NBC Universal Media
When NBC released the gag reel from Hannibal‘s first breathtaking season, we were relieved to see the ensemble — especially Hugh Dancy, turning in a deeply unsettling performance as a profiler losing his grip on reality — laughing and goofing around. So, let’s just say we’re eager to get our hands on some behind-the-scenes footage of Michael Pitt putting in the hours as Mason Verger, a sadistic creep the likes of which Hannibal and Hannibal have never seen before.
It’s almost impossible to picture Pitt, an actor with zero self-consciousness and 100 percent commitment, chuckling with his castmates or dropping four-letter-words after a failed take. He’s a former teen idol, having romanced Michelle Williams back in the day on Dawson’s Creek. He’s a muscian with his own band. He’s even been the face of Prada. But something about Pitt wholly defies the Hollywood scene as we know it. He disappears completely into roles — from ill-fated Jimmy on Boardwalk to Hedwig’s lover in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to a preppy psychopath in Funny Games — and from the public eye in between them.
And all these qualities made him the perfect choice to embody Mason, a character adapted for the series from the Thomas Harris source material. Hannibal has gotten away with some of the most terrifyingly beautiful fever dreams ever shown on network TV, and Pitt melded flawlessly into that world. Verger is just as twisted as the show’s namesake, but in a way that Hannibal finds “rude.” And we know what he does to those he finds… uncouth. From his first appearance — wild-haired and clutched a piglet in a blanket — to his last — high on psychotics, feeding pieces of his own face to Will’s beloved rescue dogs, Pitt was captivating and unnerving. Just what the doctor ordered.