FBI Assistance with the Making of the Film
For decades, as part of its mission, the FBI’s public affairs personnel at FBI Headquarters has coordinated assistance as requested at no charge to the film industry on projects relating to the Bureau’s programs, priorities, policies, procedures, and cases whether the project is based on fiction or not. The public affairs staff as well as employees at the FBI’s personnel at Quantico, Virginia worked on this motion picture as well.
Supervisory Special Agent/Chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit John Douglas and his staff assisted Thomas Harris and actors and actresses with conversations and insights into criminal profiling. Special Agents and other staffers in the Training Division provided information and sometimes played themselves in the film. The character of Clarice Starling likely was inspired by a female Special Agent/profiler whom Thomas Harris met and talked with at Quantico.
As well, a small number of other FBI employees were assigned for a short time—a matter of days or weeks actually—to familiarize Ms. Foster herself with a cross-section of the training a New Special Agent receives at the FBI Academy located on the U.S. Marine Base at Quantico, Virginia. She was introduced to firearms, physical fitness, defensive tactics, running an obstacle course, and classroom instruction. One of the FBI employees especially assigned to accompany and orient Ms. Foster was a young female FBI Special Agent in her 20s named Mary Ann Krauss. A native of Mississippi (like Thomas Harris), she was a tall blonde with a mild but noticeable Southern accent and affectionately was nicknamed “Grits” during her earliest days in the Bureau. Ms. Krauss had been a Special Agent for just three years and the two women were around the same age.
For two days, Special Agent Krauss familiarized Ms. Foster with the life of a young female FBI Special Agent, FBI culture, chain of command, conduct, protocols, dress, and interviewing before the filming began. Comments have been made through the years about how Ms. Foster may have been inspired to speak with a soft accent as described in the book as being from West Virginia. Ms. Foster grew up in Southern California and went to college in New England. It appears, though, that the soft accent and mannerisms of Clarice Starling may well have been inspired by her meetings with Special Agent Krauss. Lastly, although not the reason she was selected to assist Ms. Foster, Special Agent Krauss was active in the 4-H when she was young. In one of life’s coincidences, she usually worked with small animals and showed them in competitions.
The animals were lambs.
Where to View the Film
Even though 30 years have passed, The Silence of the Lambs can often be seen on cable television channels or through streaming. It also can be purchased on DVDs in several editions and formats. For serious collectors, one of the best quality choices is The Criterion Collection, which comes with two discs, a booklet, “making of” features, interviews, and a slipcase.