“Hannibal,” the television adaptation of Thomas Harris‘ world of cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, was a critical darling from the very start. Running three seasons from its debut in 2013, the body-horror filled crime drama found a huge fanbase and quickly became known for terrifying set-piece killings, gritty crime mysteries, and most importantly, the intensely hot homo-erotic overtones in scenes shared between its primary protagonists.
Spoiler warning for the show’s finale ahead.
Haunted empath Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and hiding-in-plain-sight murderous psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) share an on-screen relationship that is both sinister and gripping. Graham struggles with his existence, flirts with madness, and desperately seeks to do the good thing. He is constantly supported and assisted by the very man he is hunting, the effortlessly calm and grounded Dr. Lecter.
Sure, there are other fantastic performances to be found in the show, like Lawrence Fishburne‘s turn as FBI hard-case Jack Crawford. Or a baby-faced Michael Pitt and his wonderful display of madness as the hateful and repulsive classic Thomas Harris villain Mason Verge. But it is the connection between Lecter and Graham that kept fans coming back. Their tense relationship is a huge part of why the cult following of the show, now cancelled 6 years, remains so strong.
It seems that behind the cameras, the relationship between these characters was just as tense and intimate as fans interpreted. In a recent interview with Vulture, Mikkelsen spoke candidly about the intensity of the bond these characters share, and how it almost went even further on screen.
Mikkelsen says in the interview that he felt the relationship between the characters, while not necessarily physical, was indeed a romance. But in the final moments of the show’s season 3 finale, as Lecter and Graham eliminate the notorious serial killer Francis Dolarhyde aka The Red Dragon together, the moment shared between the two was verging on becoming a kiss.
So intense was the scene, that Mikkelsen says the two actors even theorized trying out a kiss for a take.
“We actually did a couple of takes of the very last scene where we were looking at each other, and it was a little too obvious — it was almost a kiss. Me and Hugh were like, ‘Why not? We have a couple of takes. Let’s do one. It might be cool.”
Series creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller claimed that for the two to finally kiss would have been too obvious and too much. But Mikkelsen goes on to say that the relationship between the two is perhaps bigger and deeper than physical affection alone, the death of Dolerhyde acting as something of a consummation of their unique partnership.
Mikkelsen added that given the chance, he would love to return to the role of Hannibal Lecter. This would hopefully be a proper end to the series that, while critically acclaimed, began to lose viewership and ended prematurely at the finale of the third season.
The unique partnership between the pair was what kept so many fans eagerly coming back for more, and no one takes to the role of the modern Hannibal Lecter better than Mikkelsen.