One of the best things about NBC’s “Hannibal” is Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as the show’s titular character. His portrayal of the infamous Dr. Lecter is unique in that his cannibalistic obsession manifests itself in such a way that his character comes off as a master chef, not some human-craving barbarian.
Prior to shooting for season 3, Business Insider spoke with the show’s food stylist, Janice Poon, to find out just how hands-on the actor truly is on set. Poon tells us Mikkelsen does all his own food stunts.
“That was really him chopping ingredients,” Poon tells Business Insider. “He [Mikkelsen] came up to my studio for some culinary training because he is a master of all things, he can do everything better than anybody. He’s a quick study; he’s just very dexterous and aware of physicality and using different instruments.”
Poon says there was one moment on set when Hannibal was tasked with pulling off an impressive food trick akin to something you’d see at a Benihana restaurant.
“There’s this Benihana egg trick that the writers tried to put it in once before and we got around it because it could be a mess. The idea is you throw an egg up in the air, you put your spatula out and it breaks on the spatula and you twist the spatula just slightly and the egg falls down on the griddle. They do this at Benihana, you know the Japanese chefs with their little tricks, and I’ve seen them screw it up. They have a whole big grill to hit, and here we just had this little pan for Mads to hit. The first time we thought ‘we’re not cleaning this up,’ because every take, if you break an egg, we have to clear the set, clean it up, etc. The set-dresser comes in just cursing the props person for ever allowing this stupid stunt, and we clean up and go again … so we decide we’re not going to have that, we’ll just have peeled potatoes.
Poon says, despite the difficulty, the writers were intent on making the scene happen.
“They put it in again six episodes later. That script came through at about 6 o’clock at night and was to be shot in the morning. So, the prop master says to me ‘Do you think you can do it?” and I said I can do it one time out of three … I’ve seen a Benihana chef screw this up. We’re all tired, and I don’t want to imagine broken eggs all over the set.”
“So I called my Japanese food guy and asked for a Benihana chef to bring in for a potential hand double. The next morning, there were two Japanese guys, me, six dozen eggs, and Mads wanders on to the set and asks ‘Ok, What are we doing?’ … I tell him we’re doing the Benihana egg trick today, but don’t worry because we have these chefs from the Sushi shop, and we’re gonna handle it. So Mads asks what he has to do, and I tell him – you throw the egg up in the air, you stick the spatula out, it breaks slightly, you twist your wrist, then the egg falls down into the pan. He says, OK, let me try it….he goes on set, and he actually did it. I accused him of practicing, but that’s when he told me he used to be a juggler.”
Poon says she and the crew were stunned to learn how effortless the move was for Mikkelsen.
“I can’t believe I worried so much thinking about how we could make it work,” says Poon. “He never tried it again until they shot it, and boom he did it, and we all were slack-jawed and happy to move on to the next thing.”
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