When Fan Expo started announcing their guests for this year, I told my friends that the only celebrity I would be excited for was Mads Mikkelsen.
The weeks passed, more guests were announced, and I had entirely given up on seeing his name in my inbox until my mother sent me a text saying “MADS MIKKELSEN COMING TO FAN EXPO” on my lunch break at work. Of course I was basically dancing my way through the rest of my shift from sheer happiness, and of course I had my photo op within seconds of them going up online.
Now for the hard part: how do I make myself interesting and memorable to Hannibal Lector?
I had to bring him dinner.
I remembered reading Feeding Hannibal, Janice Poon’s art blog (the creator of all the amazing dishes for Hannibal) and how she created the ortolan birds from season two from marzipan. For those who don’t know, the cooking of eating of ortolans is an illegal practice and involves setting them on fire, drowning them in brandy, and then eating them whole. Hannibal and Will consume these birds together in season 2 episode 11, an unforgettable moment for both the cast and the audience. The amazing Sam Anderson of Cakes Cove created two replica birds for me from fondant rather than marzipan to give them a better taste and a much longer shelf life, and I cannot thank her enough for how fantastically accurate they turned out! For my part, I put together a domed dinner tray to present the birds in true Hannibal fashion.
My original plan was to have my photo op on Saturday and get an autograph on Sunday and give him the birds then. However, when I saw him at his booth on Friday, I knew I couldn’t wait that long. I purchased a second copy of my favourite Hannibal fan art from Artist Alley, as mine had worn out over time anyway, and met up with three other friends to get my autograph. When my turn came to meet Mads, I thought I was ready. I really did.
And then he shook my hand and the first words out of my mouth were “I may have an unhealthy obsession with your show.” To my great relief, Mads just laughed and replied, “That’s really the only kind of obsession to have with the show.”
As I stumbled over my words, trying to talk about the humour in Hannibal, the way he flawlessly delivers these lines at times where I would never have expected to laugh, Mads looked me right in the eye and listened to me before answering with how Bryan Fuller was really amazing at making those elements work. As he signed “eat the rude Mary” on my print, I told him about my favourite moments, and I was surprised again when he slid the print towards me, propped his elbows on the table, and leaned forward, giving me his full attention. In fact, he caught me so off guard that I forgot Bedelia’s name for a moment! Mads just nodded encouragingly, let me finish, and then gave his own thoughts on the scene before offering his hand again and saying “Thank you very much, Mary”. To my credit, I managed not to fangirl until after I left his presence, and even said thank you and I would see him tomorrow morning for a photo op.
After finding out how warm and approachable Mads was, I was nowhere near as nervous for the photo op the next morning. I was in line by 9:40 am, which seemed to be perfectly fine with everyone except for one Fan Expo crew member. However, the woman working at the booth just grinned when she saw me and said “first in line?” When I told her I wanted to make the Mads Mikkelsen Q and A right after the photo, she was more than happy to let my friend and I stay far earlier than when was technically allowed. When 11:15 came around, the VIP line moved very quickly, and I was next in line within ten minutes. I put my backpack down and was waiting with the tray in my hands and looking ready to serve dinner when it was my turn.
When Mads turned to greet me, he was immediately distracted by the tray and I had barely taken a step forward before he closed the distance between us and said, “Oh, what do you have for me?” His excitement was infectious and I held out the tray without a word, letting him take the lid off with a flourish. I will never forget the look on his face when he saw the ortolans laid out, the way he said “Oh my god” under his breath, almost to himself, the way he moved to take a closer look before the photographer started counting down and reminded him that we were here for a reason.
“Come over here,” he said, putting an arm around me to guide me in front of the camera.
We presented dinner together in the photo, and as I moved to say thank you and leave when the Fan Expo crew called the next person, Mads took a step towards me and asked where I got the birds. I told him about Cakes Cove and that they were at the con this weekend, and as the crew called again for me to keep it moving he followed me halfway to the table where my backpack waited and asked, “what were the birds called again? I can’t remember.” I answered that they were ortolans, that I followed Janice Poon’s art blog, and that was where I found the reference photos. I walked out of that photo op so incredibly happy that I had not only succeeded in being interesting and memorable, but that Mads had wanted to keep talking despite the line of people waiting!
Of course I had to fully bankrupt myself and go and see Mads again on Sunday to both give him the ortolans and get my photo signed. Right before it was my turn, Mads glanced up from signing and caught me watching him, but he just smiled and went back to talking to the person ahead of me. I like to think he recognized me, but it’s much more likely that he was amused by my Harley Quinn makeup! When he said hello to me, I slid the birds across the table to him and he immediately picked them up to take a closer look. I told him I wanted to come by so that he could see them properly because the photo ops are always so rushed, and that I wanted him to have them. While he signed I said they’re edible but that they were more for display or memorabilia than for eating. He paused from signing for a moment and went to ask what they were made of and I replied that they weren’t made of marzipan, which surprised him. “Oh really? What are they made from?” he asked, to which I answered that they were made of fondant to last a long time as long as they’re kept away from heat. Mads smiled and said that he would put them in the fridge. As he finished signing my photo, I told him that I had already been here on Friday and that were had talked a bit about humour in Hannibal, to which he replied that he remembered, but that there was something I did want to ask him.
Once again he gave me his full attention, but by now I was much more comfortable with talking to him. “If you had the chance to kill Alana in the show,” I said, “How would you do it?”
“Slowly,” he replied immediately. “I would make her suffer. Like she made Hannibal suffer in prison.” I grinned and said if I was Hannibal, I would tell her she had to suffer the same indignities that I did, to which he added, “Starting with her dresses.”
For a moment I expected him to say something else, but Mads seemed to be expecting the same from me, and for a moment we were both silent. The funny part is, even though he just had this amused little smile while I tried to find my words again, the silence between us actually felt comfortable. Like it was okay for me to just appreciate him for a second and not make a fool of myself while doing it. Anyway, the moment passed and this time it was me that offered my hand. “Well,” I said, “Thank you so much everything, it has been amazing meeting you all weekend!” He thanked me in return and shook my hand, and I walked away from his booth for the final time.
I am still so incredibly happy that I not only have the chance to meet Mads Mikkelsen all weekend, but that he was so friendly and genuine to me and to all of the fans that I watched him interact with. And the icing on the cake was that he actually approached Sam of Cakes Cove when he saw her in the back area and complimented her on the ortolans she had made! Of course I was excited not only that our encounter was that memorable, but also that he went out of his way to speak to the person that made the birds!
I definitely approached meeting Mads differently than I have any other celebrity in the past, where I’ve mostly acted like a complete fangirl. In this case, I wanted him to like me. I wanted him to see who I was, to give him something amazing, and to stand out. I suppose I approached him in a similar way that I would Hannibal Lector, because Hannibal dislikes being bored and I assumed, in three days of signing autographs and taking photos, Mads would as well.
I left Fan Expo knowing that meeting Mads this weekend was a positive and memorable experience for both of us, which was exactly what I had hoped for!
Mary is a walking encyclopedia of Avengers, X-Men, and Batman. She is an avid cosplayer and obsessive reader. She’s dreamed of living in the Avengers and/or X-Mansion since she was eight years old, which is almost as long as she’s wanted to be a Sailor Scout. You can check out her cosplay at http://www.facebook.com/marymordrake and her fanfiction at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Harleydoll/works . Her instagram is @marymordrakecosplay and her Pinterest is Mary Mordrake.
Scoop here: It took awhile to translate this entire article from ALLCAPS, but it was worth it. Mary told me multiple times at FanExpo that she was going to write about meeting Hannibal. I was too afraid to say no. 😉 You can read her thoughts on what the movie X-Men Days Of Future Past might mean and her review of the movie X-Men Days Of Future Past. Also, she talked about Feminism in the Avengers Age of Ultron SPOILERS. P.S. I have never watched Hannibal because I am far too squeamish.