Behind The Scenes Saturday: The Silence of The Lambs

Welcome to week 6 of Behind The Scenes Saturday! I’m so sorry I missed last week. It was a combination of sickness, procrastination, and a birthday celebration. I’m currently playing catch-up with all of my writing, and I’m finally getting this out in time. I wanted to do The Silence of The Lambs this week because, it was just a perfect film from beginning to end. Enjoy!

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

(SPOILER ALERT!!!)

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  • According to Jodie Foster (Clarice), during the filming of Clarice and Hannibal’s first interaction, Anthony Hopkins mocked her southern accent on the spot. Foster felt personally attacked and her horrified expression was genuine. After the scene was filmed, she ended up thanking Hopkins for generating an honest response from her.
  • During the scene where Lecter is transferred to Memphis, he was originally supposed to wear a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Anthony Hopkins was the one who convinced the director, Johnathan Demme, and costume designer, Colleen Atwood, to have Lecter dress in pure white. He got the idea from his fear of dentists and felt pure white would make Lecter seem more clinical and unsettling.
  • When you watch the film, you’ll notice that when different characters are talking to Clarice, they’re usually talking directly into the camera. However, when she’s talking to them, she’s always looking slightly off-camera. This was done on purpose. Johnathan Demme wanted audiences to identify with her character more than the others, so he wanted them to experience her point-of-view, but not theirs.
  • The FBI saw the film as a potential recruitment tool for hiring more female agents. Because of this, the production received full cooperation from the FBI. 
  • Before filming, Jodie Foster spent a large amount of time with an FBI agent named Mary Ann Krause. Krause was the one who gave Foster the idea of Clarice standing by her car and crying. Krause told her that the work would sometimes get so overwhelming, and it was a good way to get an emotional release.

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  • One of the most memorable parts in the film was when Lecter made the fast slurping sound after talking about eating a census taker. That sound was actually improvised by Anthony Hopkins during filming, and everyone on set loved it. 
  • When Anthony Hopkins got the call from his agent and was told he was going to be sent a script called The Silence of The Lambs, he initially thought the script was for a children’s film.
  • During Clarice’s final meeting with Dr. Lecter, she told him about her running away when she was young. In the middle of her story, she mentioned taking a lamb with her to save it from getting slaughtered. When she says, “I thought if I could save just one…”, if you listen closely, you might be able to hear something being dropped in the background. That’s because a crew member ended up dropping a wrench. Johnathan Demme was so worried the take would be ruined, however Jodie Foster didn’t break character and continued with the scene. It wasn’t until Demme said “cut” that Foster turned to look at the crew and yelled, “What the HELL was that?!
  • Jame Gumb’s dance scene was in the novel, but it was originally left out of the script’s first draft. Ted Levine (Jame Gumb) thought the scene was essential to defining his character, so on his insistence, the scene was added.
  • The moth cocoon in one of the victim’s throats was made out of Tootsie Rolls and Gummy Bears. They wanted to make it edible in case it was accidentally swallowed.

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  • At Jodie Foster’s audition, she purposefully walked down a corridor to meet Johnathan Demme. He liked her “air of determination” and he was convinced she was PERFECT for Clarice Starling.
  • When he was cast as Jame Gumb, Ted Levine researched for his role by reading the profiles of different serial killers, and he found the material very disturbing. He also went to a few trans bars and interviewed some patrons, since Gumb was a crossdresser and believed himself to be a transsexual.
  • After Scott Glenn worked with John Douglas for some time, he thanked Douglas, saying it was fascinating to have been allowed into his world. Douglas told Glenn that if he really wanted to be in his world, he should listen to an audio tape of serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris. That tape contained the killers raping, torturing, and killing two teenage girls. Glenn didn’t listen to one minute of the tape before turning it off. He felt he lost a sense of innocence after listening to it, and he has never been able to forget what he heard.
  • When Clarice was telling Lecter about running away, there was actually supposed to be a flashback scene. The crew was supposed to film the runaway attempt in Montana. However, when they filmed Jodie Foster telling the story, Johnathan Demme felt it was unnecessary to cut away from her and Anthony Hopkins’ performances. After filming their dialogue, he said, “I guess we aren’t going to Montana”.
  • Brooke Smith (Catherine Martin) and Ted Levine became very close on set. Jodie Foster referred to Brooke as Patricia Hearst, a woman who was kidnapped and ended up falling in love with her kidnapper.

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  • For her role as Catherine Martin, Brooke Smith gained 25 pounds.
  • Jodie Foster, Johnathan Demme, Scott Glenn, and a few others involved in the film did research at the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia. They sat in many classes, studied under criminal profiling agents, and learned about firearms.
  • In the pit that Catherine Martin was trapped in, there was a small door that Brooke Smith crawled through to get in and out. The door was about half her size, and, during filming, it was covered with dirt so it wasn’t noticeable.
  • Anthony Hopkins saw The Silence of The Lambs as a “last ditch effort” to really break out in Hollywood. Before this film, he never quite reached A-list status, despite acting since the 1960s. If The Silence of The Lamb didn’t boost his career, he would’ve quit acting in Hollywood, and turned his focus to “the British stage”. The film ended up being a huge success and even earned him his first Academy Award win for Best Actor!
  • Legendary horror director, John Carpenter, once stated his disappointment in the film focusing so much on Clarice’s character. He said he would’ve loved to make the film much more frightening and gripping.

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  • Speaking of legendary horror directors, George Romero actually has a small cameo in this film! He was the bearded man who accompanied Dr. Chilton and the two guards who forcibly removed Clarice from her final meeting with Lecter.
  • For legal reasons, some of the characters originally had to have different names than the names in the novel. Jack Crawford was Ray Campbell, Fredrick Chilton was Herbert Prentiss, and Hannibal Lecter was Gideon Quinn. These names were obviously changed back.
  • Fangoria Magazine was barred from covering the film because Orion and the filmmakers felt that the magazine’s horror reputation would hurt the film’s chances during award season. To this day, people still refuse to acknowledge the film as a horror film.
  • There are clues that point to Lecter using his escape to also help Clarice track Jame Gumb down. For starters, he mutilated one of the guards by tearing flaps of skin off of his back and displayed them like wings. This was a hint towards Jame’s obsession with moths. Then, he tears the other guard’s face off to use as a mask. This was a hint that Jame was tearing the skin off of his victims to wear. Finally, he switched clothes with one of the guards, hinting that Jame switched homes and now lived in his victim’s house. Ok, that last one may be a bit of a stretch, but the other two make sense!
  • There was an alternate ending that showed Lecter on the phone with Clarice, and after he hung up, Dr. Chilton was shown tied to a chair. Lecter held a knife and asked, “Shall we begin?” Before the screen went black. Johnathan Demme thought the ending was too “icky” and had it changed to the one we all know.

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