Richard Armitage Wows Audiences In ‘Hannibal’ Finale, The ‘Red Dragon’ Goes Out With A Bang

Richard Armitage wowed audiences during Saturday night’s Hannibal finale where his character, The Red Dragon, went out with a bang.

Most film connoisseurs know Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter), Hugh Dancy (Will Graham), and the rest of the talented cast can act and then some, but many didn’t even know who Richard Armitage was before he starred as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde. In his twisted mind, the crazed man thought he was the mythical Red Dragon he had seen in a painting, but the media knew him as The Tooth Fairy, and it didn’t make Francis happy.

Throughout Season 3 of Hannibal, Richard Armitage proved that showrunner Bryan Fuller made the right choice when he cast him as Dolarhyde. According to the 44-year-old British actor, he had the liberty of making the character his own, and boy, did he go above and beyond.

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde
Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde (De Laurentiis Co.)

Regardless of the inevitable ending to his run on the cancelled NBC show’s finale, viewers were entranced by the transformation they saw before their eyes during the second half of Hannibal. Armitage not only wowed audiences on Saturday night, but seemed to be the focus of much discussion any time he was on-screen, because he was usually doing things we don’t see on TV every day.

When we first met Francis — the character based on Thomas Harris’ novel, Red Dragon — he was almost benign, and Richard Armitage did a masterful job making us feel sorry for him instead of hating Dolarhyde for slaughtering entire families by acting out delusional fantasies.

Then he meets blind co-worker, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley), and their budding relationship in turn makes audiences feel even more compelled towards liking The Red Dragon. For the first few episodes, Richard Armitage managed to almost convince that, perhaps, he could be reformed by what he felt for Reba. However, when he reminds himself he is meant to be the brutal serial killer, Dolarhyde shows his true, terrifying colors.

Richard Armitage in 'Hannibal' (De Laurentiis Co.)

It was heartbreaking to see Francis turn from the almost loving partner to Reba, to someone who terrorized her and used her for his nefarious scheme. Wesley is equally brilliant in the finale, and we feel really sorry for her predicament. Falling in love with “D” was a bad idea.

Following the Twitter feed on Saturday nights was always interesting, especially when Fuller or executive producer Martha De Laurentiis shared some interesting insight. We heard how Richard Armitage was instructed to move in that last, heartbreaking scene and he delivered, and then some.

This was a multifaceted and physically demanding role for Richard Armitage. He didn’t just have to play one character, but two, and we saw the incredible transformation, especially in the latter episodes, when The Red Dragon fully manifested itself. One of the things that Armitage was able to master was the lisp, for which he studied videos of real people with cleft palates extensively and even came up with plastic piece for his mouth to make it more realistic. Who does that?

If you didn’t know Richard Armitage before he starred in Hannibal, you certainly know who he is now. What did you think of the series finale?

[Image via De Laurentiis / Far Far Away Site]