Richard Armitage Transforms Into ‘The Great Red Dragon’ For ‘Hannibal’ — It’s Visually Stunning

Richard Armitage transformed into “The Great Red Dragon” in Saturday night’s episode of Hannibal, and it was visually stunning.

What viewers saw on their television sets last night is unlike anything we have seen before and showed why Armitage is considered one of Britain’s jewels. The 43-year-old certainly lived up to the expectations and then some.

If you follow Richard Armitage on Twitter, your timeline was probably all about his much awaited debut in the horror series, Hannibal, where showrunner Bryan Fuller and executive producer Martha De Laurentiis have taken the cannibal’s crimes to a whole different cinematic level. The bad news is that NBC has inexplicably cancelled this outstanding show. The good news is that Armitage has just started his performance.

Richard Armitage as The Red Dragon in Hannibal

Still relatively unknown, if only by name, we have seen Richard Armitage in movie theaters — when he played Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit Trilogy — one of his first major roles — and in several television productions, including multiple period dramas. He has delivered, every single time.

His fans know the incredible range the quiet star can bring to any character he undertakes, and the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde — created by author Thomas Harris in his Red Dragon novel — is no different. However, this role is unlike anything Richard Armitage has done before, and he was very careful when he accepted Fuller’s offer to play The Great Red Dragon or The Tooth Fairy, as Dolarhyde is dubbed.

Armitage made clear he would not have played the disturbed character if he had to commit the horrendous murders Dolarhyde is accused with. Much like Harris’ novels, we see the aftermath of his crimes, but not how they happen and only the mind of retired cop Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) show how things may have developed.

Richard Armitage as The Great Red Dragon

The British actor also had a very difficult job of portraying a mass murderer while making Dolarhyde a sympathetic individual, which Harris manages to do in the novel, while not condoning the brutal murders. Not an easy task, especially after watching the scene Will walks into at one of the crime scenes.

What is even more outstanding about Richard Armitage’s transformation into “The Great Red Dragon” is that he did not utter one single word, and we could already feel the power of Dolarhyde’s complex persona. We saw Armitage doing extremely difficult yoga exercises — Harris describes Francis as a bodybuilder — which we can only attribute to long hours of intense physical training and a strict diet, showing us why the Brit is known for his dedication to portraying a character as accurately as possible.

Fuller and De Laurentiis have promised that we can expect to be even more amazed with how Richard Armitage transforms into “The Great Red Dragon” in the upcoming episodes of Hannibal. Watch Season 3 Saturdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

[Image via De Laurentiis Co.]