The veteran influences in The Silence of the Lambs

Updated onMay 22, 2023
4 minute read
silence of the lambs


The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest films of all time. Many would be surprised to learn about the veterans who worked on it.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest films of all time. It grossed $272.7M in the box office on a budget of $19M. It won multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie is consistently listed on many of the lists for best, most influential and top films ever. It has spawned sequels and a TV series. Many would be surprised to learn about the veterans who worked on the film, all in critical positions.

These are the veteran influences in The Silence of the Lambs

1. Jonathan Demme

Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Demme are on set.

Jonathan Demme made many great films during his life. The top ones outside of this article's main focus are Philidelphia, Rachel Getting Married and the fun crime comedy Married to the Mob. He served in the Air Force in the 1960s and post-graduation joined Embassy Pictures's publicity department. He did a litany of jobs including selling movies for the Pathe Contemporary theatrical division, writing movie reviews for Film Daily and rock music reviews for Fusion. Demme even made a movie, his first one, Good Morning, Steve. He worked on TV commercials and met Roger Corman who he directed three films for in the 1970s.

His first film in the 1980s, Melvin and Howard, was not a blockbuster hit but won two Oscars, one for Best Supporting Actress and the second for Best Original Screenplay. His next film starred Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Swing Shift. Demme then went and did a documentary on the Talking Heads called Stop Making Sense, which won an award for best documentary from the National Society of Film Critics. He eventually made his way to making The Silence of the Lambs, which was one of only three films to win all the major categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. His continued with much success post-Philidelphia, which also won Oscars, to include The Manchurian Candidate with Denzel Washington. His final film was Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep.

2. Kenneth Utt

Kenneth Utt

Kenneth Utt's career was as a producer and unit production manager. He earned his only Academy Award on The Silence of the Lambs for Best Picture. Before coming to Hollywood he attended Julliard to study vocals as he wanted to be an opera singer. He joined the Army Air Corps and served in World War II. His post-service work in the industry was as a radio actor. Utt then transitioned to working in production on stage plays such as Peter Pan. Utt was the line producer for Midnight Cowboy, The French Connection and The Seven-Ups. He then partnered with Jonathan Demme on films such as Something Wild, Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs and Philidelphia. Utt made a cameo appearance in his only Oscar win as Dr. Akin.

3. Anthony Hopkins

Hopkins as the doctor himself.

Anthony Hopkins has set the standard for a professional career which began in 1960. He has done stage and film at the highest level. He has earned two Academy Awards, four BAFTAs, two Primetime Emmys and an Olivier Award. Hopkins was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993. He also received the Cecil B. Demille Award in 2008. Not too shabby for a British Army soldier who served from 1958 to 1960.

Post his service he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He did theatre for most of the 1960s and broke into film in the short The White Bus. He continued his film acting in The Lion in Winter, Hamlet and leading into the 1970s with A Bridge Too Far. Hopkins broke into TV in the mid-1960s and has done many great productions. He has played in King Lear, MacBeth and Antony and Cleopatra on stage. He has worked with such directors as Steven Speilberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Richard Attenborough and Oliver Stone to name a few. Hopkins brought his best to the screen as Doctor Lecter, which he has reprised twice more in Hannibal and Red Dragon.

4. Scott Glenn

Scott Glenn and Jodie Foster are on set.

Scott Glenn played Jack Crawford, an Agent in Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI in Quantico. Glenn has been in the acting business for nearly 60 years and got his break on Broadway. He has acted in many excellent films including The Hunt for Red October, Training Day, Backdraft, The Right Stuff, The Bourne Ultimatum and Silverado.

Post his college education and before making the trip into acting, Glenn served in the Marine Corps for three years in the early 1960s. He studied the craft at The Actors Studio which led to further work in TV and theatre. Glenn has worked with such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman and Antoine Fuqua. His most recent acting credit is in The Hill.

5. Charles Napier

Napier in all of his Demme collaborations. Clockwise from the top, Silence of the Lambs, Philidelphia, Married to the Mob and The Manchurian Candidate.

Charles Napier made a career out of playing bad guys or less-than-likable characters. He worked with Jonathan Demme in many films, some already noted, but the list includes six, two of which have not been mentioned are Beloved and Something Wild. He worked in films such as The Blues Brother, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Rambo: First Blood Part II. Usually playing less than savory characters. Once he graduated high school he joined the US Army and served with the 11th Airborne Division in the 1950s. He rose to the rank of Sergeant.

Post his service he studied at Western Kentucky University and graduated in 1961. He worked a slew of jobs before turning to acting. He began on the stage at the Alley Playhouse in Kentucky. Napier broke into acting with Cherry, Harry & Raquel in the late 1960s. He had significant roles in the original Star Trek, The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Knight Rider and later Star Trek shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His final film role was in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard and his last TV appearance was on Archer.