You can feel this kind of shame: The Impact of Anthony Hopkins’ Mockery on Jodie Foster’s Accent in “The Silence of the Lambs”

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In the world of filmmaking, actors often face challenges that go beyond their on-screen performances. One such incident occurred during the filming of the critically acclaimed movie “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Renowned actors Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster shared the screen in this psychological thriller, which would go on to become a massive hit, grossing $272.7 million worldwide. However, behind the scenes, Hopkins’ improvised mockery of Foster’s accent left a lasting impact on the actress. In this article, we will delve into the details of this incident and its significance in the context of the film.

The Unscripted Mockery

During the filming of “The Silence of the Lambs,” there was a scene where Hopkins, in his role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, made fun of Foster’s character Clarice Starling’s West Virginia accent. This moment of mockery was not scripted but was instead an improvisation by Hopkins himself. Foster later recalled that this unanticipated attack on her accent genuinely made her angry. She described the incident in an interview with MasterClass, saying, “There is a moment in The Silence of the Lambs where Lecter makes fun of Clarice’s accent, and that was not rehearsed. That was just something that Anthony Hopkins came up with. I was an actress, learning how to speak in a West Virginia accent, and when I heard him make fun of my accent, it really made me mad.”

The Impact on Jodie Foster

Foster’s reaction in the film was authentic, as she was genuinely caught off guard by Hopkins’ improvisation. She later thanked him for his honest reaction, but the incident left a lasting impact on her. Foster expressed disappointment that Hopkins had made fun of something she had worked so hard on. She also felt helpless because she couldn’t do anything about it in the moment. She explained, “It’s an interesting thing that happens. I think that you can feel that, you can feel this kind of shame of having tried so hard to be something and having someone humiliate you and not being able to do anything about it because you’re smaller, more fragile, and you’re scared.”

The Significance of “The Silence of the Lambs”

Despite the hurtful incident, “The Silence of the Lambs” played a crucial role in both Foster’s and Hopkins’ careers. The film, directed by Jonathan Demme, was adapted from Thomas Harris’s novel of the same name. It received widespread acclaim for its faithful adaptation and its gripping storyline. The success of the film propelled both actors into the spotlight, garnering them critical acclaim and a wider audience.

The Silence of the Lambs Poster

“The Silence of the Lambs” follows the character of Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee, who is assigned to interview the brilliant yet deranged psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Starling seeks Lecter’s insights to capture another serial killer. The movie masterfully combines elements of suspense, psychological thriller, and horror, captivating audiences worldwide.

The Success of “The Silence of the Lambs”

“The Silence of the Lambs” was not only a critical success but also a commercial triumph. Made on a modest budget of $19 million, the film grossed an impressive $272.7 million worldwide. It became the fifth highest-grossing film of 1991, solidifying its place in cinematic history. The movie’s success can be attributed to its captivating storyline, exceptional performances, and the chemistry between Foster and Hopkins, despite the incident of mockery.

Awards and Recognition

The impact of “The Silence of the Lambs” extended beyond the box office. The film received widespread acclaim and earned numerous accolades, including several Academy Awards. At the 64th Academy Awards, the film won in major categories, including Best Picture, Best Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins, and Best Actress for Jodie Foster. These awards were a testament to the exceptional performances delivered by the actors, despite the challenges faced during production.

Legacy and Influence

“The Silence of the Lambs” remains a significant film in cinematic history and continues to influence the industry today. The movie’s success paved the way for future psychological thrillers and elevated the careers of both Foster and Hopkins. It solidified Foster’s status as a respected actress and opened doors to more opportunities. Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter became iconic, and the character itself is widely recognized as one of the most memorable villains in film history.


While the incident of Anthony Hopkins’ improvised mockery of Jodie Foster’s accent during the filming of “The Silence of the Lambs” left a lasting impact on the actress, it does not diminish the film’s significance and success. Despite the challenges faced, the movie went on to become a critical and commercial triumph, earning accolades and catapulting the careers of both Foster and Hopkins. “The Silence of the Lambs” remains a timeless masterpiece and a testament to the talent and dedication of its cast and crew.

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