As an unverified legend about “The Silence of the Lambs” goes, Anthony Hopkins suggested his character, Hannibal Lecter, should wear white prison clothes as they’d be more clinical and therefore unnerving. Trivia sites and message boards claim Lecter is afraid of dentists and that’s where he got the idea.
That kind of story persists because it’s just strange enough to believe.
But wanting to find out if there was actually any truth to it, The Huffington Post asked Colleen Atwood, the Academy Award-winning costume designer for the 1991 movie, what really happened. Well ...
White was chosen because Hopkins imagined his cannibalistic character to be “spiritual.”
”He fancied himself as spiritual being Hannibal,” Atwood revealed about Hopkins’ take on the role.
“In the holding cell in the white T-shirt, I think that we just wanted something totally sparse and almost spiritual, but when you’re in prison there aren’t a lot of choices,” Atwood said with a laugh.
The costume designer explained that Hopkins stressed over making sure every part of his character was just right, even his clothes.
“The thing with Anthony is that the [costuming] fit with everything was so precise,” said Atwood. “Part of his character was that precision and so his fit on even a simple T-shirt was very precise. What was minimal in one way was sort of deeply altered in others that you don’t really notice in the movie. But everything fit him like a glove.”
Lecter is obviously already terrifying, but knowing that Hopkins played him as a spiritual figure certainly increases how unsettling the character can make you feel. The world does not need a Church of Hannibal.
Atwood spoke to HuffPost in part of a conversation to promote her more recent work on “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”
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