Arts & Entertainment

‘Silence of the Lambs’ star discusses researching Buffalo Bill portrayal

Ted Leveine as Buffalo Bill

Ted Leveine as Buffalo Bill

Some of the people there had hormones and augmented stuff, but they all had penises and they’d all get out there and lip-sync to Barbra Streisand and the latest thing. They were female impersonators and they were wonderful. I talked to a lovely, probably 5-foot-1 Hispanic boy-girl and bought him a drink. I asked, ‘Why do you do this?’ He said, ‘When I’m a dude on the street, I’m just a little Puerto Rican motherfucker. When I’m here, I’m a hot Latina mama.’ It struck me that it was about power. He was a pathetic excuse for a man on all kinds of levels. But by trying to become a woman, he gains power, and hence the moth — the larva turning into the butterfly, the whole thing blossoming — it was the same impetus as a female impersonator, but it became psychotic. It was donning the cloak of feminine power.”

Ted Levine, speaking with Rolling Stone about visiting transvestite bars to research his character Buffalo Bill in the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs

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