ByKristina Mercado, writer at
Horror film fan, self-proclaimed nerd, entertainer of the masses
Kristina Mercado

Happy 25th Anniversary! As of February 14th (yes it was released on Valentine's Day), The Silence of the Lambs turns 25! Being a film that transcends the decades and warms the hearts of thriller lovers, let's check out 13 things you probably didn't know about Silence of the Lambs.

1. The Famous Moth on The Poster Was Inspired by Salvador Dali

The Silence of the Lambs' movie poster is easily one of the most recognized movie posters of all time. Part of what makes this poster great is the symbolism mixed with an homage. The moth across Clarice's mouth is a clear nod to the Death's Head Hawkmoth cocoon found in the mouth of one of our victims. However, if you look closer at the poster, you will see that the skull on the moth is composed of seven naked female bodies. It’s an homage to a photo of Salvador Dali by Phillippe Halsman titled 'In Voluptate Mors', which means "pleasure in death" or "voluptuous death" in Latin.

2. Anthony Hopkins Was Not The First Actor to Play Hannibal Lecter

The honor of playing Hannibal Lecter went to Brian Cox (above), in Michael Mann's 1986 Manhunter, the first screen adaptation of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon.

Here is a look at the original Dr. Lecter at work.

3. The First Film to Feature Dr. Lecter Was a Flop

Manhunter was an epic flop at the box office. It cost 15 million dollars to make, but only earned 8.6 million at the box office. It did so poorly, the producer, Dino de Laurentiis, wanted absolutely nothing to do with the sequel and gave away the rights to Hannibal Lecter's character for free. He was later quoted as saying that was a "big mistake".

4. Anthony Hopkins Was Not The First Choice to Play Hannibal Lecter

The role of Hannibal Lecter was originally offered to Sean Connery. When he turned it down, Jeremy Irons was offered the role next, followed by Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jack Nicholson. They finally settled on Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar for Best Actor for this role.

5. Anthony Hopkins Became Sir Anthony Hopkins Because of The Silence of the Lambs

In 1993 Anthony Hopkins was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his service in the arts. Many attribute his role as Dr. Lecter as the tipping point for receiving this honor.

6. Hopkins Improvised the Infamous Hissing Sound

Anthony Hopkins added the now iconic hissing sound after describing eating a liver with fava beans and chianti wine. Hopkins stated his inspiration for this sound came from a scene in Dracula when Bella Lugosi made a similar sound.

7. Agent Jack Crawford Was Based on a Real FBI Agent

Jack Crawford was based on real-life FBI serial-killer profiler John Douglas. To give his character more depth and realism, Scott Glenn (left) met with Douglas; Douglas gave him an audiotape to help him understand what he had to deal with as a serial criminal profiler. The tape was a recording two serial killers made of themselves torturing a teenage victim. Glenn could not make it past a minute of the recording.

8. Buffalo Bill's Character Was Derived From Three Serial Killers

The inspiration for Buffalo Bill's character came from Gary Heidnik (L), Ted Bundy (M), and Ed Gein (R). Heidnik tortured female victims in a pit in his basement, Ted Bundy wore a fake cast on his arm to lull his victims into a false sense of security, and Ed Gein liked to wear the hides of skinned corpses.

9. The Moth Cocoons Were Edible

The director was worried that the actress who had to have a moth cocoon pulled from her mouth would accidentally swallow it, so they made them out of Tootsie Rolls and Gummi Bears

10. Even the Moths Had Costumes

The moths used in the film were not actually Death's Head Hawkmoths (left), they were Tobacco Hornworm Moths (right). The costume designers painted skulls on acrylic nails and glued them to the back of the moths.

11. Jame Gumb's Infamous Dance Was Improvised

Ted Levine came up with the idea for the naked dance as a way to show how desperately Jame Gumb wanted to be someone else.

12. The Silence of the Lambs is One of Three Films to Take Home "The Big Five"

Only three films to date have taken home Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay: The Silence of the Lambs (1991), One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and It Happened One Night (1934).

13. It Is The Only Horror Film to Win Best Picture

The Silence of the Lambs is the only Horror/Thriller film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The only true horror film to be nominated for Best Picture was The Exorcist (1973).

Did I miss any of your favorite facts about The Silence of the Lambs? Let me know in the comments!


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