Jodie Foster won her second Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs, but the dynamic actress almost wasn’t cast in the film — and the shoot with her famed co-star Anthony Hopkins (who played Hannibal Lecter) went differently than fans of the film might expect. While doing a Q&A session about the movie at the British Film Institute, Foster revealed how she landed the role as FBI agent Clarice Starling and why she only worked with her co-star briefly on set.
Foster reveals that there was a sizeable chance that she would not have played Starling even though she desperately wanted the role. She reveals, “I had just won an Oscar so I thought I’ve got a shot. It was going to be directed by Gene Hackman, who was going to play Crawford and he read the first draft [but] said that it was too violent and he dropped out. I thought I’d be considered to direct but the studio said that the next director was going to be Jonathan Demme and he’s not interested in you. I was devastated. So, I got on a plane and I said to him I want to be your second choice and eventually got the role.”
Though the interplay between Lecter and Starling is one of the most memorable aspects of the movie, Foster admits that the two actually didn’t work much with each other on set. She says, “I did the whole first part of the movie without him; he went off [after rehearsal] to go and shoot another movie. He only shot for 7 or 10 days or maybe even less. I never saw him until halfway through the movie. Much of the dialogue is straight to camera, a Hitchcock technique so some days I never even saw him. It was the last day of shooting and I was eating a tuna fish sandwich and I said ‘I was a little scared of you’ and he said ‘I was scared of you’ and then we had a big hug.”