The Silence of the Lambs is one of the best horror movies of all time, and Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal Lector still makes our skin crawl to this day. Many of his scenes are, of course, opposite Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling, the FBI agent sent to interview Lector as a way of helping a different case. The actors' exchanges are electric, with their first meeting remaining an iconic moment in cinema, and despite the fact that it’s been 30 years since they worked together, Hopkins still fondly remembers working with his younger co-star.
Speaking with People, Hopkins opened up about filming The Silence of the Lambs, and what he remembered about working with the Taxi Driver actress. While a significant amount of time has passed, Hopkins was still emphatic in his praise for Foster's approach to acting, as well as her personal character. In his words:
She's lovely. What's wonderful about Jodie is that, great actor that she is, she has no entourage. She just comes on the set and does it. Very laid back. Very cool. What I like about her, she's very practical.
This mutual respect, as well as their individual acting techniques, comes across on screen, where conversations between Hannibal and Clarice resemble ping pong, with power dynamics changing over time. Hopkins could not be more menacing, but Foster still holds her own and never seems meek when she faces Lector. They have great chemistry as scene partners, despite the antagonistic nature between their characters. The film remains a fan favorite, with both actors earning Oscars for their work in the film, which is still the only horror movie to win Best Picture.
While many of Hopkins' scenes are with Foster, there is constantly a separation between the actors. Hannibal Lector is a convicted serial killer, so he is often behind bars or a large wall of plexiglass. The separation is even more intense considering how director Jonathan Demme shot the film.
Behind-the-scenes stories from Silence of the Lambs reveal that many of their lines were filmed directly to camera rather than to each other, which must’ve made it slighly more difficult to build their complex dynamic. However both actors do so wonderfully, and Foster’s “no nonsense” approach, which Hopkins states still had a laidback quality, likely helped make it pop.
Both have yet to reunite on the big screen, and the iconic nature (and legal knotting) of Thomas Harris' characters may make it difficult for them to share a scene again in those specific roles. However, the former co-stars reunited in 2021 for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, featuring one of the rare times over the years where they discussed their experience together.
While on The Graham Norton Show, Foster admitted that she avoided talking to Hopkins while they were filming, as she was fearful of both the actor and his character. Even though they may not have been fast friends behind the scenes, that kind of relationship clearly were not needed for Hopkins to see what a hard working and focused actor Foster was.
Fans can revisit Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s award winning performances in The Silence of the Lambs, which is currently streaming with a Max subscription, which is where fans can also watch her tackling her latest on-screen murders in True Detective: Night Country. Netflix subscribers can also check out Foster in her latest film, Nyad, while Hopkins' latest film Freud's Last Session is now playing in theaters nationwide. For more information on other films heading to cinemas and streaming in the near future, make sure to consult our 2024 movie release schedule.