Is Mads Mikkelsen now the greatest Hannibal the Cannibal? (Poll)

NBC’s “Hannibal” is back for its third season with another rousing chorus of huzzahs from TV critics, which makes me wonder: is star Mads Mikkelsen now the definitive Hannibal Lecter?

Hannibal the Cannibal was created by author Thomas Harris in his 1981 novel “Red Dragon” and was first portrayed on film by Brian Cox in the 1986 cult hit thriller “Manhunter,” directed by Michael Mann. But the first Hannibal most of us remember was the one portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs.”

WATCH OUR PAST ‘HANNIBAL’ CHATS: Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy

Hopkins’s Hannibal was such a pop culture force of nature that the role won him the Best Actor Oscar despite relatively little screentime. He also helped earned the film the Best Picture prize, a stunning feat since the academy usually shuns horror movies.

Hopkins returned as Lecter in the 2000 sequel “Hannibal,” then played him one last time in the 2002 prequel “Red Dragon,” based on Harris’s first novel.

That was it for Hopkins. We next saw Hannibal Lecter as a young man played by Gaspard Ulliel in the under-the-radar 2007 film “Hannibal Rising,” but the famous serial killer didn’t make another strong pop cultural impact until Danish actor Mikkelsen picked up the mantle in 2013.

Mikkelsen had big shoes to fill, but he and series creator Bryan Fuller wisely established a different kind of Lecter. Where Hopkins was slithery, Mikkelsen is suave and refined, and while Hopkins is still probably the actor we first think of in the role, I’d say Mikkelsen now has a strong claim of ownership on the character. Before long, he might even overshadow his Oscar-winning predecessor.

Or maybe he already has. Do you think Mikkelsen is now the definitive Lecter? If not, did Hopkins play him best, or are you partial to the lesser known performances of Cox or Ulliel? Vote in our poll below:

9 thoughts on “Is Mads Mikkelsen now the greatest Hannibal the Cannibal? (Poll)

  1. I completely agree w/ Kyle Bailey. To me, Mikkelsen is Le Chiffre from Casino Royale, Hopkins will forever be THE DEFINITIVE Hannibal Lecter.

  2. I loved Hopkins Hannibal and it was hard for me to get used to Mads but I have to admit now that Mads is the best Hannibal. The Hannibal portrayed by Hopkins would not realistically have been capable of blending in with society as he was meant to, he was more over the top compared to Mads, the fact that Mads Hannibal can seem far more normal and that his peculiarity is much more subtle makes him all that much more haunting. Mads’ Hannibal is a better overall portrayal and shows the psychological side of Hannibal’s troubles on a much deeper level. I was beyond in love with Hopkin’s portrayal in Silence of The Lambs, I didn’t think I’d ever find ANY role that I’d love more and now I think that Mikkelson blew him out of the water. The man deserves a Grammy, or several. Sadly the show isn’t popular enough for that… yet.

  3. Anthony Hopkins has been dethroned. He had a great reign, but there is a new King of the Cannibals now, and Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal has earned that title. I’ve seen the performances of all of these men and Mads’ interpretation of Hannibal is my absolute favorite. His acting brings a depth and nuance to the role that has really elevated the character. Anthony Hopkins may have been the definitive Hannibal Lecter at one point, but Mads Mikkelsen has redefined the role and made it his own.

  4. Mads is god/the devil while playing as hannibal. Hopkins performance is irrelevant at this point. Watching mads is a true art.

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