Mikkelsen brings a visceral physicality to the role that's been missing until now. Part of that is because previous iterations have been behind bars from the word go: Fuller's Hannibal Lecter spends two seasons on the loose before the authorities come after him, killing according to his own idiosyncratic design.
Mikkelsen introduces the idea of Hannibal as epicure, as dandy, and as lightning fast predator. Everything about Hannibal screams elegance, and those occasions when he explodes into violence are no less graceful and adroit than his dinner parties and his impeccable wardrobe, all quick, controlled, powerful movements, economical and poised. That's Mikkelsen's background as a dancer and gymnast coming into play, a craft he spent almost a decade practicing professionally, before transitioning to acting at the age of thirty.
The already legendary fight scene between Lecter and Lawrence Fishburne's FBI boss, Jack Crawford, in season two is something we've never seen from a Hannibal Lecter before, as is the bloody, grim confrontation between all the parties at that season's climax. Mikkelsen introduces us to a Hannibal Lecter who moves like a striking snake, someone physically formidable and not to be taken lightly.