Sophisticated, intelligent, and always hungry, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) sent a chill through our collective spine at the end of The Silence of the Lambs. After turning a security guard into wall décor, the psycho psychiatrist makes his way to a tropical island, where he gives Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) a phone call before stalking after Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald), the doctor who tormented him for so many years. As Lecter puts it, he's "having an old friend for dinner."
It's the perfect way to close the show, with a bit of wit and a side of macabre. But Ted Tally's screenplay originally had a far more ghoulish ending. We still had the infamous phone call, only this time, Lecter is hiding out in somebody's office, cutting oranges with a paring knife. After saying goodbye to Agent Starling, he puts down the phone and turns to Dr. Chilton…who's tied up in a chair. Lecter then approaches his ex-warden, blade in hand, and menacingly asks, "Shall we begin?"
Tally was quite pleased with this grisly ending, but director Jonathan Demme thought it was "kind of icky." As Demme explained to Deadline, "It was too horrifying a way to close the proceedings.…I thought this story deserved more to it than the crude, trussed-up Dr. Chilton about to be carved by Dr. Lecter." So taking a cue from the director, Tally rewrote the scene and put Hannibal in the Caribbean so audiences could see him "out in the world."
Plus, the ending allowed the filmmakers to have a little vacation. Unfortunately, Tally couldn't make it due to a scheduling conflict, and on top of that, the weather was just rotten, spoiling the cast and crew's island getaway. Of course, the film won a truckload of Oscars, which probably made up for any disappointments.