CBS is the latest entertainment brand to get into the Silence of the Lambs business. Nearly 30 years to the day that the Oscar-winning film debuted in American theaters, the sequel series Clarice is set to make its network debut. Unlike the NBC series several years ago, which focused on Hannibal Lecter and his culinary pursuits before the events of the film, Clarice centers around FBI agent Clarice Starling, picking up a year after she shot and killed Buffalo Bill. The series, a mix of procedural and serial, sees Clarice dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the film's events while also joining a select FBI task force set up to investigate and apprehend serial killers.
While you won't see Hannibal Lecter here, Clarice does bring back several characters from the film, played by a mix of newcomers and longtime character actors. Here's a quick look at who's playing which characters, and where you may have seen them before:
You likely already know who Clarice Starling is. An FBI trainee who was sent to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter for information regarding the serial killer known as "Buffalo Bill," Starling ended up using Lecter's information and her own instincts to find Buffalo Bill, kill him, and rescue Catherine Martin. In the year since these events, Starling has become the most well-known FBI agent in the country, and although she remains psychologically tormented by what she saw and did in the home of James Gumb, her reputation as an agent precedes her. Which is why she's tapped to join a task force meant to track down serial killers. Into this incredibly famous role — previously been played by Oscar-winners Jodie Foster and Julianne Moore — steps Australian actress Rebecca Breeds. Breeds is best known in Australia for starring in the teen surf drama Blue Water High from 2005-08, then starring in the Aussie soap Home and Away. Here in the U.S., she's had recurring roles on Pretty Little Liars and The Originals.
Clarice's closest friend at the FBI academy was Ardelia Mapp, played in The Silence of the Lambs by actress/director Kasi Lemmons. It was with Ardelia's help that Clarice made the breakthrough that Buffalo Bill knew his first victim personally, which led to her tracking him down. In Clarice, Ardelia has graduated to the FBI, where she's working on cold cases but is always available to do a little investigative work for her pal Clarice on the side. She also remains Clarice's only reservoir of emotional support. Devyn Tyler, an actress and cultural scholar, has recently appeared on Fear the Walking Dead, The Purge TV series, and on HBO's Watchmen as Elise Abar, mother to Regina King's character.
While she was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Ruth Martin's daughter, Catherine, was captured by the serial killer Buffalo Bill. After being cruelly taunted by the then-imprisoned Hannibal Lecter, Martin entrusted the FBI to save her daughter, and although they were on the wrong track, Clarice Starling wasn't. Now, a year or so later, Martin is the Attorney General of the U.S. and has turned to Starling to join VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension), the task force she created to help track down and thwart other serial murderers. A.G. Martin agonizes over her daughter's lingering scars from her abduction/imprisonment, but she's also a tough boss and a consummate politician, willing to play the game she needs to play to keep her unit in business. She's played by veteran character actress Jayne Atkinson, whose best-known roles include Karen Hayes on 24, Catherine Durant on House of Cards, and Dean Reuther on Gossip Girl. She also played the mom in Free Willy!
Veteran character actor Michael Cudlitz is probably best remembered for his character Abraham Ford and his unpleasant end on The Walking Dead. But he's also known for his acclaimed performance on the TNT drama Southland, or most recently on the ABC sitcom The Kids Are Alright. On Clarice, he'll be playing FBI agent Paul Krendler, who appeared briefly in The Silence of the Lambs but is a major recurring character in the larger Hannibal Lecter-verse. Played by Ray Liotta in the 2001 film Hannibal, Krendler was an adversarial presence for Agent Starling, and ended up suffering an infamous fate at the hands of Dr. Lecter. Here, Krendler remains adversarial to Clarice Starling as the lead agent on VICAP, unimpressed with Starling's insights and quietly resentful over her solving of the Buffalo Bill case.
Esquivel is part of the VICAP task force, a former Army ranger and sniper. While the entire team is initially resistant to Clarice, Esquivel is the first to help her out on a hunch. After a guest starring role on The Punisher, Lucca De Oliveira has appeared in recurring roles on TNT's Animal Kingdom and CBS's SEAL Team.
Kal Penn will probably always be recognized first and foremost as one half of the title pair in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, but we should probably talk just as much about his appointment in 2009 to the Obama administration's Office of Public Engagement. He's also starred on such shows as House and Designated Survivor and in films like The Namesake and Van Wilder. On Clarice, his character Shaan Tripathi is described as the "library" of the VICAP task force, which feels like a nice way of saying he's the nerd.
If Tripathi is the nerd of the VICAP task force, Murray Clarke is the old-school grump. He's also described by Agent Krendler as the team's "lie detector." Clarke follows the traditional methods of crime solving, and he's not at all sold on Agent Starling's behavioral analysis techniques. He's played by Nick Sandow, who is best-known as prison warden Joe Caputo on Orange Is the New Black.
Catherine Martin was abducted by the serial killer Buffalo Bill when he posed as an injured man trying to load a couch into a van. He then kept her in his basement dungeon for days, planning to eventually murder and skin her. But Clarice Starling came around and saved her, which is great news, except Catherine is deeply (and understandably) messed up from the experience. She's kept Precious the dog since the incident, which really toes the line between sweet and macabre. Catherine has repeatedly reached out to Clarice in the months since she was freed, but Clarice, also traumatized, doesn't return her calls. She's played by actress Marnee Carpenter in her first major TV role.
Clarice premieres on CBS February 11th at 10:00 PM ET.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.