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Breaking The Silence

When Thomas Harris began the long-anticipated book that would become Hannibal, he kept it so secret that even producers Martha and Dino DeLaurentiis, were kept from knowing any details while the author summoned his dark creation from that part of the imagination in which it had been incubating for nearly a decade.

"Every six months or so, Dino or I would pick up the phone and call Tom,” recalls Martha De Laurentiis. "We'd ask, ‘How's it going? Do you have any idea when the book is going to be delivered?' We, obviously, knew all along he was writing this sequel. But Tom keeps very much to himself during this process. He's very much a ‘closed set.'

"So, we'd keep guessing where he was in the process – and where Hannibal was going – from where Tom was in the world. He'd rent an apartment in Paris and we'd wonder, ‘Hmm, is that where Hannibal is – or did Tom just go there to get a change of scenery to continue his writing? We were like FBI agents trying to find clues.”

They finally learned that Harris had given Hannibal a home in one of his own most beloved cities, Florence. When the book was finally published in July 1999, the world was treated to a glimpse of not only the beauty and culture of Florence – but also its traditions of blood-letting and betrayal. And, of course, all these elements were indigenous to the character Anthony Hopkins embodies on screen.

"In Florence, I wanted to play him as a man who's bored by his retirement from public life,” says Hopkins. "He's a little world-weary. Then, suddenly, he hears that they're after him again, and he thinks, ‘Good. Back into action.'”

The international appeal of so magnificent a menace has known no modern equivalent. Perhaps not since the genius of Shelly or Stoker brought the undead to life has so terrifying, yet magnetic a monster appeared in literature.

"We like Hannibal Lecter because, like a contemporary Nosferatu, he is essentially charming and seductive at the same time he is terrifying us,” says Scott. "As with all the great monsters of literature, there is a perverse curiosity that makes us want to know what makes them tick. Hannibal's appeal is less mystical than some of these others. He exists and functions in our lives – which makes him all the more frightening. With Hannibal, there is a strong possibility he is walking on the street right next to you.”

In his Academy Award®-winning turn in Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins found the key that unlocked just enough of the murky secrets in this character that audiences couldn't wait to experience more. The actor believes that there are qualities in Hannibal that are universally identifiable.

"I suppose Jungian psychoanalysts would say it's the shadow that we have in all of us,” muses Hopkins. "Or maybe it's his certainty, his calmness that we probably envy. Some of the most colorful figures in classical literature, Iago, Richard III, Faust have those qualities. They're so brilliant. They have no doubts. They have no uncertainty. That's what makes them charismatic: they're always in control.”

For an actor to hand over control to a director, their relationship must be founded on trust and respect. There was an abundance of both between the veterans on this movie.

"Anthony is one of those intuitive natural talents who seems to keep forever growing in his capabilities, which makes working with him a real pleasure,” explains Scott. "And Tony truly understands this character. There is a very sensitive comprehension and even compassion toward human nature in Hannibal that makes him both more sympathetic and more dangerous. Tony instinctively grasps that.”

There was never a question of who would play Dr. Lecter. There was, however, a big question about who would play Clarice Starling. Scott knew the type of<


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