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12 Reasons Why Mads Mikkelsen Is The Best Hannibal Lecter

List RulesVote up the reasons that make Mikkelsen such a great 'Hannibal.'

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.

  • Photo: NBC
    248 VOTES

    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.

  • Photo: NBC
    362 VOTES

    Mikkelsen's Micro-Expressions Help Preserve Hannibal's Facade

    Hannibal prioritizes the preservation of his genuine self. Mikkelsen's inimitable micro-expressions, such as a small twitch of the lips, subtly convey what he's thinking in a way only someone who knows him as intimately as Will Graham would notice.

    In the debut season's third episode, "Potage," when Hannibal walks into Will's classroom as he profiles the copycat slayer, he ever so slightly smiles, revealing his pleasure with Will's accurate analysis of him. He enjoys being seen, as he so rarely is.

    Mikkelsen's version of Hannibal also has to hide his disgust when in the presence of those he deems inconsiderate. His stoicism allows people to project the persona they want to see, which explains how he manages to charm Baltimore's elite, including the FBI.

    Even Alana Bloom can't help but fall for the doctor - her former mentor - once she believes she's gotten a glimpse into his sincere heart. Of course, even that version of him is false - and she pays the price.

  • Photo: NBC
    238 VOTES

    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."

  • Photo: NBC
    296 VOTES

    Mikkelsen's Hannibal Can Conceal His Evil

    Dr. Lecter demonstrates empathy to gain insight into his prey. In order to best manipulate them, or truly devastate them, he has to learn what it is they're afraid of and what their desires are. Most people will only reveal such insights to someone they trust - someone they are close to. Someone like their therapist. In this case, it's essential that Hannibal is able to conceal his darkness. In Will's own words, "You have no traceable motive... which is why you were so hard to see. You were just curious what I would do."

    Abigail Hobbs is the first character to show us exactly how skilled Dr. Lecter is at hiding. He uses her trauma to control her, making sure he is the only person she can trust, and even convincing her to fake her own demise. 

    Hannibal is so confident in his disguise, in fact, that he throws a carnivorous dinner party at the beginning of Season 2. With Will pointing the finger at him, he still isn't afraid to feed the FBI those they are seeking justice for.