Return of the Dragon: Mads Mikkelsen on “HANNIBAL” Season Three!


With Bryan Fuller taking his shot at editing FANGORIA #343, the wait for HANNIBAL to return has become an even more difficult endeavor for fright fans. However, Fuller was able to sneak FANGORIA onto the set of HANNIBAL last month, and we were able to catch up with the brilliant cast of the surreal series. Our second chat was with man behind HANNIBAL’s titular terror, actor Mads Mikkelsen, who offered up a tantalizing taste of what’s on Dr. Lecter’s plate this season…

FANGORIA: What’s the most exciting aspect of returning to HANNIBAL for season three?

MADS MIKKELSEN: The excitement for any TV show coming back to something is always that we do not exactly know what it is. There’s always been a tendency to stir things up in the third season of a TV show; to try to create something new based on what we have. The first two seasons are always going hand in hand. Everybody knows that the third one is probably going to be slightly different. It has been the case on this one. Its exciting to see your friends and your colleagues and then just see what Bryan Fuller has stirred up, which is complete madness this time.

FANGORIA: What exactly was different this time?

MIKKELSEN: We have not had a lot of intimate conversations; it’s been a little more outgoing. Maybe a little more liberated. There are some crazy characters, and some crazy things are happening, so that’s been a change.

FANGORIA: Can you tell us something about Hannibal’s relationship to Will, because it seems to be different than in previous seasons?

MIKKELSEN: Will is always a tricky thing, because in many ways that was the ultimate ending of our relationship in the second season. To try to figure out how can they go on from there has been a challenge of course, but in Will’s world, it’s double sided, right?

FANGORIA: We’ve never seen Hannibal in a leather jacket on a motorcycle before on the series. How has he changed as a character in season three?

MIKKELSEN: Yeah, Hannibal. It’s a little tricky. I mean, we are luring you guys into believing that is the whole third season. It’s a little part of his life where he’s wearing that. He’s pretty good at being undercover in the sense of taking other people’s identities and that is somebody else’s identity he’s wearing at that point.

It was fun to do, definitely. People who were on the show for the first time and was only for that scene had no idea what was going on, because I was basically not the Hannibal they knew, right? So it was fun.

FANGORIA: As an actor is that fun to portray different sides of this Hannibal character?

MIKKELSEN: It’s always fun when we play multifaceted characters and I think he is one of the most multifaceted characters I’ve ever done because it is very, very hard to predict when he’s honest and dishonest while he’s doing the various things he is doing. So he is one of the most fun characters to give life to.

FANGORIA: What’s your favorite thing about playing Hannibal?

MIKKELSEN: Many things. I mean, as I just mentioned, the character himself is very hard to predict, which is fun for an actor as well as my wonderful colleagues, who I’ve worked with for over three years now. Bryan Fuller constantly surprises us with ideas that makes us happy, and I’m grateful that he is a writer and not roaming the streets with his crazy ideas. He’s the engine and the gasoline on the show.

FANGORIA: Three years ago, was it hard to take this role?

MIKKELSEN: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not a secret that you are walking in some giant shoes since a couple of people have done it to perfection. We also knew that we were doing something quite different. We also knew that we would get hell on earth for it from some and other people would embrace it. But, I think we have proven that we have our own right to be doing what we are doing. It took a little while for some of the critics, but quite a few of them have surrendered, and that makes us really proud.

FANGORIA: Is there something about Hannibal that you would love to have in real life,  as in his behavior or skills?

MIKKELSEN: Well the ability to embrace life as he does is quite fascinating, and unfortunately, embrace death as well.

FANGORIA: Do you ever read the script and feel like anything is too much?

MIKKELSEN: No. I never feel like it’s too much in the sense of like crossing a border where we offend people. That does not exist in my world. I mean, the more we can cross [that border], the better the show is. It can be wrong. Certain things can be like, “I don’t think that feels right for the show, or feels right for that specific situation,” but never too much. No.


FANGORIA: By the time we get to the Red Dragon storyline, are we going to see a more sinister aspect of Hannibal come out? Sort of like a caged animal?

MIKKELSEN: If you strip him down to his basics, Hannibal would still be very sophisticated. Obviously you will see that when he fights, he can turn around on a plate. But, he’s a very sophisticated man, and he loves that.

FANGORIA: Are we going to learn anything about Hannibal’s past this season?

MIKKELSEN: Well I can’t really relive what’s happened in his life, but we will touch his childhood. We will go back to figure out why he’s haunted, and we will get some answers. But as often with this universe, we don’t get all the answers. Is it a lie? Is it the truth? But we will definitely touch it.

I don’t think it will explain why he is who he is, though. Without that childhood, he would have been the same, if you ask me. I think that’s one of the things we are trying to achieve: not to have a narrow explanation of why. If there is no explanation we certainly cannot accept that evilness can be around us.

FANGORIA: How do you think that Hannibal sees himself: a villain or a hero?

MIKKELSEN: I think he sees himself as a life consumer, and a man who embraces life. He doesn’t use the terms villain or hero. He does talk a lot about God; I think he’s slightly jealous of god. I think he has a battle going on there, and I think that if there is a God, he’s trying to annoy him as much as he can. I think that is his little thing. He doesn’t see himself as above life, but he does like to play god. I think he finds that interesting.

FANGORIA: How does Hannibal’s relationship with Du Maurier evolve this season?

MIKKELSEN: Oh yeah, well, it’s not a healthy one. Let’s put it that way. She is also quite twisted person, and we will definitely touch the background story of what kind of history they have together. But it’s been real fun to work with her for that long.

You should see the way that Gillian is giving life to her character while she has this ice queen touch about her. Obviously we’ve seen Hannibal have that as well. But you have also see a very emotional Hannibal in certain situations. She is as well. There’s a distance between them that’s kind of warm, kind of strange and interesting. I call it a slightly sick brother-sister relationship with some sexual undertones.

FANGORIA: What is it about the show that you think people embrace?

MIKKELSEN: It has to be the combination of everything. I mean, some people are just into horror and for that reason ,they will watch it. It’s fundamentally interesting and thrilling stories, but beyond that, I think there’s an artistic approach to the whole thing that appeals to other people. Some people are being pushed away by it.

FANGORIA: Do you have a favorite TV show? Do you have time to watch?

MIKKELSEN: I don’t have a lot of time, but I do tend to always go back to THE WALKING DEAD. I just have a thing for zombies. I’m always cheering for the zombies, we all are. I like zombies.

FANGORIA: You have worked in TV as well as in art house cinema. What do you like about each of those dynamics?

MIKKELSEN: I think it is very art house what we are doing on HANNIBAL. I mean for me, there’s not a big difference. HANNIBAL is a very long art house movie in the way we approach it and the time we have to do it. The whole TV world right now is far more art house than some art house films are. They’re more brave and more radical than a lot of films. If we look at the numbers and the ratings of HANNIBAL, I believe that is art house ratings.

FANGORIA: In the kitchen scene at the end of season 2, when Hannibal throws himself over the counter, we heard that was you actually doing that stunt…

MIKKELSEN: For 50 years, I’ve been able to jump. I got the chance to here, and I always do my own stunts.

FANGORIA: Do you have any this season?

MIKKELSEN: I have quite a few. I have some encounters with old familiar faces, and it’s gonna be quite brutal. As long as I’m fit enough, one of the things I enjoy about being an actor is to do the stunts. I’m an old gymnast, an old dancer, and I hate seeing somebody else do my part. If it looks good enough, they’ll let me do it.

FANGORIA: Was there ever a talk of getting Nicolas Winding Refn involved in the show? He would be a perfect fit for the aesthetics.

MIKKELSEN: I think they have talked about it. I think he’s been way too busy. I think he would like it. Normally I guess that Nicolas wants to start his own things and be complete in charge, and not necessarily take over something that’s already running. But I think actually he would enjoy this one.

HANNIBAL returns on Thursday, June 4th at 10 p.m. EST on NBC. HANNIBAL creator/writer Bryan Fuller will be serving as FANGORIA’s first Special Guest Editor for Issue #343; you can subscribe to FANGORIA here. Keep an eye out for more HANNIBAL coverage here at FANGORIA.com!

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About the author
Jessie Robbins
Jessie Robbins is a three-time college dropout with a taste for the macabre. Hailing from Southern Ontario, Jessie spends all of her free time watching horror films and writing about them at Ashes and Rashes (www.ashesandrashes.com) or talking about them on the Land of the Creeps podcast (www.landofthecreeps.blogspot.ca).
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