Willem Dafoe stars in this deepfake of The Silence of the Lambs.

Ctrl Shift Face

Despite films like Face/Off trying their best to convince audiences that humans can perfectly exchange faces a la John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, it’s not yet in the realms of scientific possibility. What we can do, however, is manipulate technology to create the illusion of a perfectly replaced face.

Deepfakes, or synthetic videos where one person’s face is seamlessly superimposed onto another’s, are starting to circulate more widely online. This deepfake of a scene from The Silence Of The Lambs is one of the latest pop culture deepfakes making the rounds and, given the film in question, is also one of the most chilling.

The deepfake replaces Sir Anthony Hopkins‘ Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling with Willem Dafoe and Gillian Anderson — casting choices that make a surprising amount of sense having seen the altered video. 

As one of the internet’s most revered pop culture villains, Hannibal Lecter more than matches up with Dafoe’s slew of past villainous roles, while Anderson — who made her mark playing another red-haired FBI agent as The X-Files’ Dana Scully — fits perfectly as the young but canny Agent Starling.

Created by deepfake YouTube channel Ctrl Shift Face, the scene manipulates the first time Clarice meets Dr. Lecter behind bars. It’s an interesting (and frightening) look at not only how far deepfake technology has progressed, but also how impactful the casting of specific actors can be.

Dafoe, for instance, is known for bringing crazed characters to life. Where Hopkins brought creeping unease, Dafoe’s face brings an added unsettling edge — leaving you wondering how the film might have changed with this alternative casting.

Who’s to say what the next mind-bending deepfake might bring to life? There are countless iconic movie moments waiting for their reimagining — we may even see a deepfake of Face/Off and get exceedingly meta.

Whatever the case, given the popularity of such videos, it won’t be long before we see more and more of them pop up. 

As Lecter says: All good things to those who wait.

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