The actor looked back at his experience on the 1991 film with co-star Jodie Foster for Variety’s Actors on Actors interview series, revealing that he kept up the performance of Hannibal Lecter when the cameras stopped rolling.
Both actors discussed the scene that sees Foster’s Agent Clarice Starling first visit Lecter in his prison cell.
Ahead of filming, director Jonathan Demme asked Hopkins where he wanted Lecter to be positioned when Starling arrived.
“Jonathan said, ‘How do you want to be seen? Do you want to be reading, or painting or lying down on the bed?’” Hopkins said, stating: “I said, ‘I’d like to be standing here.’”
When Demme asked him why, Hopkins responded: “[So] I can smell her coming down the corridor.”
Demme, whom Hopkins suggested was unnerved by his remark, permitted the actor to stand in the middle of the cell, and the resulting shot has endured as one of the most memorable character introductions in film history.
Foster said she remembered the set as being “eerie”.
The pair were speaking in conjunction with their new films The Father and The Mauritanian, both of which are considered Oscar hopefuls.