John Cusack?! Bryan Fuller Recalls NBC’s Resistance to Cast Mads Mikkelsen as Their “Hannibal”


Sean Connery. Al Pacino. Robert De Niro. Dustin Hoffman. These are just a few of the big name actors who were reportedly considered for the role of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, which of course ultimately went to Anthony Hopkins. It was Hopkins who made the role truly iconic, winning an Academy Award and returning for two follow-ups.

Anthony Hopkins may have made Hannibal an icon, but it was Mads Mikkelsen who completely reinvented the character for a new generation. Mikkelsen took over the role for all three seasons of NBC’s brilliant series “Hannibal,” bringing to the screen a seductive, arthouse version of Lecter that quite frankly may now be the definitive depiction of the character. It’s hard to imagine anyone but the Danish actor playing the title role in Bryan Fuller‘s series, but chatting with Collider, Fuller reveals that NBC initially wanted anyone but Mikkelsen.

As Fuller recalls, NBC was dead-set on offering the role to an actor more familiar to audiences here in the United States, hopeful that a name on the marquee would draw in viewers.

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,” Fuller explains to the site.

Two of the actors who were offered the role by NBC? John Cusack and Hugh Grant!

Fuller continues, “We were dealing with a very American network that wanted a very American actor to sell to American audiences, and all the creatives on the show wanted somebody who was the best person for the role.” Of course, Fuller eventually got his way, and he credits the casting of Mikkelsen with providing the show with the freedom to be, well, what it was.

Head over to Collider for more on that.

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