Hannibal Has An Incredible A-List Star Hiding In Plain Sight

Hannibal Has An Incredible A-List Star Hiding In Plain Sight
Image credit: Universal Pictures

This star hid his face and stole someone else's voice to play the worst man in the Lecterverse.


  • Ten years after The Silence of the Lambs, a sequel finally hit theatres.
  • Hannibal features one of the most loathsome characters in cinema history.
  • Beneath the prosthetics and whiney voice is one of Hollywood's greatest actors.
  • However, a dispute with the studio meant that this performer went uncredited.

In 1991, a new type of horror movie took the world by storm. The Silence of the Lambs depends on psychological terror above jump scares or gore, and star turns by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins meant that even long, conversational scenes make you want to pull the blankets up to your eyes

The Silence of the Lambs was nominated for seven Academy Awards and took home five, including Best Picture (the only horror movie to ever win that prestigious award) and Best Supporting Actor for Anthony Hopkins (who only had 16 minutes of screen time).

It was no surprise that Hollywood wanted to follow up that success, though the sequel was bogged down for ten years as the team waited for author Thomas Harris to finish the next book in his Hannibal Lecter series.

Finally the long-awaited sequel, Hannibal, hit theaters in 2001. Audiences were disappointed that Jodie Foster didn't reprise her role as FBI agent Clarise Starling, but they probably failed to notice that the movie had an equally talented and famous star appearing right under their noses.

The Man With No Eyelids

In the Lecterverse, there are a lot of disturbing characters… but Mason Verger is probably the worst. He was born into enormous wealth and privilege, which he uses to get away with as many sadistic acts as possible. This includes molesting and torturing children.

When we meet Mason Verger in Hannibal, he is paralyzed and horribly disfigured. Verger tells Clarice Starling (now played by Julianne Moore) that after being caught and tried for child molestation, his family's money got him out of any serious punishment. Instead of prison time, he had to do community service and court-mandated therapy… with Dr Hannibal Lecter.

Lector found Verger discourteous – the worst crime of all! – and fed him a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs. Then Lecter convinced Verger to cut off his own face, including his lips and eyelids, and feed it to his own dogs. To top it off, Lecter left Verger paralyzed from the neck down.

Hannibal Has An Incredible A-List Star Hiding In Plain Sight - image 1

The Man Under the Prosthetics

Millions of people saw Hannibal and had no idea who was beneath the heavy prosthetics of Mason Verger's face. The actor was never credited, so you might be shocked to find out that the unrecognizable performer is none other than Gary Oldman! That's right, the man who played Commissioner Gordon and Sirius Black is completely unrecognizable in Hannibal.

Even his voice doesn't give him away. Mason Verger's whiney, nasal voice was apparently 'stolen' from the author of the Hannibal Lecter books, Thomas Harris. Oldman later said that he heard Harris' voice and thought it would be perfect for the sadistic child rapist.

No word on how Thomas Harris feels about that.

Why Isn't He Credited?

When Gary Oldman was offered the role of Verger, the studio wanted him to do publicity work for the movie. That meant that his name was expected to draw in audiences. However, producers weren't willing to give him the billing or the paycheque to match that expectation.

Oldman briefly departed from the sequel, but he later came back on board with one condition: if he wasn't going to get billed or paid like a star, then they couldn't use him to sell the movie. He wanted to go completely uncredited.

It's a credit to his acting that it worked a little too well – even fans of Hannibal are totally shocked to find that Gary Oldman is the one playing the part.