TVLine's Performer of the Week: Hugh Dancy

Hannibal Hugh DancyA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Hugh Dancy

THE SHOW | Hannibal

THE EPISODE | “Buffet Froid”

THE AIRDATE | May 30, 2013

It’s tough to pull focus from a series’ titular character, especially when that character is a cannibalistic sociopath who views murder as the highest art form. But in Thursday’s episode, Hannibal’s exploits took a back seat to Hugh Dancy’s portrayal of the killer’s fragile pawn, Will Graham.

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The genius-as-prickly-recluse thing has been done before; Hugh Laurie as Gregory House instantly comes to mind. But Will has none of Dr. House’s swagger or bravado to protect him, and Dancy’s vulnerability in the quirky role makes the socially awkward profiler an endearing – and intriguing — character.

When Will is under duress, as he was on Thursday, Dancy is incandescent. He filled the episode with a frantic energy as Will feared he was going insane (but unknowingly suffered from encephalitis). Each time Graham’s mind took another disturbing detour, the actor conveyed a new level of freaked-out. His eyes darted. He paced. He pleaded with Hannibal for answers. And by the time Will shouted his name, the time and his location in a vain attempt to root himself in reality, Dancy had elegantly worked his character into a panic nearly as scary as Dr. Lecter himself.

HONORABLE MENTION | Mad Men‘s January Jones

The real Betty is back, and January Jones is on fire. No longer shackled to fat suits and Betty’s crumbled self-esteem, Jones played the skinny former Mrs. Draper with gusto on Sunday. Whether she was coyly courting an admirer, proudly singing a goofy song at Bobby’s camp or delivering a perfect post-coital send-up of Don, Jones shone with Betty’s newly regained confidence. Here’s hoping the actress gets more opportunities to strut Betty’s slimmed-down stuff in the remainder of the season.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?