Sir Anthony Hopkins crafted one of cinema’s most mesmerising
and fascinating villains with his performance as Dr Hannibal Lecter in The
Silence of the Lambs. His turn as the psychiatrist turned cannibal
serial killer won Hopkins his first and only Oscar, despite a scant 15 or so
minutes on screen to make an impact. But what an impact he made.
Other actors have portrayed Hannibal over the years yet it’s
Hopkins’ performance that remains the most enduring and iconic.
Sit down and relax with a nice glass of Chianti as we take a look back at how one of the most memorable villains in cinema history came to be.
6. His Standing To Attention When He Meets Clarice
In the scenes leading up to our introduction to Hannibal Lecter we learn enough about his reputation to be sufficiently scared. We’re given a gruesome glimpse into his appetite for murder and informed by Dr Frederick Chilton that “he’s a monster, a pure psychopath”.
The myth is bolstered by Lecter’s neighbouring inmates looming, leering and muttering lewd comments as Clarice walks the corridor to his cell. By all accounts we’re about to be confronted by a feral, gibbering maniac rocking back and forth in the corner.
But cleverly and at Hopkins’ own insistence Hannibal is standing to attention in the middle of his cell when we first meet him awaiting Clarice’s arrival and ready to greet her – and us the audience – with a penetrating gaze and a courteous “Good morning”.
In sharp contrast to his maniacal prison mates huddled in darkness or climbing the bars of their cells, Lecter is poised and self-possessed – a picture of zen-like calm in a sea of insanity. And yet somehow Hopkins’ calm and collected psychopath – all unexpected charm and proper etiquette – is far more terrifying than any of his more outwardly nutty neighbouring inmates.