Robert DeNiro And Al Pacino Were In The Running To Play Hannibal Lecter

"You talkin' to me, Clarice?"

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Some characters are hard to imagine as any actor other than the one immortalised in our memory, but Hannibal Lecter might have looked very different according to Jodie Foster.

Foster was promoting the re-release of The Silence of the Lambs at a Q&A at the British Film Institute and spoke about some previously unknown details regarding the original film.

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One bombshell she dropped was that Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman were all in consideration for the role of Hannibal Lecter, a part that eventually went to Anthony Hopkins, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar.

The reason Hopkins won in the end, Foster explained, was that director Jonathan Demme wanted a British actor for the role.

"Lecter is a manipulator and has a way of using language to keep people at bay," she said. "You wanted to see that Shakespearean monster. That's why we jumped the pond."

Foster also spoke about the limited time she had working with Hopkins:

"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 seven 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."

Perhaps most interestingly of all, Foster herself nearly didn't land the role of Clarice Starling after Gene Hackman dropped out as director:

"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.

What might of been, eh?