Richard Armitage To Debut As The Red Dragon In ‘Hannibal’

The much-awaited debut of Richard Armitage as the Red Dragon in the cancelled NBC series Hannibal is upon us, and for fans, it can’t come soon enough.

Armitage is still relatively unknown in the U.S., but those who follow his career closely are used to seeing him make women swoon in period dramas. In later years, the handsome Brit has expanded his career by taking on the classic character Thorin Oakenshield — the leader of the dwarves — in The Hobbit trilogy, as well as taking to London’s stage again in the adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible earlier this year.

We are talking about a multi-faceted actor here, one who began in theater like most of his British brothers in this field. Richard Armitage will take on the troubled serial killer the Red Dragon, or the Tooth Fairy, as Francis Dolarhyde is known.

This is by far the most haunted and challenging character Armitage has played in his career, not that he hasn’t enjoyed portraying the Red Dragon. As many of his peers, the 43-year-old enjoys playing the bad guy, and this particular character is so much more than a deranged murderer.

Richard Armitage in Hannibal
Richard Armitage in Hannibal (DiLaurentiis Company)

As the second part of Hannibal Season 3 comes to a TV near you, we find that Will (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) part ways after escaping certain death at the hands of Mason Verger (Joe Anderson). Three years later, Will must focus on another threat and asks for Dr. Lecter’s help in finding the serial killer, the Red Dragon (the Tooth Fairy).

Showrunner Bryan Fuller spoke about how Richard Armitage’s version of the Red Dragon will differ from other adaptations about the character.

“The version of Red Dragon that we are telling is very faithful to the literature with the exception of the relationship we’ve been building over the last two and a half seasons. Will and Hannibal’s relationship in the previous adaptations was nowhere near as wet and dark and sticky as what we’ve come to learn of the dynamic between the men in this version of the telling. So, to have Will and Hannibal truly possess a history together that informs their approach to the Red Dragon didn’t necessarily feel like an opportunity to change the story, but to provide many more layers of the tiramisu for the audience to enjoy.”

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde
Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde (DiLaurentiis Co.)

More interestingly, during the Hannibal panel, executive producer Martha De Laurentiis said that this particular version of the Red Dragon was shaped in great part by Richard Armitage himself and his vision of the killer. Armitage said he based the character on the 1981 Thomas Harris novel.

“I got a sense of a man who was very uncomfortable in his own skin and was trying to shed his own skin and was trying to become something more powerful and greater than he really was.

“I realized, in reading the book, that there were going to be some iconic moments that we would come back to and probably end in a very similar place to both those manifestations (earlier portrayals) of the character.”

You can watch Richard Armitage debut as the Red Dragon in Hannibal this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch a preview below.

[Image via Dino De Laurentiis Co.]