'Silence of the Lambs' Star Describes It as a 'Coming of Age Movie'

Scott Glenn, who portrayed Jack Crawford on Silence of the Lambs, is reflecting on what made the 1991 film so successful. Because of the movie's five Academy Award wins and the fact that it was one of the highest-grossing films in the year of its release, the 76-year-old actor believes that there is one critical aspect that resonated with audiences around the world.

Other than the stellar acting and directing, Glenn believes the movie's coming of age storyline had a deep impact on viewers. On the surface, Silence of the Lambs doesn't seem like a "coming of age" story. However, Glenn explained how this theme was interjected into Clarice Starling's character arc.

"And it's also incredibly talky, and even kind of slow in parts. Yet it was the second highest-grossing movie of the year when it came out, and was a huge hit in places like Japan and Germany and France and Japan. Usually, the movies that do well internationally are things like Conan the Barbarian– lots of muscular folks grunting and you know what the story is already," he said during an interview with Rolling Stone.

"I've thought about this quite a bit: Why did this particular movie resonate with so many different people? The one answer that I've been able to come up with is that there are tons of films about the rites of passage from boyhood to manhood – yet very, very few about the rites of passage from girlhood to womanhood. Jodie Foster's character starts the movie, for all practical purposes, as a girl; she ends that movie as a woman. Strip away everything else from the film, and that's really what's at its core," Glenn said.

Glenn also spoke out about the relationship his character had with Jodie Foster's character. The two were given specific details about how Crawford and Starling should interact onscreen.


"Well, after I had read Ted Tally's script, I remember thinking, this is the strangest relationship in the movie, even stranger than her and Lecter. You can't quite figure it out: Is this like a surrogate father-daughter thing? Are they lovers? What the hell is going on? I remember Jodie and I were doing a table reading early on, trying it one way or another, and Jonathan [Demme] said, 'God, don't play the relationship. That's just a writer being a writer,' " Glenn said.

"Later on, there's a scene where she's leaving Washington and I'm walking her out to the car. She had a hard time getting in, so I just took her arm to sort of help her getting in to the car. And Jonathan yelled, 'No, Cut!' He comes running, like really running, up to us and goes, 'Scott, I do not want you to touch her!' Jodie said, 'Well, he's just helping me in, and…' Then he says, 'Remember way back when we did that reading, and I told you two that you couldn't play that relationship? Well it exists on the screen … I see it in every frame of the footage I watch of the two of you. And I just know instinctively that if you touch here in this scene, it's going to blow it all. You should only touch her once, at the end, when you shake her hand…that handshake will be so loaded, but it only works if you don't do that.' I mean, watch that scene and you see what he means. That was the kind of artist he was," Glen added.