Mads Mikkelsen on ‘Hannibal’: “I think he is as close as you can come to the devil”

mads-mikkelsen-hannibalIt seems like there would be many challenges to playing an iconic character like cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter.  Luckily for Mads Mikkelsen, he’s not a picky eater.

“I’ve never been afraid of eating strange things,” he admitted in an interview with Metro.  “There was one dish, head cheese [a jellied loaf made from the head, feet, tongue and heart of a pig], which smelt a bit odd—I hadn’t realized before that it wasn’t cheese at all.  But I still tried it.  It was delicious.”

Mikkelsen is currently portraying Lecter in the NBC series, Hannibal, based on Thomas Harris’ novels.  The role was made famous by Brian Cox in the 1986 film Manhunter and by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.

“Both of those performances were iconic and I am not trying to emulate them,” Mikkelsen said.  “We are starting in a different situation.  My Hannibal is not yet captured, I am still out on the loose, I am a practicing psychiatrist, so I behave a little differently.”

The main reason the Danish actor decided to take on the role was the complex aspects of Hannibal’s personality.  “One of the key things I found interesting from the books was that when he rips out the tongue of a nurse, his pulse does not get above 60,” he said.  “But in our version, his heart does beat sometimes when he chooses.

“I think he is as close as you can come to the devil, in the sense that the devil has no reasons.”

Hannibal airs on NBC, Thursdays at 10 p.m.

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