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Mads Mikkelsen talks Hannibal

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Mads Mikkelsen on eating fake flesh and out-dressing Benedict Cumberbatch

Dwarfing the vices of Walter White and Dexter Morgan, Mads Mikkelsen’s Dr Lecter has turned cannibalism into prime-time entertainment in Season 1 of Hannibal. But while the spruce tailoring, bookishly charming wit and sheer charisma may have us growing fond of the character, Mads suggests that Lecter might be more antichrist than antihero…

Has Anthony Hopkins been in touch about Hannibal?

He’s wished me well and I’m sure he’s seen it, but he knows I’m playing a different side of Hannibal. Unlike him, I can’t show all my cards, I can’t wink at a cop, because my character isn’t in jail – he’s making friends in the real world. I read the original book [Red Dragon] instead of re-watching the films.

No bottles of chianti on the horizon, then…?

We’ve had a few different wines, it’s only a matter of time before that pops up.

What did you take most from the books?

To Hannibal, psychopaths are banal, as they all have a reason for killing: a f*cked-up mum, a dad that hit them, whatever. For me, he’s the fallen angel: Satan on Earth, a man who sees beauty where the rest of us see horror. Or, at least, that’s what I based him on.

Did you do any medical research on serial killers?

I’m sad to say I know a lot about serial killers. But cannibalism is different. Cannibals think the only way to possess someone, to truly love someone, is to consume them, even though Hannibal tends to eat rude people.

If you could eat an historical figure, who would it be?

I can’t think of one [laughs]. I’ll stick to animals for now.

The ‘food’ looks alarmingly tasty. Is it?

We have a food stylist who creates two versions of each dish – one pasta and one meat-based. I should add that neither is human flesh. The meat dish is delicious. I’ve been known to drag out a dinner scene because it’s so fantastic.

The show is fairly macabre. How do you take your mind off it off-set?

In Toronto – where we film – there’s nice local lager and, of course, there’s a big love of hockey, so I’ll go to the pubs and have a few pints while watching a game. It takes the edge off.

Your brother, Lars, is playing a villain in the new series of Sherlock. Has he spoken to you about it?

Yes, though I can’t say too much apart from that it is sure to be one of the more dramatic episodes. I’ve only seen a few episodes of Sherlock, but what strikes me is its uniqueness – it’s almost David Lynch-like, only British.

Who’s the snappier dresser – Hannibal or Sherlock?

Sherlock forgets about himself when focusing on a case, which doesn’t happen with Hannibal. His three-piece suits are almost as important as his work.

Nicolas Winding Refn has talked about doing a Valhalla Rising sequel set in modern Tokyo. Are you game?

I read it in the newspaper, then Nicolas texted me to say something similar. But whatever the setting, I’m most excited about working with him for the fifth time. He’s a brilliant filmmaker.

How do you think he’ll respond to criticism that his latest film, Only God Forgives, doesn’t have enough dialogue?

Some films are made for talking, others are not. If it’s just about giving a whole load of sh*t information to an audience, I would rather deliver that information in a different way. Nicolas shares that attitude too.

He shared a flat with Ryan Gosling during filming. Would you flatshare with Winding Refn?

We have nothing in common. He only talks about films, I talk about sports. Imagine – him reading a book on directors, me on the other side of the room watching NBA. It wouldn’t work.

You’re in The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman, opposite Shia LeBeouf. Is it true that Shia dropped acid for one scene?

That was the rumour. He was doing his method thing. But it was a pleasure to work with the Wee Man, as I call him.

The ‘Wee Man’?

Yes, I tend to do it with some actors who are smaller than me. It makes me feel bigger. I also call Sam Worthington the Wee Man. He doesn’t like it much [laughs].

Hannibal: Season 1 is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 2 September

(Image: Allstar/BSkyB)

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