Jodie Foster declared that The Silence Of The Lambs is a “timeless” film that is still “relevant” today as she introduced the Jonathan Demme-directed movie to an audience at the British Film Institute (BFI).
In a wide-ranging Q&A on Friday to promote the re-release of the film in the UK, Foster, who played FBI trainee Clarice Starling in the 1991 movie, lifted the lid on the challenges of making the film, the casting of Anthony Hopkins as well as details of her latest project – an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix series Black Mirror.
Foster said that she had originally wanted the role because she had been playing characters that were victims.
“For me, it was so important to make there was a healing process, to finally playing a woman who saves the women.
“The film is still relevant today. We are moving forward and we’re at a very painful and interesting place in our conscious whether it’s about violence or race,” she added.
“If you think of the mythology the film comes from: the prince whose country is suffering from an illness. He goes into the forest and battles monsters and trolls to bring back a panacea and realises once he’s cured his people, he can never be one of his people again. That story has never been reserved for women.
Foster had originally approached producer Orion Pictures after discovering it had optioned Thomas Harris’ book.
“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,” she added.
She revealed that a number of U.S actors, including Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, had been considered for the role of Hannibal Lecter, but that Demme wanted a Brit.
“Lecter is a manipulator and has a way of using language to keep people at bay… you wanted to see that Shakespearean monster. That’s why we jumped the pond.”
However, Foster admitted that she and Hopkins didn’t film together much during the shoot.
“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.”
Foster’s next project is an episode of Black Mirror, the House of Tomorrow-produced anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. She is directing an episode titled ‘Arkangel’ that will launch in December.
“The episode I direct is about a mother/ daughter relationship. It’s like an Ingmar Bergman movie but it’s tense and there’s technology. It is very much about mixed messages; our mothers want us to be better than they were, want us to be stronger and want us to live without fear but then when they see these fearless women they want to break their kneecaps because they don’t want them to leave them,” she said.
Foster, who has previously directed episodes of Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black, added that much narrative storytelling has moved from the big screen to cable television and streaming services.
“The movie business has been overhauled; we will see movies and will go to the theatres to see big intravenous movies but for the most part people will be watching [them] on their home screens. It’s sad but we do have to accept that things are going to be viewed in a different way and really great storytelling is on the small screen.”
Foster’s next film project is Hotel Artemis, the Drew Pearce-directed thriller, which sees her play a nurse who runs an underground hospital for LA’s most sinister criminals and finds that one of her patients is actually there to assassinate another.
The film is produced by The Ink Factory with WME Global handling U.S rights.