The Silence Of The Lambs: 10 Crazy Facts You Never Knew About The 1991 Classic

How well do you know Jodie Foster's masterpiece?

Cannibal Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs
Cannibal Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. Image Orion Pictures

Silence Of The Lambs became an instant classic upon its release in 1991, and it’s widely regarded as one of the greatest films of the decade.

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster won Oscars for their performances as Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, and the movie remains hugely popular to this day.

It’s one of the most successful horror films ever, but how well do you know the movie?

Discover ten amazing facts about The Silence Of The Lambs below…


1

Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her performance as Clarice Starling, but she wasn’t the first choice for the role. According to director Jonathan Demme, over 300 people applied for the part. Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer allegedly turned the role down due to the disturbing nature of the film. Halle Berry wanted the role, but never got the chance to audition. She later claimed that producers wouldn’t consider her because of her race.

2

Gene Hackman was originally in line to direct the movie and star as Hannibal Lecter. He later decided against it due to the disturbing subject material. Jodie Foster had originally tried to buy the rights to the Thomas Harris novel, and lobbied to play Clarice after learning Hackman had got there before her.

3

There was an off-Broadway musical inspired by the movie staged in 2005 called Silence! The Musical. The award-winning parody was created by Jon and Al Kaplan, and featured such classic songs as Quid Pro Quo and Put the F*cking Lotion in the Basket.

4

The famous slurping sound Hannibal Lecter performs throughout the film was an original idea from Anthony Hopkins. He did it spontaneously during filming, and it ended up becoming one of Hannibal’s signature mannerisms. The noise was allegedly inspired by a similar sound made by Bela Lugosi in the film Dracula.

5

Hopkins won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Hannibal, despite only appearing on-screen for a total of 24 minutes and 52 seconds. It’s the second shortest performance to ever win an Oscar, behind David Niven in Separate Tables. Surprisingly, Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes together during the course of the film.

6

Silence Of The Lambs is one of only three films to ever win Oscars for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay (Adapted). The others are It Happened One Night and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s also the only horror move to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

7

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” – everyone remembers the film’s most famous line, but few people actually picked up on the fact that it’s a very subtle joke.

As Reddit user mrcchapman explains, “most people don’t realise Dr Hannibal Lecter is making a medical joke.

“Lecter could be treated with drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors – MAOIs. As a psychiatrist, Lecter knows this. The three things you can’t eat with MAOIs? Liver, beans, wine. Lecter is a) cracking a joke for his own amusement, and b) saying he’s not taking his meds.”

In the book Hannibal actually says Amarone and not Chianti – Amarone would actually be a better pairing for liver than Chianti. However, movie executives didn’t think film fans would have heard of the wine.

8

The FBI helped with the making of the film. The organisation co-operated fully with filmmakers as the believed the movie could encourage more women to sign up as agents.

9

One of cinema’s most terrifying villains, Buffalo Bill is a combination of real serial killers Ed Gein, Ted Bundy and Gary Heidnik. Gain skinned his victims, Bundy used a cast on his hand to lure women into his van and Heidnik kept kidnapped women in a pit in his basement.

10

Sean Connery was Demme’s first choice to play Hannibal, and Jeremy Irons also turned down the part before it was handed to Hopkins. John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd, Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Stewart, Louis Gossett Jr, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson were also considered for the famous role.

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Loaded staff writer Harry Fletcher has covered news, sport and entertainment for several major websites across the UK. Follow him on Twitter at @Harry__Fletcher.