Clarice Starling will not be reduced to being a run-of-the-mill weekly crimesolver when CBS’ Silence of the Lambs follow-up series arrives at midseason.
Greenlit in May and now five weeks into production, Clarice stars Aussie actress Rebecca Breeds (The Originals, Pretty Little Liars) in the role played on film by Jodie Foster, and promises “a deep dive into the untold personal story of FBI Agent Clarice Starling as she returns to the field in 1993,” six months after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Both “brilliant and vulnerable,” Clarice has a “complex psychological makeup that comes from a challenging childhood empowers her to begin to find her voice while working in a man’s world, as well as escape the family secrets that have haunted her throughout her life,” the official logline reminds us.
“Hannibal [Lecter] is an incredible character, as is [FBI agent] Will Graham,” Clarice executive producer Alex Kurtzman noted in the latest THR’s Top 5 podcast, “but Clarice Starling has a truly unique amazing psychology, and part of why Silence of the Lambs was so wonderful is the film put you so squarely in her shoes.”
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Acknowledging the “responsibilities and expectations” that come with continuing such a hero’s story, Kurtzman said, “I’ll tell what we didn’t want [the TV series] to be. We didn’t want it to be Clarice Starling: The Procedural. We just weren’t go to make that show…. And MGM, who was gracious enough to trust us with the rights to Clarice, had no interest in making that show.”
As such, Kurtzman envisioned Clarice as a streaming series, but CBS CCO David Nevins lobbied for it to air on CBS proper. “I said, ‘I don’t see that. I’m not go to reduce it to a procedural,'” Kurtzman recalled. “[David] said, ‘You can do whatever show you want.’ I said, ‘It’s going to be serialized,’ he said, ‘Do it on the network.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ and he said yes.”
And to date, CBS has stayed true to its word. “Everybody, top down at the network, has not given us one note to make it more procedural since we started,” Kurtzman avowed. “It’s actually been kind of amazing.”
Kurtzman allowed that while there is inherently a procedural element to the titular FBI agent’s investigations, Clarice very much leads with “a sense of emotional psychology. The title of the pilot is ‘The Silence Is Over,’ and that’s actually what we want the outline for the show to be. It’s ‘Clarice Starling is finally speaking,’ and she’s exploring lots of new things about herself after the trauma of Buffalo Bill.”
And considering the rich backstory the character was given in the Thomas Harris novels, “There’s so much to dig into there,” Kurtzman noted.