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The 5 best 'Hannibal' guest stars

With "Hannibal" coming to an end, it’s the perfect opportunity to reminisce and give thanks for some of the show’s tremendous guest stars. While it’s difficult, even with a scant 39 episodes, to recognize all of the terrific casting turns the series provided, here’s a look at five standout performances that stayed with us long after the credits rolled.

Hints of Clarice Starling: Anna Chlumsky was "Hannibal's" haunting Miriam Lass. (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Anna Chlumsky
Playing Miriam Lass, a character who haunted the show long before fans ever saw her visage, Chlumsky brought a bright and inquisitive energy to a show whose elegance could sometimes edge just this side of dour. Lass was simultaneously tenacious and naive and ended up being the closest the show ever came to capturing the magic that is Clarice Starling, without ever adapting the character.

Sadistic menace: Michael Pitt was "Hannibal's" original Mason Verger. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Pitt
The show’s original Mason Verger (Verger was portrayed by Joe Anderson in Season 3), Pitt captured the sadistic menace of the entitled sociopath with a manic camp and ruthless cruelty that drove audiences to root fervently for his comeuppance. Their patience was rewarded (and then some) when Mason was forced to cut off his nose to spite his face. Pitt’s characterization made it all the sweeter when Verger abided by Hannibal’s advice to, “Eat the rude.”

The victim turned soothing realist: Eddie Izzard was "Hannibal's" Dr. Abel Gideon. (Prashant Gupta / FX)

Eddie Izzard
No stranger to playing memorable characters, Izzard’s portrayal of Dr. Abel Gideon was both masterful and understated. One of the first victims of Frederick Chilton’s unfortunate psychiatric care, Gideon eventually grows resigned to the manipulations of those around him and becomes one of the few people who seems to see the maddening world around him for what it is. This, coupled with Izzard’s impeccable comic timing, allowed for a soothing and centering repeat performance.

The bright light: Rutina Wesley played Reba. (NBC)

Rutina Wesley
A late Season 3 addition, Wesley played Reba, the blind, self-sufficient love interest to Francis Dolarhyde and a bright spot in a season that could get unrepentantly grim. Wesley’s uncompromising portrayal brought an inner light to Reba that made it all the more appropriate that Dolarhyde viewed her as “the woman clothed in sun.”

The antidote: Nina Arianda's Molly was Will's reprieve from the Hannibal Lecter horror show. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

Nina Arianda
Another Season 3 addition, Tony winner Nina Arianda joined the show post-time jump as Will’s new wife Molly, a woman with a big heart and forgiving nature who seemed to be the antidote to the poison that constituted Will’s past. At first, Arianda’s warm, generous presence seemed jolting, but it soon became clear that this was an intentional reprieve from the horror show that was Hannibal Lecter and she quickly became the happy ending the audience desperately wanted Will to deserve.

 

MORE:

Calling all 'fannibals': What do you think was the most memorable 'Hannibal' moment?

Follow me on Twitter at @midwestspitfire.

libby.hill@latimes.com

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