While Sir Anthony Hopkins is iconic as the role of Hannibal Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen also did a fantastic job. Mikkelsen played the well-known character for three seasons of Hannibal. Did you know, though; that the network execs didn’t want the Danish actor in the titular role? Bryan Fuller says NBC wanted John Cusack or Hugh Grant. Someone more well-known that Mikkelsen was at the time. It was after NBC found out Fuller was bringing in Mikkelson that the network stopped having any interest in promoting the show.
“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. 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.’”
“It was an interesting dance because I’d say, ‘Mads Mikkelsen!’ and they’d say, ‘No, how about Hugh Grant?’. 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?’. 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?’” the creator confessed. “
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.’”
Fuller then went on to admit:
“They sort of gave up on it a little bit because we were casting a European guy as the face of [a show] they wanted to be more accessible. I felt that they were right for their reasons but wrong for my reasons. And so the gift of that, the gift of casting Mads Mikkelsen, is that their investment in the show became dramatically decreased. So that allowed us to do a lot of things that we wouldn’t have been able to do if they were saying, ‘No this show needs to get 10 million people watching it every week’. Because then we would have to really be tied down to certain parameters of storytelling. That were going to mesh with a mainstream audience.”
A little odd that NBC made such a big deal over Hannibal not being played by an American. Considering Hopkins is Welsh. What do you think about Fuller’s comments?
A girl with too many fandoms to count.