Mads Mikkelsen is making the press rounds in support of Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round,” which represents Denmark in the 2021 Oscar race, but “Hannibal” is always a topic of conversation for the 55-year-old actor. Netflix began streaming all three seasons of Bryan Fuller’s cult-classic serial-killer drama this summer, further boosting the series’ popularity and reigniting buzz over Fuller and his cast’s desire to make a fourth season. Mikkelsen told IndieWire this week that his wish list for “Hannibal” Season 4 includes bringing “Silence of the Lambs” serial killer Buffalo Bill into the narrative.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that if it does happen, we would love to go into ‘Silence of the Lambs,'” Mikkelsen said. “That’s always been an issue because they didn’t have the rights for that book. But that’s obviously the most famous part and we’d love to go in there. We’d obviously switch it around a little and do all kinds of crazy stuff with it. That story is so interesting and the characters in it are as interesting. We’d switch around the genders and maybe even put two characters into one. We would love to find someone to play Buffalo Bill. That’s going to be tough. We found a Hannibal, so it’s possible.”
Mikkelsen shared praise for Ted Levine’s performance as Buffalo Bill in Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs” ( “he was amazing, that actor”), but he already has a surprising casting choice in mind for the “Hannibal” iteration of the character: “We already used Michael Pitt for Mason and that was fantastic. If he wasn’t playing Mason I’d love to see him as Buffalo Bill.”
“Boardwalk Empire” and “Funny Games” actor Michael Pitt debuted on “Hannibal” in Season 2 as Mason Verger, the abusive twin brother of Hannibal’s patient Margot Verger. Pitt left the role after a season and was replaced by Joe Anderson in the series’ third and final season (at least for now). Pitt and Mikkelsen had crackling chemistry as their sociopathic characters faced off, so it’s safe to assume “Hannibal” fans would welcome Pitt back as Buffalo Bill if Mikkelsen’s wish came true.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that a potential “Hannibal” Season 4 can use Thomas Harris’ “Silence of the Lambs” book. MGM’s rights to the novel ended in August 2017, which is why Fuller told fans he was waiting until then to resume talks about new “Hannibal” episodes as his plan for Season 4 was to incorporate “Silence” FBI agent Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster in Demme’s film). Fuller confirmed on Twitter earlier this year MGM passed on giving his team the rights to “Silence,” opting instead to team with CBS for a new broadcast prequel series centered around Clarice.
“[We] tried many times to work with MGM to include Clarice into our Hannibal story,” Fuller tweeted. “They ultimately told us they had their own plans for Clarice and they didn’t need Hannibal to tell her story. Don’t think this impacts a potential ‘Hannibal’ Season 4 as we never had Clarice rights.”
As Fuller noted, plans for “Hannibal” Season 4 aimed to include Clarice and “Silence of the Lambs” but never hinged on their involvement as it wasn’t a certainty that Fuller’s team could get the rights to “Silence of the Lambs.” Should “Hannibal” continue, Mikkelsen told IndieWire his co-stars Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne would have to return along with him.
“The show is becoming bigger and bigger,” Mikkelsen said. “The greater the breaks between seasons, the more people become followers. They do tend to watch a lot of my Danish stuff, which is heartwarming.”
Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.