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This Is Who Plays Buffalo Bill In The Silence Of The Lambs

While it might be a common opinion that the scariest person in Jonathan Demme's 1991 classic "The Silence of the Lambs" spends most of his time in a prison cell, there's, of course, a well-deserved dose of terror being earned by another monster in this movie as well. Sir Anthony Hopkins' hissing, chianti-loving cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, might well be the biggest draw, but credit must also go to the terror he's been in correspondence with — the skin-snatching, lotion-obsessed serial killer, Buffalo Bill.

The catalyst for Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and Dr. Lecter's get-together, Jame Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill, is the serial killer the young FBI agent is desperate to catch and thankfully manages to get the drop on in the film's finale. Kidnapping women and 'coveting' their skin to make his own outfits, the psychopath inspired by the likes of Ted Bundy and Ed Gein is a disturbing presence you can't look away from. But who was it that brought this madman to life and delivered such an incredible performance?

Ted Levine stitched an impressive turn together as Buffalo Bill

The horror that threatened the hose again was played by now well-established character actor Ted Levine, who seemingly gave the audition of his life when trying for the role of Buffalo Bill. Speaking to Rolling Stone on the film's 30th anniversary, Levine recalled how he managed to conjure such an unsettling performance on his first try. "I just pulled something out. It was scary. It felt kind of magical," he explained.

It was a spark that one of his co-stars, Brooke Smith, who spent most of her time down a well as Catherine Martin in the film, caught too. "When Ted walked in, it was so crazily obvious. I asked him, 'What the hell did you do in that audition? You were so amazing.' His tactic to achieve such a success was down to one key ingredient. "He was like, "'Well, you know, I wasn't sure what I was gonna do, so I just drank a lot of coffee.' He was amazing."

Since Bill, Levine has ironically often played characters on the other side of the law with less murderous tendencies. Starring in shows like "The Alienist," "The Bridge," and "Monk," he also recently appeared alongside Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury in "Big Sky."