Closer Look at the Actresses Who've Played Agent Starling

Clarice's Rebecca Breeds is the third actress to portray iconic fictional FBI Agent, Clarice Starling. Take a closer look at the other actresses!

By Alyssa Ray Feb 11, 2021 5:00 PMTags
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Grab yourself "some fava beans and a nice Chianti" as it's time to welcome a new Agent Clarice Starling.

Tonight, Feb. 11, marks the series premiere of CBS' Silence of the Lambs spin-off show, Clarice. The show follows Agent Starling (played by Rebecca Breeds) one year after the events of Silence of the Lambs. This means the rising FBI star is still coming to terms with her face-off against serial killer Buffalo Bill as she returns to the field.

CBS further described the show: "Clarice is a deep dive into the untold personal story of FBI Agent Clarice Starling as she returns to the field in 1993, one year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Brilliant and vulnerable, Clarice's bravery gives her an inner light that draws monsters and madmen to her. However, her complex psychological makeup that comes from a challenging childhood empowers her to begin to find her voice while working in a man's world, as well as escape the family secrets that have haunted her throughout her life."

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2021 TV Premiere Dates

While this new series promises a closer look at the West Virginia-born agent's backstory, we'd be remiss if we didn't highlight the actresses who've previously portrayed Clarice. We're, of course, talking about A-listers Jodie Foster and Julianne Moore.

Yes, the world first became introduced to the fresh-faced FBI Academy student in Thomas Harris' 1988 novel The Silence of the Lambs. Still, it's safe to say that when you think of Clarice Starling, you picture Foster's portrayal of the young trainee in the 1991 film adaptation. In fact, Foster's Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs is ranked sixth on the American Film Institute's "The 100 Greatest Heroes and Villains" list.

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Not to mention, Foster's take on the dark-haired, smart as a whip budding agent earned her the Best Actress Oscar at the 64th Academy Awards. This was well-deserved as Foster gave a dynamic performance opposite Anthony Hopkins' bone-chilling portrayal of cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter.

While accepting her Oscar, Foster noted, "Of course, the reason that I'm here, Anthony Hopkins. Quid pro quo, doctor?"

The chemistry between Foster and Hopkins created one of the best cat-and-mouse games that we've seen on the big screen. Thus, Foster's take on Clarice is one that'll be hard to top.

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The second big picture portrayal of Clarice Starling came in the Ridley Scott-directed 2001 film, Hannibal. Although the thriller film marked Hopkins' return to the role of Hannibal, it was Julianne Moore who played Clarice Starling.

The film, which takes place ten years after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, follows Agent Starling (Moore) as she tries to capture Lecter. There was more than a difference in hair color in Hannibal as, film critic Roger Ebert described in his 2001 review, Moore's depiction of Clarice was "drier, more cynical, more closed off than the young idealist we met 10 years ago."

Moore, who couldn't quite nail the West Virginia accent, was also criticized for failing to make the part her own. Regardless, even after mixed reviews, Hannibal made more than $350 million at the box office worldwide.

Brooke Palmer ©2020 CBS Broadcasting

Now, the Agent Starling baton has been passed to Australian actress Rebecca Breeds. However, you wouldn't know that Breeds hails from Australia as her West Virginia accent (and hair) resembles that of Foster's.

In a new trailer ahead of Thursday's premiere, Breeds as Starling noted, "The lambs were screaming. I tried to free them. I thought if I could save just one…but he was so heavy. I couldn't save them then, but I will never stop trying."

This speech is reminiscent of one given by Clarice to Hannibal in the '91 film. So, we have a feeling we'll see a lot of Foster in Breeds' portrayal of Clarice—and we couldn't be more excited.

In addition to Breeds, Clarice stars Devyn A. Tyler, Lucca De Oliveira, Kal Penn, Nick Sandow, Michael Cudlitz and Marnee Carpenter.

As for a Hannibal Lecter casting? Legally, Clarice is unable to mention Lecter due to a rights situation. So, for now, there will be no mention of the serial killer on the CBS show.

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Be sure to catch Breeds' take on Agent Starling when Clarice premieres tonight, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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