Cannibalism & Cable TV: Hannibal Lecter’s return to public life

The last we saw of Hannibal Lecter, he was disappointing critics and audiences in 2006’s “Hannibal Rising.” Managers of the brand would be excited to get past that unfortunate stage, which just might happen now that NBC has ordered 13 episodes of Bryan Fuller’s “Hannibal,” a show that will supposedly explore Lecter’s nascent mentoring relationship with FBI agent Will Graham, the original protagonist of the “Hannibal” franchise. “Pushing Daisies” creator Bryan Fuller wrote the “Hannibal” pilot script and he will executive produce the series. Fuller has also created “Wonderfalls” and “Dead Like Me” in addition to writing for “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Heroes”. Fuller announced his involvement with “Hannibal” last September, before getting serious interest from NBC in November.

But the real question remaining, who should be cast to play the iconic cannibal? I came up with a list of three actors who I would like to see in the role.

1. Michael Caine

Michael Caine (The Dark Knight, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Jaws: The Revenge) Born Maurice Micklewhite in London, Michael Caine was the son of a fish-market porter and a charlady. He left school at 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army. Upon his return to England he gravitated toward the theater and got a job as an assistant stage manager. In the years that followed he worked in more than 100 television dramas, with repertory companies throughout England and other parts of the United Kingdom. He epitomized the new breed of actor in mid-’60s England. However, after initially starring in some excellent films, particularly in the 1960s, including Gambit (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), Play Dirty (1969), Battle of Britain (1969), Too Late the Hero (1970), The Last Valley (1971) and especially Get Carter (1971), he seemed to take on roles in below-average films, simply for the money he could by then command. In my personal opinion Caine could own the Hannibal role with his hands tied behind his back. I’ve seen him play any type of character you can imagine and make it more believable than the real thing. Every time.

2. Ted Levine

Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs, Joy Ride, The Hills Have Eyes) Born in Bellaire, Ohio, in May, 1957, he was among the last graduating class of the Windsor Mountain School in Lennox, Massachusetts. He Attended Marlboro College in Vermont and performed in summer stock regional theatres in Vermont, Michigan and West Virginia before settling in Chicago, Illinois. Levine worked on stage at Remains, Wisdom Bridge, and The Goodman and Steppenwolf theaters throughout the 1980s before he began working in television and film. Buffalo motherfuckin’ Bill. Do I need to say more? Obviously, this is probably a long shot since he had a few problems getting work after Silence of the Lambs but in any case this is another actor who I am confident could give us a Hannibal we can be proud of.

3. Bryan Cranston


Bryan Cranston
(Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle). Bryan Lee Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, writer and director. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Walter White in the AMC drama series Breaking Bad, for which he has won three consecutive “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy” Awards, and as Hal, the father in the Fox situation comedy Malcolm in the Middle. Obviously, this guy has the various seasons of Breaking Bad under his belt to understand the process of becoming a dark and developed character. He would have to work on the accent, gain about 30 pounds and develop a slight hunch in his walk but that’s just the physical aspect. Given enough time and research on Hannibal Lecter and I’m confident that Cranston could give us something worthwhile.