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Trivia / The Silence of the Lambs

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  • Ability over Appearance: In the novel, Hannibal has maroon eyes and six fingers on his left hand. Like most people, Anthony Hopkins has neither of those attributes, and no attempt was made (or necessary) at altering his eyes or hand to better match the book's description.
  • 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.
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    • Lecter's white outfit in Baltimore was suggested by Hopkins, who felt that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists. note 
    • 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:
  • Approval of God: The FBI gave this to the film, with the exception of the sequence where Clarice goes to Buffalo Bill's house alone, stating that a trainee would never be sent on such a potentially dangerous assignment, especially not alone.
  • Author Existence Failure: The reason Ron Vawter didn't return as Paul Krendler for the sequel.
  • Award Category Fraud: Hopkins won the Oscar for best lead actor despite having less than 20 minutes of screen time and playing neither the protagonist nor the main antagonist.
  • 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.
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    • Buffalo Bill says "It rubs the lotion on its skin..." not "It puts the lotion on its skin..."
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Brooe Smith was considered for Clarice Starling before being cast as Catherine Martin.
    • Anthony Heald was originally cast as Roden, though he initially sought the role of Dr. Frederick Chilton, a character that was written as being older than Roden. However, after a table reading with Jodie Foster, where he filled in as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, he was then cast as Dr. Chilton.
  • Colbert Bump: The inclusion of "Goodbye Horses" in the film gave a lot of extra attention to its performer, American Dark Wave artist Q Lazzarus.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: A very... unusual case. 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.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Jodie Foster named this as one of her favourite of her own films.
  • Deleted Scenes: Found here.
  • 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.
    • Because it was such a hassle to fasten and unfasten the front of the glass cell, Anthony Hopkins simply stayed inside until the end of each shooting day. This had the added effect of making his and Jodie Foster's performances more stand-offish because they couldn't interact between takes. In fact, Foster later specified on The Graham Norton Show that the two of them didn't interact at all at any point during production of the movie.
    • 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 phone calls, it is standard practice to film both sides separately and have the actors feign they're having a phone call. At the end of Silence, they hooked up the phone to the 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.
    • Ted Levine is visibly struggling not to break character in the scene where Catherine begs Buffalo Bill to let her go. Ted Levine and Brooke Smith had become great friends on setnote  and Ted felt terrible about having to treat her so horribly in character. When she ad-libbed the line "I wanna see my mommy!", it legitimately brought Levine to the verge of tears, and him struggling to stay in character was kept in the movie because of how chillingly it conveyed a momentary glimpse at Buffalo Bill's inner torment.
  • Genre-Killer: The book Paperbacks from Hell says that the novel being classified as a Thriller rather than Horror is considered to be what killed the trend of horror novels.
  • In Memoriam: The film was dedicated to character actor Trey Wilson.
  • Life Imitates Art: In the book, the FBI approaches Johns Hopkins, a formerly 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: Reportedly, Brian Cox, who portrayed Hannibal "Lecktor" in Manhunter, was approached to reprise the role in this movie, only for him to turn the opportunity down due to already being signed onto a stage production of King Lear at the National Theater, playing the title character. Had the offer gone through, Lecter would've been the only character to be played by the same actor in both Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs (assuming that the rest of the Manhunter cast wouldn't be approached after bringing Cox on board). By sheer coincidence, not only was Hopkins performing the same role in the same play at the same theater during production of Manhunter, but Cox and Hopkins both had the same agent at the time.
  • The Red Stapler: What the FBI was hoping for—the production received full co-operation from the agency, as they saw it as a potential recruiting tool to hire more female agents.
  • Sequel Gap: The book came out seven years after its predecessor, Red Dragon, while the film came out five years after Manhunter, the first adaptation of the earlier book.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: The film was originally scheduled for release in fall of 1990, and indeed the film's copyright notice reflects this. Orion Pictures delayed its release until late January 1991 (with the wide release not occurring until Valentine's Day of that year) 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.
    • Catherine Martin ad-libbed the line "I wanna see my mommy again!" while pleading with Buffalo Bill to let her go. Bill briefly looking like he's about to start crying is Ted Levine's genuine reaction, he and Martin had become great friends off-camera and her improvised plea legitimately brought him to the verge of tears.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Write What You Know: Anthony Hopkins' famous ad-libbed serpent hiss during the "Fava beans and a nice Chianti" scene was based off of an anecdote from his childhood, where he did the same hiss when trick-or-treating with some friends during Halloween and creeped the hell out of them.


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