Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs which airs on ITV from 10.45pm. It follows FBI student Clarice Starling, portrayed by Jodie Foster, and her attempts to track down the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, a horrific killer who skins his female victims. In her desperate search for Bill, Starling turns to Dr. Lecter, a former psychiatrist who is himself being held in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane for his own murders.
The film is often considered Hopkins’ best, with the Welshman winning the first of his two Best Actor Oscars for the role.
Foster also won Best Actress, while the film took home wins in the other three major categories of the award, namely Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
While the film made Hopkins a global name and secured his place among British actors who found recognition in Hollywood, his career could have taken a very different turn had he not been offered the role.
Actor John Challis once admitted that without the Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins would have actually appeared on the popular BBC show Only Fools and Horses.
Anthony Hopkins’ desire to be a member of the ‘Only Fools and Horses’ actress blew the schedule
Only Fools and Horses are cast
Challis, who sadly passed away last September, was part of the cast of Only Fools and Horses and became a household name thanks to his character Aubrey “Boycie” Boyce.
He told the Daily Mirror in 2021 that Hopkins was primed and ready for a role in the cast as one of the show’s hated Driscoll brothers, siblings who often stuck their heads in the cast’s business.
The 79-year-old said: “[Hopkins] is a huge fan of the show and was genuinely interested in doing it. He would have been fantastic.
“I can picture those disarming blue eyes staring at Boycie or Del Boy.
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John Challis alongside his co-star
“It would have been really frightening.”
Instead, Hopkins ended up playing Dr. Lecter and banged the likes of Warren Beatty, Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte and Robin Williams to the gong.
When asked if Hopkins might have regrets not being on Only Fools and Horses, Challis joked, “He’s probably thinking, ‘If only I had done that, I would have been an even bigger hit,’ while winning his Oscar clutched.”
David Jason led the cast of Only Fools and Horses as Del Boy, a loveable but seedy market trader living in Peckham who makes a living selling a variety of stolen or broken goods.
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The Only Fools and Horses in action
The character came fourth in a Channel 4 poll of Britain’s 100 greatest television characters, beaten only by Homer Simpson, Basil Fawlty and Edmund Blackadder.
Jason once reflected on how Del Boy would fit into a modern day Britain and claimed the character would also have staunch views on Brexit.
The actor said: “When it comes to Brexit, Del would just think, ‘We’re going to make money on this, Rodders’.
“One day he was whipping people who wanted to leave, and the next day he was whipping people who wanted to stay.”
Filming locations in the UK
Jason added to The Sun in 2018 that Del had found a way to use Brexit for his own financial gain.
However, he noted that his brother Rodney would likely have been against Brexit and would have spent longer weighing the pros and cons of Britain leaving the bloc.
His conclusion: “The big political question of staying or going would not interest him.
“He would just think, ‘How are we making money on this, Rodders?’.”
Challis told talkRADIO in 2019 his views on what the cast may have thought about Brexit.
He said: “I blame Del Boy for Brexit. Much of the blame can be on his door, shall we say?
“I think Boycie would have looked very carefully as a used car dealer at what would affect his business, but I think he would have ended up in a remain position.”
The Silence of the Lambs airs on ITV tonight from 10.45pm.