Anthony Hopkins thought Silence of the Lambs was a "children's story" before he read the script.
The 83-year-old actor played fictional cannibal serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lector in Jonathan Demme's classic 1991 horror — based on Thomas Harris' 1988 novel of the same name — and he was instantly won over once he realised the content of the film.
Speaking to co-star Jodie Foster — who played FBI trainee Clarice Starling in the movie — for Variety's 'Actors on Actor' series, he said: "I was in London in 1989, doing a play called M. Butterfly.
"My agent sent a script. He said, 'Why don’t you read this? It’s called Silence of the Lambs.’' I said, 'Is it a children’s story?'
"It was a hot summer afternoon, and the script came over and I started reading it. After 10 pages, I phoned my agent.
"I said, 'Is this a real offer? I want to know. This is the best part I’ve ever read.' "
Hopkins' performance helped create one of cinema's most iconic villains, but he was "nervous" about taking on the role.
He explained: "I was naturally nervous, an Englishman — a limey like me, a Welshman — playing an American serial killer.
"And I remember [director] Jonathan, when the camera picked me up, he said, 'Oh, my God. That’s it. Hopkins. You’re so weird!' And I said, 'Why, thank you.'
"And they wanted the lighting girl to come into my cell, and I said, 'What are you doing in my cell?'
"And [Jonathan] said, 'Oh, my God.' So I knew I had pressed the right button. Once you got that button, hold on to it — and go with it."
Meanwhile, Foster noted how everyone on set took influence from the source material.
She added: " I remember that specific voice you had, the metallic tinge to your voice. Chris Newman was the sound mixer, and he also enhanced that. He was able to bring that up a little bit. I feel like we were all inspired by the book."
In the 30-minute interview, Hopkins and Foster also traded anecdotes from their respective new movies, The Father, and The Mauritanian.
Watch their interview here:
Photos: TPG News/Click Photos