The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American psychological horror movie directed by Johnathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott Glenn. The movie was adapted by Ted Tally from the 1988 novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, his second to feature the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and a cannibalistic serial killer. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about The Silence of the Lambs.
1. The Silence of the Lambs was the second adaption of a Harris novel featuring Lecter, preceded by the Michael Mann-directed “Manhunter” in 1986.
2. The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14th, 1991, and grossed $272.7 million worldwide against its $19 million budget.
3. In preparation for his role, Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killers.
4. With 24 minutes and 52 seconds of screentime, Anthony Hopkins’ performance in The Silence of the Lambs is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in “Separate Tales” beating him, at 23 minutes and 39 seconds.
5. When Anthony Hopkins’ agent called him in London, to tell him that he was sending him a script called “The Silence of the Lambs,” Hopkins immediately thought that he might be going up for a children’s movie.
6. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the movie.
7. After Jodie Foster first read the Thomas Harris novel, she tried to buy the rights herself, only to find Gene Hackman had beaten her to it.
8. The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel, and serial killer Ted Bundy.
9. The real-life F.B.I.’s Behavioral Science Unit assisted in the making of the movie.
10. When Jonathan Demme filmed the scene where Lecter and Starling first meet, Anthony Hopkins said he should look directly at the camera, as it panned into his line of sight. He felt Lecter should be portrayed as “knowing everything.”
11. Notoriously private and shy, Thomas Harris declined the opportunity to be involved in the movie in any way, though he did wish the cast and crew the best of luck with the adaption.
12. Anthony Hopkins said that he saw Lecter as similar To H.A.L. 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey“. A highly complex, highly intelligent, highly logical killing machine, who seems to know everything going on around him.
13. The pattern on the moth’s back, in the movie posters, is not the natural pattern of the Death’s head hawkmoth. It’s, in fact, Salvador Dali’s “In Voluptas Mors,” a picture of seven naked women made to look like a human skull.
14. The Silence of the Lambs surpassed its budget in its first week of release.
15. After being cast as Jame Gumb, Ted Levine developed his character by reading profiles of serial killers. Levine later said that he found the material very disturbing. Since Gumb was a crossdresser, he went to a few trans bars and interviewed some patrons.
16. Within 10 years of the release of the movie, the building used for the exterior of Lecter’s asylum had been shut down and demolished. The footage from the movie was re-used to create the establishing shots used in “Red Dragon.”
17. The first moth cocoon found in one of the victim’s throats was made from a combination of Tootsie Rolls and gummy bears, so it would be edible if swallowed.
18. The movie was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December, 2011, as being, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
19. During location scouting for the house, in which the serial killer Jame Gumb was living, Ted Levine, who played Jame, was amazed to discover that the house being considered was not only in the town where he grew up but was literally next door to the house of his high school girlfriend.
20. When studying the character he played, Anthony Hopkins noticed similar characteristics in reptiles. For example, reptiles only blink when they want to, and they do it consciously.
21. Brooke Smith and Ted Levine were actually very close on the set, making Jodie Foster refer to Brooke Smith as Patricia Hearst, a kidnapping victim who later fell in love with her kidnapper.
22. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is rated as the number one villain on the American Film Institute’s 100 years … 100 Heroes and Villains list.
23. The Tobacco hornworm moths used throughout the movie were given a celebrity treatment. They were flown first class to the set in a special carrier, had special living quarters, and were dressed in carefully designed costumes.
24. Almost all the scenes in Hannibal’s original cell have either a reflection of Hannibal or Clarice, depending on the camera’s point of view.
25. Brooke Smith gained 25 pounds for her role as Catherine Martin.
26. The rules for speaking with Hannibal Lecter are the same as the rules for speaking with Ethan Powell in “Instinct”, a role also played by Hopkins.
27. Brooke Smith entered in and out of the pit by crouching through a small door that was half her size. It was then covered with dirt to keep it out of sight of the camera.
28. Jodie Foster avoided Anthony Hopkins during their scenes together because she was terrified of him.
29. The Silence of the Lambs is the first movie widely available on home video at the time of the Academy Awards ceremony to win Best Picture.
30. The revolver that Jame Gumb uses is a Colt Python, which is double action. This means that in the dark scene, all he would have had to do was pull the trigger, he wouldn’t have had to pull the hammer back.