During the scene where Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is seen in his study playing the piano, on the desk to the right of the frame a book can be seen open displaying the painting of the Red Dragon.
The first shot of Florence after the movie starts is the same scene as depicted in the drawing on Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Sir Anthony Hopkins') cell wall that he described to Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), the Duomo, as seen from the Belvedere, in Florence, Italy.
The part of Mason Verger was originally offered to Christopher Reeve, based on his work as a wheelchair-bound police officer in Above Suspicion (1995). Not having read the novel, Reeve showed initial interest in the role, but ultimately declined upon realizing that Verger was a quadriplegic, facially-disfigured child rapist.
Producer and director Ridley Scott had some uncertainty with the source material. In particular, he had difficulties with the ending of the novel, in which Lecter and Starling become lovers: "I couldn't take that quantum leap emotionally on behalf of Starling. Certainly, on behalf of Hannibal, I'm sure that's been in the back of his mind for a number of years. But for Starling, no. I think one of the attractions about Starling to Hannibal is what a straight arrow she is." He also "didn't buy the book from the opera scene onwards, which became like a vampire movie." He asked Thomas Harris if he was "married to his ending". Harris said he was not, so Scott changed it.
Producer Dino De Laurentiis visited producer and director Ridley Scott on the set of Gladiator (2000) to offer him the job of directing this movie. Scott misunderstood which Hannibal he meant, thinking De Laurentiis was speaking of the General and historical figure from Carthage, who nearly brought down the Roman Empire back around 200 B.C., so he replied: "Basically, Dino, I'm doing a Roman epic right now. I don't wanna do elephants coming over the Alps next, old boy."
After years of being actively involved in getting this sequel made during no less than fifteen drafts of the screenplay, Jodie Foster ultimately declined to participate in the sequel. She issued a statement at the time (clearly to no benefit of this movie) saying "I had been offered more money than ever in my entire career to make this film. But who cares if it betrays Clarice, who has become like a person to me, in the end." Ironically, Foster had to fight tooth and nail for years to land the role of Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Sir Anthony Hopkins was reportedly furious and heartbroken when Jodie Foster decided that she wasn't going to return in the role of Clarice Starling; he was also disappointed that Jonathan Demme would not return to direct.
The outdoor opera, Dante's "La Vita Nuova", which Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) see in Florence, was especially composed for this movie. Composer Patrick Cassidy did not stop at the three minute part as performed in the movie, but composed an entire aria, "Vide Cor Meum".
Some of the places where this movie was filmed include places where filming is hardly ever allowed. Thomas Harris, while doing research for his book, got in contact with the heir of the Palazzo Capponi. For this movie, this same heir allowed producer and director Ridley Scott to film in the Capponi Library.
According to Zeljko Ivanek (Dr. Cordell Doemling), he accepted his role because he wanted to work with Ray Liotta (Paul Krendler). Ivanek introduced himself to Liotta, but Liotta reminded him that they worked together before on The Rat Pack (1998). Ivanek was embarrassed that he had not remembered that.
Originally, a teaser poster released in the U.K. had a picture of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) with a "skin mask" covering the right side of his face, à la the infamous escape scene in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The poster was quickly pulled from advertisement, as it was seen as being "too shocking and disturbing" for the public.
There are several Gucci products featured and promoted throughout this movie. This is due to the friendship between Julianne Moore and the designer Tom Ford, who was the creative director of Gucci at the time the movie was being filmed.
According to an interview with producer Martha De Laurentiis in The Guardian, Gary Oldman demanded to share star billing alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore. When the producers denied him this, he threatened to quit this movie, but later angrily demanded to have no billing at all. During pre-production, producer Dino De Laurentiis announced Oldman's involvement at a press conference "just so we couldn't deny that he was in the movie". In the original theatrical release, Oldman is uncredited, but in the VHS and DVD releases, his name was added to the closing credits. However, in an interview with IGN Filmforce, Oldman told a different story stating: "We thought that as I'm unofficially the man of many faces, you know, of Lee Harvey Oswald, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Sid Vicious, and Ludwig van Beethoven, we thought that I would be... I'm playing the man with no face. So we just had a bit of fun with it. We thought it would be great. The man with no face and no name, and sort of do it anonymously. It's no secret that I'm in the film. We just had fun with it, really."
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) asks Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) about being demoted from the Il Mostro case. Il Mostro was a serial killer about whom Hannibal gives clues to Inspector Pazzi. This was a subplot that was filmed, but never used, as it was thought to be too complicated.
According to cinematographer John Mathieson, three separate endings were filmed. The filmmakers, unsure as to whether the ending of Thomas Harris' novel would work for this movie, filmed three versions: one for Harris, one for producer Dino De Laurentiis, and one for producer and director Ridley Scott. Scott's ending prevailed.
When Gnocco (Enrico Lo Verso) is waiting for Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) in order to try and pick his wallet and get his fingerprints, he's standing next to a newsstand. In the background you can see a billboard for a local movie theater advertising Gladiator (2000), Ridley Scott's previous movie.
The 500-pound man-eating hogs featured in this movie were selected by producer and director Ridley Scott from an audition of over 6,000 other hogs. They were purchased from a farmer, Chaloem Pasak, who lives north of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In the library, Dr. Hannibal Lecter knocks Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) out in a few seconds with a rag soaked in (presumably) chloroform. In reality, a person would have to inhale the drug for several minutes before losing consciousness. However, since this is a fictional movie based on a fictional novel, it doesn't matter.
The baby Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) rescues from the gunfight with Evelda Drumgo (Hazelle Goodman) and her gang was animatronic. NOTE: This isn't exactly news. Fake babies have been used for movies and television shows since the beginning of filmed entertainment.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter's Florentine alias, Dr. Fell, is taken from a rhyming epigram by seventeenth century English satirist Thomas Brown: "I do not love thee, Dr. Fell; The reason why, I cannot tell. But this alone I know full well: I do not love thee, Dr. Fell." The alias is also a reference to "The Silence of the Lambs" novel, where Jame Gumb (Buffalo Bill) lived on Fell Street. Dr. Fell could also be a reference to the 1979 play "I Do Not Like Thee, Dr. Fell" by Irish playwright Bernard Farrell, which parodies American psychobabble, or it could refer to Room to Let (1950), where a new tenant in 1904 London, named Dr. Fell, is suspected by his neighbors of being the infamous Jack the Ripper.
In the opening montage, the outline of Michelangelo's David can be seen when Sir Anthony Hopkins' name appears, right after the title card. The statue then recurred throughout the movie. It is famous for being a depiction of David before his battle with Goliath, rather than after the hero's victory, as depicted by other artists.
The Italian servant in the Sardinia scene was actually the on-site painter with work clothes on, not a costume. The painter was working on adding cement to the fountain in the courtyard, and had the half sheet on to keep cement off her clothes. When Ridley Scott came through to do the phone call scene, they added her as the servant because she looked authentic. Lines were given, but due to the painter's southern accent, the decision was made to have no dialogue from her. Most of the crew ended up being used throughout this movie. For example, the tattooed fish market girl is also the set decorator.
(At around nine minutes) During the market scene, a sign can be seen atop a market stand, shortly, that later reappears for a longer period. It is the name of a fish-stand; Chesapeake Seafoods. Dr. Hannibal Lecter was known as the "Chesepeake Ripper".
In the scene featuring the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives, the man to the right of Osama Bin Laden is James "Whitey" Bulger, Jr., whose own criminal career was portrayed by Johnny Depp in Black Mass (2015).
The scene where Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) breaks into Paul Krendler's (Ray Liotta's) house and steals his mail, the address for the farm house is in Chesapeake Beach. Dr. Lecter was known as the "Chesapeake Ripper".
This movie was first rated "Not under 16" in Germany. But after some test screenings, many youth organizations and parents criticized the rating and called for a re-rating. After this re-rating by the F.S.K. (Germany's version of the M.P.A.A.), it now is rated "Not under 18". Similarly, in Australia, this movie originally received an MA15+ classification, but it was changed a week after it was released to R18+, due to protests, since then, the DVD and Blu-ray releases retained the MA15+ rating.
On the DVD, in the beginning, when the Universal Pictures logo appears on-screen, and the prelude starts to play, the jingling sound you hear is from later on in the movie when Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is shuffling coins in his hand in front of the pay phones.
There is a vegetarian cookbook on top of the fridge in the "dinner scene" toward the end of the movie. It's visible when Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) pushes Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) against the fridge.
Thomas Harris' novel was so grim and graphic that director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally had no interest in reteaming to film this movie. Tally, who is a friend of Harris, was actually a bit worried that his refusal would not sit well with Harris, but there was no bad blood between both men. Tally adapted Harris' novel Red Dragon (2002) instead.
The scene in which Hannibal intentionally severs his hand is a possible reference to the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, who voluntarily has his hand chopped off to save his son. (the character subsequently kills two men and bakes them in a pie). Anthony Hopkins played Titus in a film adaption.
(At around fifty-two minutes) Ridley Scott talks about the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter probably using marijuana or opium. Ridley says "needless to say, I don't do either of those, er, they're too much for me".
At the start of his commentary, producer and director Ridley Scott makes the point that the concept of a market for crime artifacts is not made up. This appears to be the case, with one of the largest sites being "supernaught".
In the scene in the Italian Police station, when Clarice is on the phone to Agent Benetti, the football (soccer) match on television behind Benetti is the 2000 English FA Cup final, Chelsea vs. Aston Villa. Aston Villa striker Julian Joachim is seen in the close-up. Chelsea won 1-0.
The phone number for the $3 million reward for Dr. Hannibal Lecter on the FBI website is listed as 1-212-555-0118. Once Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi calls this number, he is referred to a lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland, whose number is 004123317. Either the first or last digit is not heard.
In the movie Starling uses a standard issue Sig P226 and is later seen surrendering a Sig P228 and a Glock 26/27. She later uses John Bingham's gun, an issue Glock 22. However, in the book, Starling uses her custom 1911 in the Drumgo shooting and later, she has Bingham's custom 1911 and Safari Arms Enforcer 1911.
Gary Oldman isn't featured in the opening credits, despite being the film's main antagonist. It isn't until the closing credits that he is billed third behind Sir Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore. Rather than reveal the actor's identity, Ridley Scott chose to showcase the impressive prosthetic work and leave the audience wondering who was underneath the intense makeup. Gary Oldman himself didn't begin press on the film until after its release, in order to maintain secrecy.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the novel's ending, Clarice Starling joins Dr. Hannibal Lecter in dining on Paul Krendler's brain, and accepts his desire for them to become lovers. The novel also reveals that Hannibal's cannibalism stems from his childhood trauma of seeing his sister murdered and eaten by starving Nazis. Producer and director Ridley Scott admitted that he didn't like the psychological explanation of Hannibal's actions and rejected it from the script. Hannibal's childhood experiences became the basis for Hannibal Rising (2007).
In the book, Mason Verger died when his sister shoved a moray eel down his throat. As this ending was considered radically violent, the character of Verger's sister was written out of the final screenplay, and Verger's death altered to take place in the wild boar scene. The moray eel, however, does make a brief appearance in a scene between Verger and Clarice.
The idea of eating a living person's brain as punishment is a reference to Dante's Inferno, where Count Ugolino does this to Archbishop Ruggieri in Hell. This makes sense, because Dr. Hannibal Lecter is depicted as a Dante Alighieri expert in this movie.
Sir Anthony Hopkins was asked in an interview on the subject of whether or not he believed the idea of Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter heading off into the sunset as lovers (as happens in the book). "Yes, I did. Other people found that preposterous. I suppose there's a moral issue there. I think it would have been a very interesting thing though. I think it would have been very interesting had she gone off, because I suspected that there was that romance, attachment there, that obsession with her. I guessed that a long time ago, at the last phone call to Clarice, at the end of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), she said, 'Dr. Lecter, Dr. Lecter'"
Dr. Hannibal Lecter's self-sourced Dean & Deluca lunch box on the aircraft at the end of the movie contains, apart from delicately-fried brain, Beluga Caviar, figs, and a bottle of 1996 Grand Vin de Château Phélan Ségur Saint-Estèphe.
Eating any amount of human brain, no matter how well cooked, can cause Prion disease, which is incurable with a high mortality rate. This may explain why you never actually see Dr. Hannibal Lecter eating any of Krendler's brain. Note: This disease can only be spread by eating already infected tissue.
This movie's ending differs drastically from the novel. In the book, when Dr. Hannibal Lecter cooks Krendler's brain, it is him and Clarice who eat it, consuming most of it. After that, she and Lecter have sex and both run off. The novel ends three years later, when Barry the orderly finds Lecter and Clarice living together in Buenos Aries, Argentina under false identities and quickly escaping. Such a drastic change might be explained by the fact writer Thomas Harris was quite reluctant to write another Hannibal book, and was heavily pressured by producer Dino De Laurentiis to do so.
Australia received an MA15+ rating, but this movie was edited within the first week of cinema release (two small but distinct cuts were made, one small edit and removal of frames during the shoot-out at the Seafood market, to reduce the overall impact of violence, the other was the removal of a sequence of frames showing the clear dissecting of the brain of Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta).This movie was re-classified to R18+. Australian VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray releases had the R18+ rating reclassified to MA15+, but the edited cuts were not reinserted into this movie. To this day, all MA15+ versions of this movie are still cut.