1. His Distinctive, Creepy Voice
We’ve probably all imitated Hannibal Lecter’s creepily well-spoken voice before with an over-the-top execution of a “Good evening, Clariiice” or an “I ate his liver with some fava bean and a nice chianti, slurp-slurp-slurp” or two. It is, after all, one of the most distinctive aspects of Hopkins’ performance but where he drew inspiration from in crafting his character’s unique accent from is quite surprising.
According to Hopkins, Hannibal’s voice came to him quite intuitively and he knew almost immediately after reading the script the kind of cadence his cannibal killer would have – a curious combination of actress Katherine Hepburn, author Truman Capote and the sentient computer HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, who was voiced by Canadian stage actor Douglas Rain.
Dropping his gentle Welsh brogue, Hopkins affected an accent that comprised elements of Hepburn’s clipped, mid-Atlantic twang mixed with Capote’s sing-song lilt (minus that notoriously high pitch of his, obviously) and HAL’s clinically calm tone that’s at once both soothing and sinister.
It’s a highly effective well of inspiration that culminates in a voice that’s perfectly illustrative of Hannibal’s haughty confidence, cold detachment and superior intelligence and so brilliantly executed and iconic that it’s hard to imagine Hannibal Lecter with any other voice.