Legendary film critic Gene Siskel might have dismissed it as a “star-studded freak show”, but 1991’s Silence of the Lambs is now considered one of the greatest thrillers of all time. And, at the Oscars the following year, it became only the third film in movie history to win the “Big Five” awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay.
Those two Oscar-winning stars were of course Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins, who stole the show as the terrifying cannibalistic murderer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (despite appearing on screen for less than 17 minutes). And, reportedly, it wasn’t just the movie’s audience who were utterly terrified of him.
In an interview in 2016, Jodie Foster confirmed that on set she never spoke a single word to Hopkins while he was dressed as Dr. Lecter because she was so scared of him.
Her only scenes with him are those set in the high-security insane asylum in which Lecter was ultimately imprisoned, and by the time she arrived on set each day, Hopkins was already locked in his glass-fronted cell ready to shoot. “We got to the end of the movie and, really, we’d never had a conversation,” she explained. “I avoided him as much as I could.”
Finally, on the last day of shooting together, Foster worked up the courage to tearfully explain to Hopkins that she had not spoken to him during filming because she was so afraid of him—only to find out that Hopkins had thought the same: He had been terrified of her steely, endlessly determined FBI Agent, Clarice Starling.