Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller has been discussing the impact of the series, and particularly the casting of the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen as the title character. Before Mikkelsen won the part, Doctor Who star David Tennant was in heavy consideration, and Fuller has now revealed several details regarding the actor's approach to the role.
"I love David Tennant. There was a levity to David's performance in some ways that was an interesting contrast to Mads' sobriety in the role. And I find David to be so much fun and so appealing to watch. It's hard not to love David Tennant onscreen. And that may have had something to do with it. Honestly, it was a decision that was made above my pay grade. But that would have been an interesting extrapolation to see David Tennant as Hannibal."
Since starring as the iconic Doctor in the sci-fi series, Tennant has emerged as one of the most talented actors working today, thanks to performances in the likes of Broadchurch, Jessica Jones, Good Omens, and Des, and one cannot help but wonder what his alternate Hannibal Lecter would have been like. Even Fuller occasionally drifts off and wonders how the character would have been different adding, "I do still have the audition on my laptop, and I watch it from time to time, and wonder what would it have been like, just because I love David and his acting style. But there's no doubt in my mind that Mads Mikkelsen is the right person for this job."
While Mads Mikkelsen would go on to make the role his own, with many even considering his depiction of the complicated cannibal to be even better than that of the great Anthony Hopkins, casting the actor was no easy task.
"Casting Mads was a challenge. Because I wanted him, the director wanted him, Hugh Dancy wanted him. We all universally knew that he was the right person for the job. But he was sort of this European art-house performer. NBC were trying to kind of counter-cast, in a way. They wanted Hugh Grant to play Hannibal, they wanted John Cusack. They wanted a lot of folks that were much lighter on their feet. They wanted someone effusive and comedic, and has that level of charm to them to counter all of the evil. I was like, 'Mads Mikkelsen is this role.' And I remember one of them saying, 'He's kind of creepy!' And I'm like, 'He's Hannibal Lecter!'"
Hugh Grant as Hannibal Lecter. Hugh Grant. As Hannibal Lecter. Thankfully that never happened (though again one can't help but wonder what that would have been like), with Fuller eventually getting his man after calling the studio's bluff.
"Every time they said, 'We're gonna cast Hugh Grant,' I would say, 'OK, let's make an offer,' knowing full well that Hugh Grant had just passed on $750,000 an episode for Two and a Half Men, and that was three times their licensing fee. I was like, 'It's just not realistic. He's not going do it.' I was like, 'Make an offer, and then I'll bring you back to Mads.' And so we did we did that dance at least a half a dozen times, where the network would say, 'We want Paul Bettany.' And I was like, 'Great, make an offer.' 'We want John Cusack.' 'Great, make an offer.' And everyone always passed, as I knew they would. And then I brought up Mads Mikkelsen again. And finally, after, you know, six or seven rounds of going with actors that were never going to do this role, I threw myself on the mercy of Jen Salke's desk, and said, 'I know you guys see this character in a different way. But this is how I see the character, and I have to write him, and I have to understand him, and I have to be in the trenches with him.' And Jen was like, 'OK, we trust you. We'll cast the person you want.'"
Ultimately Mikkelsen was cast and the rest is television history, with Tennant himself even admitting in 2018 that he would not have done as good a job. "I met Bryan Fuller a couple of times, and we talked about it. But I think they quite wisely chose Mads Mikkelsen, I think he was a perfect choice for it, and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn't have managed, so I think the right man got the job."
Hannibal features Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a gifted criminal profiler and hunter of serial killers, with Mads Mikkelsen taking on the role of Hannibal Lecter. The series was universally praised, and ever since being unceremoniously cancelled back in 2015, fans have been wondering if we will ever again have the pleasure of eavesdropping on the surprisingly steamy philosophical conversations between Dancy's neurotic FBI profiler and Mikkelsen's charming cannibal.
Fuller recently provided some clarity on whether we will ever be gifted a revival of the series. "I wish there was something that was definitive," Fuller said earlier this year. "I've had conversations with Hugh and Mads and the cast, in terms of like, 'This is what we would do if we were allowed to come back.' There's some ideas that I'm very excited about that continue the strange trajectory of season 3. But I have not been approached. I've knocked on every door and rang every bell. Martha and I, every couple of years, pick up our bags and go door to door and see if anybody's interested in revisiting."
Fuller went on to reveal that there are some backstage complications holding a series return back. "Martha De Laurentiis controls the rights for the Hannibal character," Fuller revealed. "[Gaumont International Television], who produced the Hannibal series that we worked on, has the rights to those characters and those situations. So if we want to continue telling the tales we were telling, Gaumont needs to be involved, Martha De Laurentiis needs to be involved. Then of course we need a network to platform us."
Hannibal remains a firm favorite among fans, with Fuller teasing that, should he be given the opportunity, he would love to bring the characters back for a miniseries based on The Silence of the Lambs. "It will be interesting to see what happens with the show moving forward or whether there is ever to be a Silence of the Lambs miniseries with this cast," he said. "The great thing about the idea - with members of the cast in terms of where we're going - is that if we are going to take five years, six years, seven years or what have you and everyone's still interested in coming back then that's just how long they've been on the lam, as it were. Then the story picks up from that point and we'll adapt."
While fans will forever be disappointed at the show's cancellation, just be thankful that we never had to watch Hugh Grant play Hannibal Lecter. This comes to us from Rolling Stone.