Meet Red Dragon In ‘Hannibal’ Season 3 — Richard Armitage Talks Francis Dolarhyde

When Hannibal returns to NBC for season 3, we will meet a new, terrifying character — Francis Dolarhyde, a.k.a Red Dragon, portrayed by British actor Richard Armitage (The Hobbit Trilogy, Into the Storm).

For Armitage — who is universally admired for his work ethic and dedication to portraying his characters as faithfully as he possibly can — delving into a psycho serial killer was no easy feat. However, it seems he went above and beyond, and showrunner Bryan Fuller confessed he has been moved to tears watching his performance.

If you’re excited to watch the Red Dragon in Hannibal next week, you’re not alone. Fuller and company have certainly done everything in their power to keep viewers glued to the show, which is fast becoming one of the best television has to offer.

As with any serial killer, Red Dragon is not easy to play, as the character is full of contradictions and audiences could even feel sympathy towards the conflicting emotions he experiences, while murdering at random. Richard Armitage has a lot to say about Francis Dolarhyde, in a detailed interview with Fangoria.

“It’s probably going to take me about 4 or 5 hours to talk about the character. One of the things I love about this character is the detail with which (author) Thomas Harris treats him in RED DRAGON, which has become a real bible for every day on set here. I think the main thing that fascinated me with the writing that Thomas did and what Bryan Fuller has done is that it’s figuring out the crimes of a psychopath, and then giving the character such an interesting, rich history with which to find a very winding, tormented path to that destination.”

Red Dragon is a very physical character, which Armitage wasn’t quite expecting, and considering he had very limited time to train for it, he did a very convincing job.

“I had 10 days to read the novel and completely change my body shape to become like the bodybuilder that Thomas Harris describes. Yeah, I did quite a bit of training, but 10 days is just not enough time. In the book, he’s described as a bodybuilder, so I took his military history, I took my own physique, and I took the psychology of someone that wasn’t happy with themselves and was trying to become better. We put him somewhere in the middle of that.”

Armitage confessed he watched Tom Noonan play the role in Manhunter — when he was an impressionable 14-years-old — but didn’t go back purposely in order to start with a clean slate and create his own “iconography.” A photo making its rounds online, shows the incredible artwork they created for the tattoo Red Dragon wears on Hannibal, which is unique to Richard.

Richard Armitage Red Dragon
Richard Armitage as Red Dragon in Hannibal (NBC)

The British thespian, who has hoards of fans all over the world, has impressed Bryan Fuller so much, that he was brought to tears watching his scenes as Red Dragon, according to an interview from Den of Geek.

“Oh! I can’t speak highly enough about the man as a professional and how he has brought this character to life in such a unique way.

“I’m currently looking at episodes with Richard’s work and there is one in particular where both the editor and I were crying in the edit room because he communicated so eloquently the pain of Francis Dolarhyde and the torture of his existence.”

According to Richard Armitage, Fuller gave him a lot of leeway to do what he wanted to create his own Red Dragon for Hannibal Season 3.

“I’ve been afforded a great deal of voice (on Hannibal). It’s been a very democratic forum, so every idea that I’ve had and every thought I’ve had about the character has been embraced by the writers, the costume designers, the set designers, the stunt coordinator, and the director.”

Watch Richard Armitage star as the Red Dragon in Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Gillian Anderson (Bedelia du Maurier), and Hugh Dancy (Will Graham). Season 3 premieres June 4 on NBC.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]