Some movie performances are so iconic we truly can’t imagine any other actor in the role. And even if we could, we wouldn’t want to. Why bother with “what ifs” when talking about cinematic perfection? And that’s exactly what we got—twice—in 1991 with The Silence of the Lambs. Director Jonathan Demme’s masterpiece took home the five biggest awards at the Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Actress. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the incredibly brilliant, absolutely terrifying Hannibal Lecter made him AFI’s greatest villain in movie history. And Jodie Foster matched him as FBI agent Clarice Starling, one of cinema’s greatest heroes. They were both so amazing it’s impossible to picture anyone else playing either part. But thanks to deepfake technology we can now see two other great actors in those roles: Willem Dafoe and Gillian Anderson.
And they definitely look the parts.
The latest video from the great deepfake YouTube channel Ctrl Shift Face recasts one of the most famous scenes from The Silence of The Lambs. Instead of seeing Hopkins and Foster’s first encounter, it features Willem Dafoe and Gillian Anderson as Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling during their initial meeting.
As always, the deepfake technology employed here, which seamlessly transposes someone else’s face over someone else’s, is both incredible and terrifying. It doesn’t just use old footage of Willem Dafoe and Gillian Anderson. It matches their faces with the movements of Hopkins’ and Foster’s. The nuances of the original performances aren’t lost in the transfer. The result is an edit that is scary to watch when you think about how deepfake technology could be used for less entertaining ways.
But we have enough to worry about right now without thinking about that. Plus, there’s more here to appreciate than just how good it looks. The best deepfakes remind us that no matter how much we might love a certain performance and think it’s unassailable, lots of talented actors could have excelled in the roles. Willem Dafoe definitely has the intensity to have played Hannibal Lecter. He often terrifies as over-the-top madmen (Hello The Lighthouse!), but he’s also fantastic in understated parts. And he absolutely could have been a great as the genius killer with a taste for human flesh.
And if it’s even easier to see how Gillian Anderson would have made for a compelling Clarice Starling. That’s because in some ways we already have. The X-Files‘ creator Chris Carter has said his series was inspired by The Silence of the Lambs. “It’s not a mistake that Dana Scully has red hair like Clarice Starling.”
Agent Starling might have had it much easier than Agent Scully did too. Sure, Fox Mulder was never going to eat her liver with some fava beans, but he was just as weird as Hannibal Lecter. And Scully had to share an office with him.
Just imagine what Hannibal Lecter would have been like played by David Duchvony. And if you can’t maybe the next deepfake will show you what it would have looked like.
Featured Image: Ctrl Shift Face