Jonathan Demme's first choice for Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter turned down the film as he thought it was 'disgusting'

He was kind of pleased about it though

Christopher Hooton
Thursday 27 April 2017 11:56
Comments

Anthony Hopkins gave one of the most memorable performances in The Silence of the Lambs as Hannibal Lecter, playing the murderous doctor with an unsettling calmness and wit.

He was actually second choice for the part though, and only received the script after it was turned down by Sean Connery (who I really can't imagine in the role).

Recounting the casting process to Deadline last year, Demme, who died this week at the age of 73, sounded as though his heart wasn't really in the Connery pick, and that he was pleased when the Bond actor flatly turned the film down.

"Everybody at Orion had tremendous respect for [Hopkins as an actor," he recalled. "But everybody wanted to play that part, gosh, from Dustin Hoffman to Morgan Freeman. There was tremendous interest.

"Sean Connery was the only other person I thought could be amazing for this. Connery has that fierce intelligence and also that serious physicality. I love Tony Hopkins, but Sean Connery could be amazing.

"So to take the most commercial path, because Connery was flying very high at the time, we sent the script to Sean Connery first. Word came back shortly that he thought it was disgusting and wouldn’t dream of playing that part. So, great, now we can go to Tony Hopkins."

He added of the "electric" first read-through with Hopkins: "All the executives were there. There was electricity in that room, coming off of what Hopkins was doing. He had found Lecter, and I remember when he delivered the last line. The room was just silent. And my producer, Kenny Utt, just goes, real quiet, “Oh…yeah!”

"I realized the actual bottom line truth of doing Silence of the Lambs, something I felt when I read that book. I thought, this could be the scariest movie ever, and I wanted to make that movie. I wanted to make a Psycho caliber fu*king terrifying movie."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in