Why did you decide to reprise the role of Hannibal Lecter for a third time?
Ted Tally, who wrote the screenplay for "The Silence of the Lambs", wrote the script for this one. So I was sold on that and I signed on for the film. I trusted that it would work out well. I then went to meet Brett Ratner [the director]. He just had had huge success with "Rush Hour", and I liked his enthusiasm. Then I heard about some of the other people who were expressing interest in being part of the movie - Ed Norton, who's quite a stunning actor, Harvey Keitel, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I thought: "That's a pretty great bunch of people, so why not?"
How do you think "Red Dragon" compares to the other two Hannibal Lecter stories?
I actually think it's the best of the three. I think "Red Dragon" is the most interesting and frightening and scary. I think what's interesting is the way the investigator Will Graham seems to get into the mind of the killer and also the forensic stuff that goes on. Forensic science interests me a lot.
Is this the same old Hannibal Lecter we know and love, or is he different in any way?
Well, I tried to play him differently than I did in the other two films. In fact, I said this to Brett Ratner straight away, that I didn't just want to repeat what I did in "Silence of the Lambs". In "Red Dragon", Lecter is so much angrier. He's enraged. And he's furious with Ed Norton's character about being locked away, and would destroy him if he could. So it's that anger I wanted to be there. No charm. Just lethal. And Brett helped me get there with that.
How did Brett Ratner shape up as the director?
You know, he brings to the movie pretty much what Jonathan Demme brought to "The Silence of the Lambs" - abundant enthusiasm and energy. He thinks on his feet. I think he has a storyboard but he thinks on his feet. He sees what he sees on the frame, through the camera, and then he goes for it. He knows what he wants. He knows what he sees.