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Everything You Never Knew About ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

It's been three decades since Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) terrified Clarice (Jodie Foster). How well do you know "Silence of the Lambs"?

The Silence of the Lambs

Orion Pictures

Thirty years later, and the lambs have not stopped screaming.

Before “Mindhunter” and the true crime craze, “The Silence of the Lambs” was the definitive psychological serial killer story. A young FBI agent, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), sets out to interview convicted cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in hopes to solve a high-profile kidnapping case. The hunt for Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) triggers Clarice’s personal traumas, with Hannibal at once becoming a mentor, father figure, and an iconically surly psychopath. For example, we’ve dared to try (non-human) liver and fava beans, followed by a nice chianti after Hannibal so charismatically recommended the dish. He’s just that convincing.

The 1991 film was directed by Jonathan Demme and made history as the third movie to ever sweep the “big five” Oscar categories, winning Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. (“It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” landed the same awards in 1935 and 1976, respectively.)

“The Silence of the Lambs” most famously spurred one sequel, a “Hannibalprequel series, and CBS’ “Clarice” in 2020, using the literary saga by Thomas Harris as source material. However, the original film could have looked very different due to last-minute casting changes and the assumption that the screenplay was based on a children’s book. And no, we’re not kidding.

For the 30th anniversary of “The Silence of the Lambs,” we sniffed out the most shocking facts about the film.

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