In The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Anthony Hopkins delivers a stellar performance as the convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter. His performance is in fact so good that it earned him an Oscar for Best Actor despite appearing on screen for only 16 minutes, the smallest screen time ever needed to win that award.
Hopkins’ acting was superb and well deserving of the win, but it would not have been possible if it weren’t for the immense anticipation and aura built around the character Hannibal while Lecter is off screen.
Of course, to make his role as the psychotic cannibal convincing, it was going to take a bit more than simply memorizing the lines and putting on a slightly creepy voice. As soon as Hopkins read the script he had a vague idea in his head as to how the doctor would act, what he’d look like, how he should speak, and what he should wear.
“I read the script, and boom! I knew intuitively how to play him,” he said. “I knew how he looked and how he sounded.”