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Criminology prof ridicules Anthony Hopkins’ performance in The Silence of the Lambs

02 Sep 2021 2 minute read
Criminologist David Wilson reviews notorious serial killers from films and television for Vanity Fair

A criminology professor has ridiculed the performance of Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.

The renowned Welsh actor earned an Oscar for his portrayal of the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 crime thriller.

However according to eminent criminologist David Wilson, in the film’s most famous scene he was “pantomimic”.

The Professor Emeritus of Criminology at Birmingham City University criticised the part in which the psychopath tells Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee played by Jodie Foster, about eating someone’s liver with “some fava beans and a nice chianti.”

In a review of serial killers in movies and TV for Vanity Fair, Professor Wilson said: “I’ve never encountered a serial killer who would behave quite so much in that pantomimic way. I have encountered serial killers who have tried to scare me.

“But I wouldn’t be scared by Anthony Hopkins. I’d have laughed frankly if he’d told me about fava beans and a nice chianti.”

However, Professor Wilson was not universally negative about the performance. He praised the part of the film in which Lecter asks Clarice Starling for her FBI credentials.

He said: “Hannibal Lecter does something which is very true to life in my experience. When I’m interviewing murderers, they’re only prepared to talk to me once they’ve got my CV.

“They love knowing that they’re being interviewed by the ‘top bloke’.”

The professor also remarked on the part of the film where Lecter tells Starling: “You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps, …but not today”.

‘Seducing behaviour’ 

Professor Wilson said: “I’ve never had a serial killer mention my aftershave, but that seducing behaviour is something that I have to manage on a regular basis.

“So, for example I had to speak on the telephone to an infamous serial killer who’s in jail. He was sometimes known as the bikini killer or the serpent.

“He said: ‘You look much younger than your 64 years’.

“It was the very first thing he said. It just shouted out as psychopathy.”

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Elvey MacDonald
Elvey MacDonald
2 years ago

The professor must surely know that Anthony Hopkins was merely reciting a script which he did not write.

arthur owen
2 years ago

‘merely reciting’ is hardly accurate for what an actor does.The professor is looking at it the wrong way however,’The Silence of the Lambs’ is not in anyway claiming to be a piece of realism.

Lani Snyder-Needles
2 years ago

Hopkins didn’t write the script. This guy is a pompous ass.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
2 years ago

It was a film not a documentary! Was Prof. Wilson criticizing the acting or the script? In the original book the wine was Amarone not Chianti. Amarone is robust and pairs well with offal and liver. Also with game meat, which has been hunted and killed before cooking, in keeping with Lecter’s murderous hobby! Changed because people wouldn’t have understood why Lecter was drinking a wine they’d never heard of. Definitely pantomimic but isn’t Lecter meant to be a super villain and the character Lecter might even be ‘hamming it up’ deliberately. Anthony Hopkins has not killed and/or eaten any… Read more »

2 years ago

I’m disappointed to find a professor of criminology appearing to believe that a work of fiction made for entertainment is actually a documentary. I thought that was the preserve of the armchair critics at IMDb.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 years ago

Boris Johnson never had this trouble when he was writing rubbish for a fee. Leave the Prof alone.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
2 years ago

Strikes me that there are ‘top blokes’ who love to write articles so they can tell the world they are ‘top bloke’!

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