Michelle Pfeiffer says she turned down Silence of the Lambs because it was "too evil." Director Jonathan Demme wanted her to star as Clarice Starling, but Pfeiffer wasn't interested. Jodie Foster ended up taking on the role instead, which earned her an Academy Award. Pfeiffer and Demme had previously worked on Married to the Mob together and the actress regrets not getting a second chance to work with the director again. Demme passed away in 2017 from complications from esophageal cancer and heart disease.
The Silence of the Lambs isn't exactly an uplifting story. The movie, and its source material, Thomas Harris' novel of the same name, tells the story of a young FBI agent tracking a serial killer who skins his female victims. When Michelle Pfeiffer read the script, she found it to be a bit too much for her to take on. She explains.
"With The Silence of the Lambs, I was trepidatious. There was such evil in that film. The thing I most regret is missing the opportunity to do another film with Jonathan [Demme]. It was that evil won in the end, that at the end of that film evil ruled out. I was uncomfortable with that ending. I didn't want to put that out into the world."
The Silence of the Lambs ends with Anthony Hopkins' Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaping his cell and disappearing. He later contacts Clarice Starling at her FBI Academy graduation party to congratulate her, before stating, that he must hang up because he is "having an old friend for dinner." It's a chilling ending, and one can see why Michelle Pfeiffer was not into throwing herself into the role of Starling.
When speaking about Jonathan Demme now, Michelle Pfeiffer reflects on how much fun they had working on Married to the Mob together. "It's so sad to me that he's no longer with us," Pfeiffer says. "First of all, he is the nicest person, he is funny, and not only is he really funny but he's the easiest person to make laugh, so we just laugh all the time." The actress went on to note that making Married to the Mob was quite demanding, but states that she was just able to step into her character, which made everything much easier in the end.
The Silence of the Lambs earned Jonathan Demme an Academy Award for Best Director. The movie also won Best Picture, with Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster taking home Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively. Ted Tally won Best Screenplay for his work on the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer went on to continued success in her career, including the role of Selena Kyle, aka Catwoman, in 1992's Batman Returns. When recently asked if she was going to have a part in The Flash movie alongside her old co-star Michael Keaton, she stated that nobody had contacted her, though she would be interested. The interview with Michelle Pfeiffer was originally conducted by The New Yorker.