Nearly 30 years ago, audiences were both mesmerized and terrified by Anthony Hopkins‘ portrayal of cannibal serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Among them was the actor’s costar, Jodie Foster, who played FBI agent Clarice Starling.
In the hopes of capturing another crazed criminal by the name of “Buffalo Bill,” Clarice sets out to establish a rapport with Hannibal, who possesses a particular set of skills. It isn’t long, though, before the good doctor turns their interactions into a mental game of cat and mouse where this particular rodent could, quite literally, be eaten. On the big screen, Foster conveyed Clarice’s psychological dread as well as effort to gain and keep the upper hand when dealing with Hannibal. Some of that fear, however, apparently was very real.
During her MasterClass at the 2019 SXSW Festival she admitted: “The movie didn’t scare me, but Anthony Hopkins scared me. You’ll notice, if you look at the movie again, instead of the person looking at the person off screen, that the actors are actually looking down the lens. And that means I am there, but way behind the camera and I’m just a voice; he can’t see me. And the same is true on my side. So when I’m doing scenes with Dr. Lecter, I just hear this disembodied, scary voice, but I don’t actually see his face. I have to look into the camera and pretend that he’s in the camera.”
Beyond the camera situation, the two actors were kept physically apart due to the actual layout of the set — Lecter behind glass and bars and Clarice talking to him through them.
“The last day of shooting,” she reflected, “we were having lunch. I was having my tuna fish sandwich and he’s next to me, and I said to him, ‘I was really scared of you,’ because I never talked to him the whole movie, and he was like, ‘I was really scared of you.'”
Well, we’re on Jodie’s side for this one. Silence of the Lambs went on to win five Academy Awards including: Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actor (Anthony), Best Actress (Jodie) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally).
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