Trivia / The Silence of the Lambs

  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • One of the inspirations that Anthony Hopkins borrowed from for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter was a friend of his in London who never blinked which unnerved anyone around him.
    • Buffalo Bill's dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Author Existence Failure: The reason Ron Vawter didn't return as Paul Krendler.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The real-life FBI's Behavioral Science Unit assisted in the making of this film.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Hannibal's line is "Good evening, Clarice," not "Hello, Clarice," though he does say "Is this Clarice? Well, hello Clarice," in Hannibal.
    • Buffalo Bill says "It rubs the lotion on its skin..." not "It puts the lotion on its skin..."
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Brooke Smith gained 25 pounds for her role as Catherine Martin.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • Anthony Hopkins deliberately provoked Jodie Foster off-camera by mocking her rendition of a West Virginia accent, which helped her convey Clarice's outrage when Hannibal taunted her for hiding her in-character accent.
    • And taken Up to Eleven by John Douglas, whom the character of Jack Crawford was modeled on: Scott Glenn consulted Douglas as part of research. Douglas played him tapes of a young teenager being tortured by serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris; Glenn left the office in tears. He refused to take the role in the sequel as a result, resulting in the character being Adapted Out in Hannibal (and in a deleted scene, having suffered a combination of type 2 of Death by Adaptation and Killed Offscreen) and replaced by Harvey Keitel by Red Dragon.
    • When filming phonecalls, it is standard practice to film both sides separately and have the actors pretend they're having a phone call. At the end of Silence they hooked up the phone to the phone network and had Hopkins call from the set of another movie across the country. When Jodie Foster picks up the phone and Hopkins speaks back to her the look of surprise on her face is genuine.
  • In Memoriam: The film was dedicated to character actor Trey Wilson.
  • Life Imitates Art: In the book, the FBI approaches Johns Hopkins, a known center for sex-reassignment surgery, for help tracking down Buffalo Bill. The institute refuses, objecting that this would give transgender people a bad name. After this exchange was cut from the movie, real-life activist groups made the same complaint about the film. In the book, the FBI was able to get what they needed by emphasizing that they didn't want names of people they'd approved for the surgery, but of people they'd rejected because they were not transgender. The diagnosis of Lecter's that they were going by pegged Buffalo Bill as more of a transsexual wannabe.
  • The Other Darrin: Pretty much everyone at some point.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: The film was originally scheduled for release in fall of 1990. Orion Pictures delayed its release until late January 1991 so they could focus on promoting Dances with Wolves for Oscar consideration.
  • Star-Making Role: For Anthony Hopkins who was 54 when he got the role.
  • Throw It In: Ft-ft-ft-ft-ft-ft. Hopkins threw this in as a joke at the end of the take (hence the long pause between the end of the line and when he actually starts the noises) but the director decided it was appropriately creepy and kept it.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • You Keep Using That Word: On a meta sense. Zehava Gal’on, leader of the Israeli leftist party Meretz, has often criticised right-wing and religious leadership in Israel for their conspicuous silence on growing nationalist chauvinism and intolerance and the violence these attitudes beget, labelling their behaviour as ‘the silence of the lambs’. This is despite the fact that the name derives from Clarice’s personal history living in a farm where sheep were slaughtered: the sheep would let out blood-curdling screams, and when Clarice couldn’t tolerate it any longer she tried, in vain, to grab a sheep and run off to save it; this even inspired her to join the FBI, to overcome her inability to protect the weak and make the metaphorical lambs stop screaming—in other words, ‘the silence of the lambs’ is a good thing.

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