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The real Hannibal Lecter?
Some of Thomas Harris' new introduction about "Dr Salazar" can be seen here.

It contains a provocative exchange between Harris & Salazar about reflections and disfigurement.

Quote:Revealed for the first time: The killer doctor who inspired cannibal Hannibal Lecter

Thomas Harris reveals real-life doctor was inspiration for Hannibal Lecter
He met 'Dr Salazar' in Mexican prison while working as a journalist
Was told by warden the doctor was 'insane' and would 'never leave'
The surgeon spent 20 years in the Nuevo Leon State Prison, in Mexico

By James Rush

PUBLISHED: 09:59, 27 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:59, 27 July 2013

Daily Mail

The author behind one of the most unforgettable villains of literary and cinematic history has finally revealed the real-life inspiration behind his chilling creation.

Cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, as portrayed in the classic Silence of the Lambs by Anthony Hopkins, has been sending chills down the spines of audiences for years with his cold, calculating intelligence and violent tendencies.

Speculation about the basis for the character has been rife since reclusive author Thomas Harris first introduced him to the world in the 1981 novel Red Dragon.

But Harris has now revealed the character was inspired by a real-life doctor and murderer he met while visiting a Mexican prison in the 1960s

Author Thomas Harris (right) has revealed the inspiration for his most chilling creation, Hannibal Lecter, as played by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs (left), was in fact a real-life doctor he met in a Mexican prison while working as a journalist

Harris had been sent to the Nuevo Leon State Prison, at Monterrey, Mexico, as a 23-year-old journalist to interview Dykes Askew Simmons, a former mental patient who was under the death sentence for killing three people.

But it was here that he met 'Dr Salazar', who had apparently saved the life of Simmons after he had been shot during an attempt to escape from the prison about a year earlier.

Writing in the introduction to The Silence of the Lambs 25th anniversary edition, part of which has been published in The Times, Harris explains how he was introduced to the killer doctor by a prison warden, who failed to tell him of his violent past before the meeting.

The author has described interviewing the doctor, who he calls Dr Salazar, which he later explains is not his real name, about how he treated the gunshot wounds and stopped the bleeding.

Harris describes how the conversation took a much darker twist when the doctor begins questioning the journalist on Simmons's disfigured appearance, the nature of torment and the murderer's victims.

It's not until Harris leaves the doctor's office that he learns of Dr Salazar's history from the prison warden - the doctor was a murderer. The warden told Harris: 'He will never leave this place. He is insane.'

Harris says the doctor served 20 years in prison, but also provided the inspiration behind his most famous creation.

He explained how the detective in his novel needed to talk to someone with a 'peculiar understanding of the criminal mind', adding: 'It was not Dr Salazar. But because of Dr Salazar, I could recognise his colleague and fellow practitioner, Hannibal Lecter.'
The Silence of the Lambs 1991 official trailer

Lecter was first introduced by Harris in the 1981 novel Red Dragon, where he was depicted as a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibal.

He became part of cinematic history however when Hopkins portrayed the character in the Silence of the Lambs, winning an Academy Award for the part along the way.

It was in this film that he delivered the immortal line: 'I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti'.

In the film Lecter questions a young FBI trainee Clarice Starling about her childhood traumas, in a scene which is eerily reminiscent of Harris's depiction of his encounter with Dr Salazar.

The first film adapted from Harris'sm novels was Manhunter, which was based on Red Dragon and featured Brian Cox as Lecter.

Hopkins reprised the role however in 2001's Hannibal, where Lecter became the main character of the film.

He also played Lecter in a second adatation of Red Dragon in 2002.

The character was chosen as the number one movie villain by the American Film Institute in 2003.
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