Lecter Based on a Mexican Prison Doctor, Times Says

(Corrects spelling of Lecter in first paragraph.)

Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal in the novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” was inspired by a doctor at a Mexican prison, author Thomas Harris said, according to the Times newspaper.

Harris said he met the doctor while working as a journalist and visiting a prison to interview an American jailed for the murder of three people, the London-based newspaper reported.

“Dr. Salazar was a small, lithe man with dark red hair,” Harris was cited as saying by the Times. “He stood very still and there was a certain elegance about him.”

Lecter, known as Hannibal the Cannibal, first appeared in Harris’ “Red Dragon” and later in “The Silence of the Lambs” and two other novels. Harris made the comments about the inspiration for the character in the foreword to the 25th anniversary edition of “The Silence of the Lambs,” extracts of which the Times has published.

Harris has never previously spoken about the inspiration for the character, the Times said. Anthony Hopkins played Lecter in a movie adaptation of the book, for which he won an Oscar for best actor.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nandini Sukumar in London at nsukumar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dick Schumacher at dschumacher@bloomberg.net

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