Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, and Mads Mikkelsen have all taken up the elegant, poised, and devilishly charming mantle of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Though Cox and Hopkins are immeasurable in their respective roles as the greatest villain fiction has ever seen, Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal gives us far more than we bargained for. Mikkelsen told Hannibal series creator Bryan Fuller he "didn't want to play Anthony Hopkins or Brian Cox. He wanted to play Satan," redefining a character horror audiences were already so familiar with.
Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter lives up to the challenge of revitalizing a role most would argue had already been played to perfection. Over the course of three seasons on NBC's Hannibal, he gives us a glimpse into the operatic, gothic romance that is his life in Baltimore surrounded by elite and powerful figures.
For his style, his recipes, and his relationship with Will Graham alone, Mikkelsen is the best Hannibal Lecter we never expected.
Mikkelsen's Hannibal Never Lies
In the Season 2 episode, "Su-zakana," Will decisively encapsulates Hannibal's approach to deceit: "I don't expect you to admit anything you can't, but I prefer sins of omission to outright lies, Dr. Lecter. Don't. Lie to me.”
Even at his most deceitful, Mikkelsen's Hannibal does not lie. He relies mostly on half-truths, misdirection, and charm to convince the people around him he can be trusted. Above all else, lying is rude, and we all know how Hannibal feels about the rude.
When Will finally confronts Hannibal in the Season 1 episode "Savoureux," he points his weapon at him and asks, "Are you a murderer, Dr. Lecter?"
Instead of denying the accusation, Hannibal genuinely wonders, "What reason would I have?" - perhaps hoping Will was being honest himself when he said, "I can see you."
Hannibal often answers hard questions by diverting the conversation to a more interesting point, allowing him to use his advanced intellect to manipulate and deceive instead of outright lying to those he deems unworthy of the truth.Convinced?
Mikkelsen Said There Is A 'Real Love' To What Hannibal Draws His Attention Toward
Though Hannibal is "worshipping things the rest of us find horrifying," Mikkelsen emphasizes that "there is a real love to it, there isn't an ego." Hannibal is never afraid of his own mortality, which allows him to take risks and celebrate life in the most intimate way possible.
Over the course of the show, we regularly see the doctor at work. He prepares every meal with patience and puts a great deal of thought into the source of the meat, the disposal of parts he doesn't want, the preparation, and the presentation. Such patience would be unattainable if he didn't genuinely care about his craft.Convinced?
Mikkelsen Sometimes Had To Look Up Words For Scenes
Hannibal is a refined intellectual "who loves talking," according to Mikkelsen himself. The actor revealed that his time in the role expanded his vocabulary. He and his dialogue coach apparently had to look up "every tenth word" to understand just what Hannibal was trying to communicate.
Mikkelsen's Danish accent allows him to create his own interesting backstory for Hannibal. His version of the character was "born in Lithuania. Educated in Paris and England... a bit of a snob, but a good host and excellent company."Convinced?
Mikkelsen's Performance Is Rooted In Realism
Despite the operatic, fantastical overtones of the show itself, Mikkelsen's Hannibal is rooted in his seriousness. Vulture critic Matt Zoller Seitz points out the show's dialogue often "sounds like what vampires might say to each other if they got stoned," but it's Mikkelsen's delivery that makes it work.
The character almost seems to exist in a Victorian gothic romance, as described by SyFy Wire, and yet, he takes himself so seriously that lines like, "The tragedy is not to die... but to be wasted," sound natural.Convinced?