Odd assemblage of genre actors to star in NBC’s Hannibal

Hannibal - Season 1

If only it wasn’t another incarnation of Hannibal Lecter.

In hindsight the Academy Awards sweep of Silence of the Lambs at the 1992 Oscar ceremony seems very strange.  A win for a horror movie about a cannibal that took best film, best director for Jonathan Demme, best actor for Anthony Hopkins as the villain Lecter, best actress for Jodie Foster, and best writing for Ted Tally’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel–it was pretty much unheard of.  The actual antagonist in the film was far creepier than Hopkins’ Lecter, played by Ted Levine, who would go on to star as the far kinder cop in Monk.  The Hunt for Red October and Silverado star Scott Glenn also had a key role in the film as an FBI director.

One explanation for the Oscar wins was that the events were preceded by actual cannibalism in the news and as sometimes happens Oscar nods to movies reflecting life.  The other is that it was a pretty bad year for movies, with Lambs facing off against the underwhelming JFK, Bugsy, and The Prince of Tides (it beat one acclaimed film, the bigger box office draw for the year, the successful animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast).  It also beat out two of the best sci-fi films of all time: Terminator 2 and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Yet which of these are the only films that stand up to repeated viewings today?  Not Lambs or Tides or Bugsy or JFK, but the now classic genre films Terminator, Trek VI, and Beast.

Hannibal poster

Likely because of the Oscar wins, Hopkins returned as Lecter ten years later in the sequel Hannibal, and a year later in Red Dragon.  In 2007 yet another film franchise prequel was churned out with Hannibal Rising, starring Gaspard Ulliel as Lecter.  Audiences–or filmmakers–must not be able to get enough of “Hannibal the cannibal” twenty years later, as NBC is premiering a new series next month based on Thomas Harris’s novels, titled Hannibal.

Hannibal TV series?  It seems so 1992.  Previews resemble this season’s other serial killer series, The Following, which beat Hannibal to TV screens.  Yet there are several reasons to at least check out the pilot for this series:  the incredible number of genre actors that have linked themselves to this new series.  Check out this list:

Mads Mikkelsen.  One of our all-time favorite James Bond villains, Danish actor Mikkelsen played the bleeding-eyed gambler Le Chiffre in Casino Royale.  He also played Tristan in King Arthur, Draco in Clash of the Titans, Rochefort in The Three Musketeers, and he starred in last year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee, A Royal Affair.  Mikkelsen plays Lecter in the series and is probably enough reason alone to check out the series.

Mikkelsen as Hannibal

Caroline Dhavernas.  Dhavernas starred in our favorite short-lived comedy Wonderfalls, and we haven’t seen her in the States much since.  In Hannibal Dhavernas plays Dr. Alana Bloom, a professor and profiler.

Laurence Fishburne.  The Matrix’s Fishburne will take on the role played by Scott Glenn in Lambs, Agent Jack Crawford.  Starring in Predators, Event Horizon, Assault on Precinct 13, and performing in roles as far back as M*A*S*H and Apocalypse Now, you can’t really get enough of Fishburne.

Gina Torres.  The co-star of Firefly, Angel, and Hercules, Torres will play Jack Crawford’s wife in the series.

Eddie Izzard.  An actor who makes every production he is in better, Izzard will play an imprisoned criminal in the series.  Izzard has starred in The Riches, Valkyrie, Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Shadow of the Vampire and some of the funniest stand-up comedy performances ever.

Dancy stars in Hannibal

Hugh Dancy. The least known of the roster of actors is the co-star of the series.  Co-star of Ella Enchanted and Galahad in King Arthur, Claire Danes’ real-life hubbie Dancy plays Special Agent Will Graham, a profiler of serial killers like Kevin Bacon’s character in The Following.

Gillian Anderson.  And we saved the best for last: X-Files’s own Special Agent Dana Scully returns not as an FBI agent, but Lecter’s psychoanalyst, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier.

Gillian Anderson

Here is a preview for the series, and note this series is not for the squeamish, with blood and gore and crime scene horror:

Hannibal begins Thursday, April 4, 2013, on NBC.

C.J. Bunce

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