Laurence Fishburne, who plays Jack Crawford, and Gina Torres, who plays Crawford's wife Bella, were married to each other in real life. They have since separated.
Hugh Dancy actually recommended Mads Mikkelsen for the role of Hannibal Lecter, as the two actors had become friends during filming of King Arthur (2004).
Mads Mikkelsen did all of his own cooking on screen, including the egg trick. He was trained by the show's food stylist, Janice Poon.
David Tennant auditioned for the lead role of Hannibal (2013). Producer Bryan Fuller was so impressed with his audition, he told a magazine that even though he didn't get the role, he wanted to write Tennant a a guest role as a deranged serial killer.
In the series Hugh Dancy plays Will Graham opposite Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal Lecter. In the film King Arthur (2004), almost ten years before Hannibal, Dancy's character says: "I don't kill for pleasure. Unlike some." Mads responds with: "Well, you should try it someday. You might get a taste for it."
This series borrows character and stories quite liberally from Thomas Harris' novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal rising, but surprisingly, not from The Silence of the Lambs, even though it was from that film that most people became familiar with Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. This is because that film was the only one in the series not produced by Dino De Laurentiis, and thus the producers of this series do not have the rights to it. Whether or not they have, or intend to use, the rights to Clarice Starling is unknown at this point.
Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) screen tested for the role of Hannibal in Hannibal Rising (2007).
The role of Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier was originally written as a much older woman with Angela Lansbury in mind. When Lansbury could not accept the role due to conflicts with the Australian production of "Driving Miss Daisy", the role was rewritten for a younger actress and Gillian Anderson was cast.
Gillian Anderson, who plays Bedelia Du Maurier, was in talks to play the role of Clarice Starling in the film Hannibal (2001). In fact, Anderson has admitted that her characterization of Dana Scully on The X-Files (1993) was largely inspired by Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will (Hugh Dancy) sometimes discuss Hannibal's use of a method for mentally storing information called a "memory palace." This is not an invention of either the show's writers or of Thomas Harris, who mentions Lecter using a memory palace in his books about the killer; rather, it is a method of aiding memory that dates back to ancient Rome. One of history's most famous real-life practitioners was the sixteenth-century Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, who introduced the method to China. See also the trivia section for Sherlock (2010).
There is a common misconception that every episode in the series is the name of a different meal course. In actuality, the names are merely related to the culinary arts, with each season having an ethnic association. Season 01 uses French names. Episode 01, Hannibal: Apéritif (2013), is the name of a special cocktail to be consumed prior to a meal, whereas other episodes like 04 is Hannibal: Oeuf (2013), which translates to "egg." Season 02 starts with episode 01, Hannibal: Kaiseki (2014). This is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. Each episode name from 02-13 are named after different courses of a Kaiseki meal. Season 03 uses Italian words, such as Episode 01 which is Hannibal: Antipasto (2015), the name of the first course in a formal Italian meal, whereas Episode 02 is labeled Hannibal: Primavera (2015). Primavera is not a meal, it is in fact a cooking style that translates to "spring."
Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was written as an unattractive, shabbily dressed, middle-aged male tabloid print journalist in the original novel (and this version was used in the previous film adaptations). The TV series changed the role to Fredricka "Freddie" Lounds, a young, beautiful, fashionable, female Internet blogger.
Bryan Fuller considered Lee Pace, who was the lead in Fuller's Pushing Daisies (2007), for the part of Will Graham.
In the first episode, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) says "Don't psychoanalyze me, you wouldn't like me when I'm psychoanalyzed.", a reference to the comic book character, The Incredible Hulk, and his famous "Don't make me angry..." line. The Hulk was portrayed in The Incredible Hulk (2008) by Edward Norton, the same actor who played Will Graham in Red Dragon (2002).
The colour Red is in almost, if not all, scenes of the show. Sometimes extremely obvious, other times subtle and may be either darker or lighter in tone.
Bryan Fuller said that the relationship between Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will (Hugh Dancy) isn't just friendship, but more than that. He even went that far to confirm the common pairing "Hannigram".
Mads Mikkelsen has actually portrayed a character with the exact same tendencies as Hannibal Lector before - in the movie The Green Butchers (2003).
This series exists in the same fictional universe as other Bryan Fuller series Wonderfalls (2004), Pushing Daisies (2007) and Mockingbird Lane (2012). The character Gretchen Speck (Chelan Simmons) from episode 1.2, Hannibal: Amuse-Bouche (2013), also appears in two episodes of "Wonderfalls". Also in "Wonderfalls" is the character Marianne Marie Beatle, who appears in an episode of "Pushing Daisies" and in "Mockingbird Lane".
The name of the character played by Ellen Muth in this series, Georgia Madchen, is a reference to the character that Muth played in one of Bryan Fuller's previous series, Dead Like Me (2003): Georgia Lass. The German word "Mädchen" means "girl" or "lass." Fuller also reused the last name "Lass" for Anna Chlumsky's character, Miriam Lass.
Cynthia Nixon's character, Kade Prurnell, is an anagram of Paul Krendler. Krendler is the male character from the Lecter books on whom her character is based (played by Ray Liotta in Hannibal (2001)). Lecter also liked using anagrams throughout the books and films.
Hannibal, played by Mads Mikkelsen, and Will (Hugh Dancy) discuss the use of a "memory palace" as a way to store information. This was also a method employed by Charles Augustus Mugnussen in the Sherlock (2010) episode Sherlock: His Last Vow (2014) (episode 3.3). The character of Magnussen was played by Lars Mikkelsen, who is the older brother of Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Hannibal.
One of the Chesapeake Ripper's victims is sliced into sections vertically, and put on display between sheets of glass. This was mostly likely inspired by British visual artist Damien Hirst, whose 1996 work, "Some Comfort Gained from the Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in Everything," did this with an actual cow.
Several actors from another Bryan Fuller works have appeared on the show. Ellen Muth (from Dead Like Me (2003)), Caroline Dhavernas and Chelan Simmons (from Wonderfalls (2004)), Ellen Greene, Gina Torres , Raúl Esparza, and Molly Shannon. (from Pushing Daisies (2007)), Zachary Quinto (from Heroes (2006), where Fuller wrote for 3 seasons), Eddie Izzard (from the failed pilot Mockingbird Lane (2012)), Jonathan Tucker and Chris Diamantopoulos (from the failed SyFy pilot High Moon (2014)) or Katharine Isabelle (from the Carrie (2002) TV-Movie Fuller wrote in 2002).
Lee Pace turned down a guest appearance in the first season, due to his commitments with a Broadway play.
In "Red Dragon", the character Chilton mentions that "Blood and Chocolate" should have been the subtitle of his book. This is a reference to the movie Blood and Chocolate (2007), in which Hugh Dancy starred.
Laurence Fishburne uses a prop soul patch for the duration of the series as he couldn't grow his own.
At 6', Mads Mikkelsen is the tallest actor to play Hannibal Lecter. Brian Cox (in Manhunter (1986)) is 5'8", Anthony Hopkins (in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Red Dragon (2002), and again in Hannibal (2001)) is 5'9", and Gaspard Ulliel (in Hannibal Rising (2007)) is 5'11".
Mark O'Brien plays the character of Randall Tier. Tier translates to 'animal' in German.
On the 22nd June 2015, NBC cancelled Hannibal due to a decline in ratings but allowed the drama to finish the third season.
Ellen Muth who played Georgia Lass in Dead Like Me (2003), plays Georgia Madchen. Apart from having the same first name and a last name with the same meaning, both are young women who are still walking around even though they believe they died years before, both help people pass on into the next life (though in different ways), and both physically see people differently than others do. It is one step removed from a crossover.
The building shown as Castle Lecter in Lithuania during season three, is in fact in Belgium. Chateau de Noisy, originally named Chateau Miranda, was completed in 1866.
Laurence Fishburne previously appeared in Apocalypse Now (1979) with Scott Glenn, who played Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The lead role in that film was originally given to Harvey Keitel, who played Crawford in Red Dragon (2002). Fishburne also appeared on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000), after the departure of William Petersen, who played Will Graham in Manhunter (1986).
Lance Henriksen - lead actor in the TV Series Millennium (1996), to which "Hannibal" is a spiritual successor - guest stars in Hannibal: Trou Normand (2013) (Episode #1.9). He ends the scene double-tapping his chair, with a sound effect lifted from the Millennium opening theme.
Laurence Fishburne (Jack Crawford) was married to Gina Torres, who played his on-screen wife, Bella, in the series. They have one daughter together - Delilah Fishburne (b. June 2007). The couple separated in 2016, and Fishburne filed for divorce the following year.
Actress Nina Arianda was cast as Molly. The actress has already acted alongside Hugh Dancy in a Broadway show, Venus in Fur, and alongside Michael Pitt (who played Mason Verger for a while but was replaced later) in the movie Rob the Mob (2014).
Anthony Hopkins is referenced several times throughout the series. For example, when they speak of a man named Anthony Lamb, and when Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) speaks of a university named Hopkins.
Will's (Hugh Dancy) line "Don't psychoanalyze me. You won't like me when I'm psychoanalyzed," could be a reference to another Edward Norton (who played Will Graham in the 2002 movie Red Dragon (2002)) role as the Hulk in the film, The Incredible Hulk (2008).
The role of Mason Verger was played by Michael Pitt in season 2. Pitt was unavailable to reprise the role in season 3, so was replaced by Joe Anderson.
Eddie Izzard is British and mostly manages to cover his accent, though it does slip a bit on occasion.
Alana, played by Caroline Dhavernas, helps Will (Hugh Dancy) through hearing imaginary animals. And for those familiar with Bryan Fuller's plans for later seasons of Wonderfalls (2004), someone is wrongly institutionalised by their psychiatrist.
Chris Brancato, who co-wrote some episodes of the show, wrote the movie Hoodlum (1997), that also stars Laurence Fishburne.
Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy also starred together in King Arthur (2004). They portrayed Tristan and Galahad, respectively.
Laurence Fishburne plays the head of a government agency and it isn't the first time he has had to deal with a main character who flip-flops between being embraced and hunted down by said agency.
The series is based on characters that appear in Thomas Harris' novels "Red Dragon" and "Hannibal".