Anthony Hopkins Recalls Thinking 'Silence of the Lambs' Was a Children's Story When He Received Script

Anthony Hopkins reflected on his role in Silence of the Lambs in a virtual chat with costar Jodie Foster

Anthony Hopkins had a very different understanding about The Silence of the Lambs at first.

The 83-year-old actor and costar Jodie Foster recently reunited virtually for Variety's annual Actors on Actors series, where Hopkins revealed that he thought the psychological horror was a children's story after first being sent the script.

"Is it a children's story?" he recalls thinking. "I was in London in 1989, doing a play called M. Butterfly. My agent sent the script."

After 10 pages, Variety reports, Hopkins called his agent back, asking if it was a real offer, declaring to his agent: "This is the best script I've ever read."

"I read the rest of the script, and Jonathan [Demme, the director] came over on a Saturday afternoon and we had dinner," said Hopkins, who won the Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in 1992. "And I said, 'Is this for real?' And he said, 'Yeah.' I said, 'Okay.' He was such a wonderful guy to work with. "

"I couldn't believe my luck, and I was scared to speak to you," he told Foster, 58. "I thought, 'She just won an Oscar, ' " Hopkins added, referring to Fosters' Oscar win in 1989 for The Accused.

Silence of the Lambs reunion
Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster. Variety

During the pair's virtual chat, Hopkins admitted that he was "nervous" about taking on the role of Hannibal Lecter — until Demme assured him he was the perfect fit for the job.

"I was naturally nervous, an Englishman — a limey like me, a Welshman — playing an American serial killer," Hopkins recalled. "And I remember Jonathan, when the camera picked me up, he said, 'Oh, my God. That's it. Hopkins. You're so weird!' And I said, 'Why, thank you.' And they wanted the lighting girl to come into my cell, and I said, 'What are you doing in my cell?' And [Jonathan] said, 'Oh, my God.' So I knew I had pressed the right button. Once you got that button, hold on to it — and go with it."

Foster said that the film was "a life-changing adventure" for both she and Hopkins, before asking her costar, "I'm sure you still get people who come up to you and say, 'Would you like a nice Chianti?' "

"Oh yeah," Hopkins said. "They do."

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