About The Production
Anthony Hopkins' Oscar-winning portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs earned the psychopathic psychiatrist a place in the hearts - and nightmares -- of millions. According to a recent Entertainment Weekly poll, Hopkins has made Lecter the most popular villain in movie history. "Only a handful of roles become a part of pop culture," noted producer Dino De
Laurentiis, who has been making films for 60 years. "Hannibal is one of them."
That fact was dramatically demonstrated again last year with the release of the film adaptation of Hannibal, the third novel in Harris' series.
"Lecter is a character people want to see," observed producer Martha De
Laurentiis. "And seeing Anthony Hopkins play Hannibal is irresistible."
Screenwriter Ted Tally was actually a bit startled by the intensity of the audience's reaction to
Lecter. "He is a mad man, he is a killer and he is a cannibal, completely without remorse or conscience," said the writer. "But people respond to him. They find him seductive. Also, I think there's a part of all of us that likes watching an anti-hero, someone who can get away with doing and saying things we could never get away with."
Hopkins agrees. "What's so fascinating about Lecter," he said, "is that he is the dark side of every human being. Hannibal makes people face up to their lies and their shadows and the dark sides of themselves."
Another aspect of the cinematic success of The Silence of the Lambs was the re-release of the novel
Red Dragon. Author Thomas Harris wrote a new prologue for this edition, which suggested the roots of a relationship between Graham and
Lecter. Although the novel had previously been adapted for film as Manhunter, Dino De Laurentiis wanted to get more of the novel onscreen and to restore the novel's ending in a new film adaptation. He was also eager to take advantage of Harris's new prologue - and to expand upon it.
"For the first time," said Dino De Laurentiis, "audiences get to see what Hannibal was doing before he was brought down, who brought him down and how!"
For Tally, the idea of adapting Red Dragon was both exhilarating and intimidating. "One of the attractions for me was the thought that here you have a trilogy of books about this striking character by Thomas Harris. When Dino asked me if I was interested, I thought yes, let's complete the trilogy with this great actor."
And so the job began. "One of the first things we did," said Tally, "which Dino and Tom Harris both thought was important, was go back in time to the moment where Will Graham was attacked and create a feeling of a past relationship between him and
"Hannibal Lecter is not an easy character to write," Tally continued. "He is so smart, so witty and so crazy that it is hard to go there imaginatively as the
writer. It's a real challenge to write a character who is smarter than you, and he is much smarter than I am."
Tally was also intent on giving the audience insight into the character of Francis Dolarhyde and the relationship between him and Reba
McClane. "Dolaryhyde is a great creation by the novelist - a rich, strange character."
Hopkins was initially doubtful about playing Hannibal a third time. "I wasn't quite sure," Hopkins admitted. But his hesitation disappeared when he learned that Tally was writing the script.
Tally's screenplay also attracted the attention of director Brett Ratner. After establishing himself with the action/comedy hits
Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2 and the romantic comedy The Family
Man, Ratner was eager to tackle a new genre and aggressively pursued Red Dragon with producers Dino and Martha De
Laurentiis. "Brett was very convincing," said Martha De Laurentiis. "He brings a lot of spirit and a fresh energy and honesty to the material. And
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