“Hannibal” has burst onto the primetime scene with stunning visuals, cases ranging from unsettling to downright terrifying and an outstanding performance by Hugh Dancy as the troubled-but-brilliant Will Graham.
But the Emmys shouldn’t overlook another terrific(ly scary) performance being given opposite Dancy by Mads Mikkelsen in the title role.
While Dancy is certainly given (ahem) meaty material as a profiler who can put himself into the minds of the killers he is chasing to a frightening degree, Mikkelsen’s role is much more subtle and therefore may go unnoticed.
But his quiet portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is just as compelling, if not more so, for several of reasons — not the least of which is that he had to step into a character brought to life by the inimitable Anthony Hopkins (who won an Oscar for the role over 20 years ago).
Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is its own man, or monster, as it were, quietly forming friendships with those around him all the while acting as (we suspect) the Chesapeake Ripper, a notorious serial killer that keeps his victims’ organs.
The Hannibal of NBC is alternately brilliant, amusing, creepy, troubled and sometimes more unnerving than any killer the FBI team is after. His long con at the end of the season to get Will committed was expertly executed and Mikkelsen walked the fine line between Will’s friend and Will’s enemy to the point where we still aren’t sure what his end game is.
The performance is wonderfully nuanced — Mikkelsen’s Hannibal has undefined relationships all over the series, showing his sensitive side one minute and carving up a victim for a ridiculously complex meal the next.
We are eagerly anticipating watching Mikkelsen and Dancy continue their macabre dance in Season 2 of “Hannibal,” but for now, we think Mikkelsen should crack the Best Supporting Actor Emmy category.
The 65th annual Primetime Emmy Awards announce the field of nominees on Thursday, July 18.