Anthony Hopkins Opens Up About Playing Hannibal Lecter In ‘The Silence Of the Lambs’ 30+ Years Later

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In a recent interview with People magazine, Anthony Hopkins admitted that Silence Of The Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter is “one of the best parts I’ve ever read.” It has been three decades since the making of the movie, where Anthony played the psychotic psychiatrist, and he recalls his first contact with the script.

Anthony’s role as Lecter earned him his first Oscar as Best Actor, which was well-deserved, seeing that director Jonathan Demme deemed him perfect for the part. “We had some dinner. And I said, ‘Why’d you cast me?’ He said, ‘Why? Have you got problems?’” he said, per meeting Jonathan in New York.

Anthony Hopkins loved playing Hannibal Lecter

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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Anthony Hopkins, 1991

Anthony found it easy to depict Lecter, whose character got locked up in an institution and gets interviewed by FBI trainee Clarice Starling. “I don’t know. I do have an instinct about these roles. I could understand Lecter,” Anthony noted. “I could understand the mystery of the man, the loner, the isolated voice in the dark, the man at the top of the stairs who’s not really there.”

Anthony also enjoyed working with Jodie Foster, who played investigator Clarice. “She’s lovely. What’s wonderful about Jodie is that great actor that she is, she has no entourage,” he added. “She just comes on the set and does it. Very laid back. Very cool. What I like about her, she’s very practical.”

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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Anthony Hopkins, 1991. ©Orion Pictures Corp/courtesy Everett Collection

Anthony thought it was a “children’s story”

When Anthony first received the script from his agent, he thought it to be a “children’s story” because of its title. However, the film based on author Thomas Harris’s 1988 bestseller was far from kid-friendly. “So I opened it. I sat in the dressing room in the theater, and I read through the first scene of Lecter,” Anthony recalled.

Anthony Hopkins Hannibal LecterAnthony Hopkins Hannibal Lecter
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Anthony Hopkins, 1991, (c) Orion/courtesy Everett Collection

Without needing much convincing, Anthony was sold and met director Jonathan, who flew in from London. “I said, ‘Is this an offer?’ He said, ‘I’m not sure.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to read anymore because this is one of the best parts I’ve ever read.’” he said.

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