The little known secrets about Silence of the Lambs

It won five Academy Awards, featured the number one film villain of all time and has scared millions of viewers since its release in 1991.

But despite being one of the greatest and most popular films of all time, you might still be surprised by these facts about The Silence of the Lambs:

The One That Got Away

Gene Hackman turned down the film because it was too dark. Photo / Warner Bros
Gene Hackman turned down the film because it was too dark. Photo / Warner Bros

The Silence of the Lambs is based on the 1988 novel of the same name which was written by Thomas Harris.

The book was a hit and it didn't take long for Gene Hackman, who was looking for a project with which to make his directorial debut, to snap up the film rights.

"It's one of the most cinematic books I've ever read," Hackman said at the time according to Empire Online.

"As I read it, the movie was clicking in my mind."

Hackman planned to direct, produce and appear in the film as Jack Crawford, the head of the FBI's Behavioural Science Unit.

But the actor later changed his mind and decided to sell the rights, according to Jonathan Demme (who ended up directing the film).

"His (Hackman's) daughter apparently talked him out of directing the movie because she felt it was too dark and could destroy his career."

First Picks

Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer (pictured here in The Russia House) were the first picks. Photo / News Corp AU
Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer (pictured here in The Russia House) were the first picks. Photo / News Corp AU

Jodie Foster wasn't the first choice to play Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins wasn't the first choice to play Dr Hannibal Lecter.

According to the film's director, Jonathan Demme, Michelle Pfeiffer was the first choice to play the young FBI agent.

"I went right to Michelle because we'd had such a great experience on Mob (1988 movie Married to the Mob), and I felt that she could do anything," Demme said to The Daily Beast.

"I went to Meg Ryan after Michelle, because I thought she'd be terrific, but she too found it way too dark and terrifying."

As for Dr Hannibal Lecter, only one actor was offered the role before Anthony Hopkins.

"I loved Tony Hopkins from the beginning, but I was trying to be diligent and get a more commercial actor for the part because Tony didn't have the box office allure that he later gained, so I went to Sean Connery, who found the piece 'repugnant'," Demme said.

The Two Stars Were Scared Of Each Other

Turns out Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were actually terrified of each other. Photo / Supplied
Turns out Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were actually terrified of each other. Photo / Supplied

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins didn't have a single conversation during the making of the movie.

Why? Because they were terrified of each other.

"He was so scary," Foster said on The Graham Norton Show.

"I really avoided him. And then ... it was the last day and he came up to me, I sort of had a tear in my eye, and I said, 'I was really scared of you.' He said, 'I was scared of you!'"

Different Ending

The original script had a much darker ending than the one that ended up in the final version of the film.

The last scene was meant to show Dr Chilton from the Baltimore State Mental hospital getting sliced up by Hannibal Lecter.

With Dr Chilton strapped to a chair in an office, Lecter was to approach him with a small knife before saying, "Shall we begin?"

But as the director told Deadline, he felt that was "too horrifying a way to close to proceedings".

"Whatever we had done to get to that moment, that ending would've turned the movie into something else. One of those shockers that kicks you in the gut in the last minute, and then the screen goes black, and the credits roll.

"I thought, really? We're going to end the movie in some room like that? That's the image we take home with us?"

Instead, they chose to end the film with Lecter watching on as Dr Chilton lands on a plane in Haiti.

Lecter calls Clarice and says, "I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner," before Lecter follows the doctor into the crowd.

As a courtesy, the director checked with The Silence of the Lambs author, Thomas Harris, to make sure he was OK with the ending.

Harris gave his blessing but had one word of advice: "If you take Dr Lecter to the tropics, this one thing I'm sure of. He would never sweat".

"So, armed with that," Jonathan Demme said, "when you see the movie, everybody's sweating like crazy, except Dr Lecter".

Haunted House

Scott Lloyd stands on the front porch of his home which is the house used as the home of psychotic killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Photo / AP
Scott Lloyd stands on the front porch of his home which is the house used as the home of psychotic killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Photo / AP

A house that appeared in the film is struggling to sell because of its association with The Silence of the Lambs.

The five-bedroom house in Pennsylvania was featured as Buffalo Bill's home in the film and although it's attracted plenty of media attention since going on sale last year, it still hasn't sold.

The owners have even dropped the asking price from around $420,000 to $320,000.

According to AP: "The foyer and dining room were depicted in the film, but there's no pit in the basement where the killer, played by Ted Levine, kept his victims. Those grisly scenes were filmed on a sound stage."

Short But Sweet

Anthony Hopkins was only Hannibal Lecter for 16 minutes on screen, but still got an Oscar. Photo / Supplied
Anthony Hopkins was only Hannibal Lecter for 16 minutes on screen, but still got an Oscar. Photo / Supplied

Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Dr Hannibal Lecter, which is fairly remarkable given he only appeared on screen for 16 minutes.

It's the second shortest on-screen appearance by an actor who went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

David Niven picked up an Oscar for his 15 minutes of screen time in the 1958 film, Separate Tables.

- news.com.au

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