ByDavid Jensen, writer at
David Jensen

The Silence of the Lambs was one of those films that leaves a deep impression on not just the individual, but society as a whole. Until you see the masterpiece with your own eyes, you will never really get how impeccably directed, acted, and written of film it is. It became the third movie in history to sweep the Oscars in 1992, winning best picture, best screenplay, best actor in a leading role: Anthony Hopkins, best actress in a leading role: Jodie Foster, and best director: Jonathan Demme.

Even though many think of it as just another slasher movie or psychological thriller, The Silence of the Lambs is much more than that, and there are many hidden elements that go into making a movie like this. Lets look at 10 things you may not know about The Silence of the Lambs.

1. Anthony Hopkins Improvised Lines

Hopkins adding his personal touch
Hopkins adding his personal touch

In the famous scene where Clarice first comes to visit Hannibal Lecter in his cell, he gives this very creepy monologue. It was Hopkins' first day on set and the crew was still waiting to find out if they had cast the right actor...

Apparently the scripted dialogue wasn't creepy enough and Hopkins decided to improvise the slurping sound at the end. Safe to say all casting doubts were gone after the first day.

2. They Used Real Actresses For the Dead Victims

All the bodies pictured are real actors not props..
All the bodies pictured are real actors not props..

Despite what you may think, none of the bodies in the scenes or pictures are in the film are props, but real actors who had to sit through hours of makeup, in the nude, wherever the scene was. In some cases actress's had to lie in the mud of a swamp for hours while the makeup artists worked on them.

These actresses are some of the unsung heroes that give this film such a realistic and gritty feel to it. It goes to show that life of an actor isn't always all that glamorous.

3. Jodie Foster Pursued the Role Before Early On

Clarice Starling
Clarice Starling

Jodie Foster is one of those Actors who doesn't just take any role that comes along, she pursues specific characters that are in line with her goals and ideals as a person. Especially in the case of Clarice, Jodie Foster had read the book by Thomas Harris in 1988 and knew she would want to be the character before the script was even written.

She figured out that Orion pictures had the film rights and put her name in the running with screenwriter, Ted Tally, who loved Foster for the part, even though she wasn't Director, Jonathan Demme's first choice...

4. Michelle Pfeiffer Turned Down the Role of Clarice

Missed our on the Role of a Lifetime
Missed our on the Role of a Lifetime

Having worked on Married to the Mob together, Michelle Pfeiffer was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. She ended up turning down the role because she thought the script was too violent. She may have missed out on the role of a lifetime and an Oscar.

Although I'm glad Jodie Foster ended up being Clarice, it would have been interesting to see what Pfeiffer could have done with the part. But she wasn't the only one to turn down a huge part in The Silence of the Lambs...

5. Gene Hackman Was Supposed to Direct and Star

Would have been a completely different movie
Would have been a completely different movie

After Orion pictures bought the rights to The Silence of the Lambs screenplay, Gene Hackman originally was signed on to direct and star as Hannibal Lecter. He decided, just like Michelle Pfeiffer, that the script was too violent to be involved in.

Although The Royal Tenenbaums is very talented, it would be hard to see him in such a role, and The direction the Jonathan Demme had with the film is really what made the movie so special.

6. People Protested At the Oscars in 1992

During the 1992 Academy awards LGBT protesters came to to oppose The Silence of the Lambs. The protesters felt that Hollywood was hateful of the homosexual community and that the film painted a negative picture for the gay and transexual community.

Although the film was never meant to have a negative tone towards the LGBT community, it did upset a certain part of the community. Jonathan Demmes next film was Philadelphia, an homage to the people affected by hatred in the LGBT community.

7. A Cell Phone Went Off During the Most Important Scene

In the middle of one of the most important scenes of the film, Clarice reveals to Hannibal her story of why she is so determined and what she is afraid of. It is an intense scene with extreme close-ups and extreme tension.

What most people don't know is that in the middle of Clarice's close up when she is telling the story, a crew members cellphone went off and interrupted the scene. Demme continued filming and Foster picked up her lines exactly where she left off before the interruption keeping the exact same tone. Impressive.

8. The Original Opening Sequence Was Totally Different

The original opening sequence for The Silence of the Lambs was supposed to have Clarice bursting into a room and clearing it with a gun before being captured and revealed to be an exercise.

They ended up changing this sequence to be Clarice running alone in the woods to make her character feel more alone on the journey.

9. Jack Crawford is based on a real FBI profiler

Played by Scott Glenn
Played by Scott Glenn

The Character of Jack Crawford is based on real FBI expert and profiler, John Douglass. The Author of The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, Thomas Harris did research with the FBI and John Douglas.

Douglas worked with and trained both Jodie Foster and Scott Glenn for the roles. They even trained with other FBI agents in the facilities in order to prepare the actors for the roles.

Douglas even went as far as making Scott Glenn listen to recorded tapes of serial kidnappers who tortured their victims. Gnarly...

10. They Filmed and on Location with real FBI Agents and Facilities

FBI Headquarters. Quantico, Virginia
FBI Headquarters. Quantico, Virginia

In an effort to encourage more female trainees, the FBI gave the cast and crew full reign to use their entire academy as a set. They had actual trainees work on the movie as extras and background during filming, and tried to put their female recruits at the forefront. Go ladies!

Jodies Foster worked extensively with trainers within the FBI to learn how to handle weapons and better understand her character of Clarice to portray her as the hero she was. Both she and her character are amazing examples of tenacity for women everywhere. Go Jodie.

It looks like the lambs stopped screaming...
It looks like the lambs stopped screaming...

Well it's been over 20 years since The Silence of the Lambs was released, but it's impact remains the same as the day we first saw it. Knowing a little more about what goes into creating such a fantastic film is such a treat no matter how old it gets.

What were some of your favorite moments or unknown facts about The Silence of the Lambs?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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