Mads Mikkelsen Source
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Emmy Spotlight – Showrunner: Bryan Fuller

Source: Studio System News
Date: June 27, 2013

Fuller: Mads is an amazing actor who has these wonderful micro-expressions that just draw you in because he doesn’t over-perform anything. It’s all insular and vibrations on the surface. His interpretation of Hannibal as the Devil is one of my favorites because there is such a grand mythology to this character. If you look at the literature, Thomas Harris describes Hannibal as having red eyes and an extra finger. He’s a bit of an operatic character to begin with and Mads comes in and grounds everything with this steely, icy performance that’s still hot. I loved seeing Mads in scenes with Gillian Anderson because they both have this icy sexiness to them. They’re so intriguing and they have such wonderful chemistry together. I’m eager to write more of that in season two.


SSN: We couldn’t get the phrase you coined for the show, “elegant horror,” out of our head – it describes Dr. Lecter to a T because of Mads Mikkelsen’s looks.
Fuller: And the litheness of the way he moves. He has this dancer’s physique. The stuntmen who coordinated the fight sequence between Lecter and Tobias Barnes were reveling in Mads’ skill level at being able to perform the stunts in such a coordinated way. It’s very much a dance. It was great to have someone who understands dancer’s choreography to create a fight sequence which is all very meticulous movements that have to be performed at exactly the right time or someone will get hurt.


SSN: Are there any plans to see any of Dr. Lecter’s formative years in flashback in season two?
Fuller: We definitely want to learn more about Hannibal Lecter but that may come from learning about characters from his past who make appearances. I’d love to reference his relationship with his sister Misha as being pivotal. There is a slight timeline difference between having a modern-day Hannibal as opposed to having a Hannibal who existed in the late 70s / early 80’s. This makes him old enough to be alive during World War II and have the experiences detailed in “Hannibal Rising,” like him fleeing the Nazis and the Nazis eating his with his sister, which is why he became a cannibal. For me, that is over explaining. I think there’s something so much more mythological about Lecter and his cannibalism and his predatory nature on mankind that is oversimplified with “Nazis ate my sister and that’s why I did it.”

It’s a tricky tone because it is a horror show but you have a fantastic protagonist, antagonist really, in Hannibal Lecter, who is a bit of a devil. Mads Mikkelsen’s interpretation of the character is that he’s not so much a cannibalistic psychiatrist, but the Devil himself. He is in awe of the beauty of mankind and can be quite punitive when he feels human beings are not being respectful of our positions in the chain of glory (for lack of a better word) between animals, humans and the gods above us. Hannibal sees himself as inhuman, which is why he can identify some humans as cattle as opposed to on his level. That was always an interesting distinction for me in talking to Mads, because he felt that there was a grandness to the character that couldn’t quite be contained in the flesh of a mere mortal man. We talk about that in the writer’s room, and about needing to protect both aspects of the story. Hannibal has to exist as a human being; he can’t have magical powers that allow him to do things outside the realm of reality, but it is interesting to wonder how that ear got in Will’s stomach. How did Hannibal do that? He put the ear on the end of a long fork and stuck it down Will’s throat. Then there’s the explanation that Hannibal is the devil. I’d love to be able to maintain a consistency that allows for both interpretations of the character. As a fan of fantasy and phantasmagorical cinema, I love the idea that he is a devil working here on Earth and that Will Graham is the latest foe. There’s something that appeals to the fanboy in me about having that heightened level of drama and mythology to make it feel epic even though it’s quite grounded. I also have to be responsible to the source material in that Hannibal is never portrayed as the Devil even though he has red eyes and a sixth finger.