Michelle Pfeiffer Says She Turned Down The Silence of The Lambs Because the Film's Script Was 'Evil'

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Nicholas Rice
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Michelle Pfeiffer is opening up about one film role that could have been.

While speaking with The New Yorker for a recent interview about her wide-ranging and illustrious career, the 62-year-old actress detailed how she was originally tapped to star in The Silence of the Lambs but passed on the opportunity due to being uncomfortable with the film's "evil" storyline.

"With Silence of the Lambs, I was trepidatious," she said. "There was such evil in that film."

When asked what exactly it was about the project that made her not want to take part in it, Pfeiffer added: "It was that evil won in the end, that at the end of that film evil ruled out. I was uncomfortable with that ending. I didn't want to put that out into the world."

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In The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling, an FBI agent, seeks out the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), to help her catch a serial killer, "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine), who skins his female victims.

The role, which went to Jodie Foster after Pfeiffer turned it down, would go on to win her a Best Actress Oscar at the 1992 Academy Awards. The Silence of the Lambs also won the Oscar for Best Picture, among other coveted categories.

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Back in 2019, Pfeiffer opened up about various films that she has turned down over the years — including Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct and Thelma and Louise — during an interview on the Today show.

"The thing is, there are so many reasons that go into turning something down, and it's not necessarily because you don't want to do it," Pfeiffer said at the time. "There's a conflict, you're committed to something else. Typically, it was something like that."

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For Pfeiffer, however, she does have one regret over not taking the role of Clarice, because it meant she would've been able to work with The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme once more.

Pfeiffer and Demme, who died due to complications from esophageal cancer in 2017, previously collaborated on the 1988 film Married to the Mob.

"The thing I most regret is missing the opportunity to do another film with [director] Jonathan [Demme]," she said.

"It's so sad to me that he's no longer with us," Pfeiffer then added of the late director. "First of all, he is the nicest person, he is funny, and not only is he really funny but he's the easiest person to make laugh, so we just laugh all the time."