The Silence of the Lamps won four Oscars in 1991. One of them went to Sir . He won the trophy for Best Actor in a Leading Role which is quite interesting as his Hannibal Lector is on screen only about 25 minutes of the movie. That's how good the actor was.
It seems quite impossible now to imagine anyone but Hopkins reminiscing about the time when he ate someone's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti ts ts ts ts...
But like any other movie The Silence of the Lamps had a proper casting process for the role. At the end of said process stood three British thesps. One of them obviously was Hopkins.
Now (Gladiator) revealed the remaining two contenders in his autobiography, As Luck Would Have It (via The Wrap). Jacobi was one of them, of course, while the last candidate was none other than .
While I think that Jacobi wouldn't have been that different from Hopkins in the role (Jacobi would disaggree, as he writes "Goodness knows how it would have turned out if I had played the part, but I would have been malevolent in a very different way"), I can't imagine what Day-Lewis would have done with it.
The lean actor, nowadays probably of mostly as the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln, was quite young back in the day and looks completely different than Hopkins.
It would definitely have been fascinating hearing him talk to Clariiiiice... there you go, I am saying that in Hopkins' voice again.
Whom would you have cast as Lector in The Silence of the Lambs? Feel free to throw in more names than those three...