The Silence of the Lambs broke the mold for Hollywood's expectations of psychological horror thrillers with explicit depictions of heinous acts. Not only did the 1991 film make enough money to cement its place as the fifth highest-grossing movie that year, but it also garnered Oscar wins for Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, director Jonathan Demme, screenwriter Ted Tally, and Best Picture.
Hopkins's Hannibal Lecter has a relatively small part in the film but garnered more attention than main antagonist Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). Many fans know Lecter found part of his genesis in real-life monster Robert Maudsley, but do people know who and what informed the creation of Gumb?
Several high-profile criminals, including serial offender Ed Gein, supposedly inspired Thomas Harris - author of the novel The Silence of the Lambs - in his characterization of Gumb. Levine furthered the shaping of Gumb with his own take on the personality and motives of Clarice Starling's elusive adversary with a deep dive into the mind of another serial predator. Additionally, a detective's interactions with Ted Bundy spurred the character into existence.
Ted Bundy's Role In Tracking The Green River Killer Inspired Thomas Harris's Book
Gumb's Obsession With Making A 'Woman Suit' Came From The Notorious Ed Gein
The Capture Of Catherine Martin Is Modeled After Ted Bundy’s Tactics
Gumb's Background In The Novel Mirrors Those Of Ed Kemper And Jerry Brudos
Actor Ted Levine Visited LGBTQ+ Friendly Bars To Flesh Out Gumb's Character
The Infamous Dancing Scene Was Improvised