Although Anthony Hopkins gave an iconic and award-winning performance as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, Mads Mikkelsen reinvented the character for a whole new generation in NBC’s Hannibal.
However, in a recent interview with Collider, Bryan Fuller, the creator of the TV series Hannibal, recalled the network’s original resistance to casting Mikkelsen in the role, instead, they were eager to cast Hugh Grant or John Cusack.
“There was a casting kerfuffle on who to cast for Hannibal Lecter, and there was a difference of opinion on what a traditional television network would want as a leading man and what we would want as an actor playing Hannibal Lecter to personify playing that character,” Fuller said. “I think the network wanted somebody that was much more poppy, much more mainstream, much more American I think in some ways. That was just them thinking about, ‘Okay how do we get the biggest audience for our television show? We have to cast John Cusack as Hannibal Lecter and everybody will tune in because won’t that be surprising?’ I was like, ‘Well go ahead, make an offer.’”
Fuller continued to describe the interactions between himself and NBC as they continued clashed over who should be cast in the role of the iconic cannibal for “three or four months.”
“It was an interesting dance because I’d say, ‘Mads Mikkelsen!’ and they’d say, ‘No, how about Hugh Grant?’ and I’d say, ‘Great, make an offer, he’s gonna say no,’ then they’d make an offer and he’d say no, and I’d be like, ‘What about Mads Mikkelsen?’ and they’d be like, ‘Well what about John Cusack?’ and I’d say, ‘Great, make an offer, he’s gonna say no’ and they’d make an offer and he’d say no, I’d say, ‘What about Mads Mikkelsen?’” Fuller continued. “That carousel went around for three or four months after we had cast Hugh [Dancy], it was going on for a while. Finally I just said, ‘Mads is the guy, that’s the guy I see in the role and I have to write it and I have to champion it and I have to understand it,’ and Jennifer Salke at NBC bless her heart was like, ‘Okay, that’s your guy. I believe you and trust you and I’m excited about your vision for the show.’”
As fans of the series are aware, Fuller did eventually got his actor for the role and the brilliant TV series ended up running for three seasons before ultimately failing to gather the audience numbers to save it from cancellation. However, despite five years since being axed by NBC, Fuller has recently revealed that he is still “very hopeful” that a fourth season will be developed.