5 Things

June 23, 2015

5 reasons why Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter is the best of all

The question of who played Hannibal Lecter the best will probably be an ongoing debate for some time. Some prefer Anthony Hopkins’ hammy performance. Others think that Brian Cox’s short appearance in Michael Mann’s Manhunter made before The Silence of the Lambs eclipsed him. But a new kid on the block has arrived on the scene in the last couple of years. Mads Mikkelsen is the third actor to give his interpretation of ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ in NBC’s Hannibal, now into it’s third, and sadly final, season. And he is not short of approval!

It may seem to some that it is too soon to assess Mikkelsen’s representation as the best of all, but it is a pretty safe bet that when the show concludes Mads Mikkelsen’s name will be said in many breaths as the best of all of them. The aim of this article will be to list all the credible factors as to why that will be a very real possibility.

1) Starting with discussing the show’s latest season, season 3, Lecter told Bedelia that “he happened” and that he did not become the way he has because of any circumstances, unlike Lecter in that awful prequel movie, Hannibal Rising. While Hopkins was really good in the role, unfortunately Hannibal Rising has tainted his portrayal, seeing as the movie is considered cannon as it was created by none other than Thomas Harris, Lecter’s initial creator.

2) The good thing about the television show is that it has allowed for viewers to get to see Mikkelsen’s Lecter to show many more emotions than Hopkins and Cox, who could do little more in a jail cell other than try and look menacing. Mikkelsen has given the character a much more wider emotional range. We have seen him sad, disappointed, angry and even express sympathy! This makes the character much more complex and interesting.

3) In Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (2001), we all saw how violent Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter could be from the flashbacks and “in movie” video footage that we saw but the one in the show needn’t be violent to show how cruel he could be! Take Lecter reviving Bella after she self euthanised because she was in a lot of pain suffering with lung cancer. And then there was letting his friend Will Graham go through the torturous effects of having encephalitis all for his own benefit. Oh, and framing him which ultimately ended with Graham being incarcarated for over half of season two. Interestingly, none of these things involved cannibalism!

4) As well as displaying the emotions of the character, fans will find it difficult to forget that icy stare that Mikkelsen lent to the character. Again, referring to season 3, the scene when Mikkelsen stepped out of the shower in a flashback to the events that took place just after the season two finale, for a few moments surely viewers were concerned for Bedelia. Even earlier in this particular episode, in the opening sequence you just knew that Dr. Fell, the guy that Hannibal stole the identity from, was in imminent danger! Anthony Hopkins could possibly give Mikkelsen a run for his money as, he too, gave his portrayal his own unique gaze but decided to throw in the campiness to go with it.

5) Perhaps one of the most bizarre things that viewers probably have felt for Hannibal in the show is sympathy. Remember in season two when the hospital warden turned killer and shot Hannibal with a tranquilizer dart and Hannibal sank slowly to the depths of the swimming pool? Or when Hannibal was strung up by him with his feet desperately trying to cling on to the stool so he would not hang? And there he was being strung up again by Mason Verger and his cronies with the danger of being consumed by pigs a little later on. Are you telling me that you did not feel a sense of anxiety and sympathy?

With the news yesterday that Hannibal has sadly been cancelled by NBC, it is hopeful that another network or online distributor will pick it up again although it is imagined that it will be some time before any announcement will be made, if at all. And if season three is to be the last season of the show then it is hopeful that this article will contribute to sending the show off on a high note because it has been a fascinating ride!

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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