Yes, it has been 30 years since Jonathan Demme’s blockbuster thriller made its deep impression on the worldwide audience. Jodie Foster, ironically the 4th-round pick of candidates for the role of Clarice Starling, set the high bar as FBI trainee and confidante to Hannibal the Cannibal, and the franchise with all its rocky history, was set in stone.
This is the second television series based on the Thomas Harris crime novels, a hot property for wunderkind producer Alex Kurtzman and actress/screenwriter Jenny Lumet, of Star Trek Discovery fame. The acclaimed NBC series Hannibal, developed by Bryan Fuller, had already set another high bar for broadcast horror thrillers. Seemingly a hard act to follow, as contract stipulations demand that Lecter cannot appear in the new show.
Clarice – Pursuing the Demons with Jen Richards
by Betty Wing
Clarice will star Australian actress Rebecca Breeds as the titular character, and begins in 1993, one year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. This timeline’s events, first explored in the sequel with Danielle Moore and directed by Ridley Scott, now will find Starling struggling with professional and personal issues to take the next step forward into her career as a profiler of serial killers for the FBI. The issues? For professionals, read sexism, possibly corruption. For personal, rising above her past, and the terrors of the present.
Six days ago trans actress Jen Richards announced she had been hired to consult on the troubling aspects of the show on an Instagram post.
Part of Richards’ interest in creating discussions about the iconic but monstrous character of Buffalo Bill, played by Ted Levine in the 1990s film “The Silence of the Lambs,” which serves as a prequel to the events of “Clarice,” was specifically because of how negative a representation he has been for the trans community.
“Right prior to my coming out as trans I started to delicately tell a few friends and colleagues I was thinking about transitioning,” Richards said, “kind of treading water to see if I could do it successfully, and one looked at me and said, ‘Do you mean like Buffalo Bill?’”
“The creators of Clarice, the Silence of the Lambs spinoff that follows Agent Starling in the years after the events of the movie, knew that the character of Buffalo Bill created untold pain for trans people,” Richards wrote on Instagram. “Too often victims in real life, we were only ever shown as monsters. The team wanted to put to that right, especially after seeing @disclosuredoc, and worked with Nick Adams at @glaad to make sure trans people, both on and off camera, helped shape a more authentic and empathetic story. I’m proud to be part of this new take.”
Will audiences be able to maintain their interest as the stories wind their way through her distinctly feminine point of view and the bizarro crime scenes? I’m there!
Clarice premieres on CBS All Access at 10 PM, February 11.