Mason Verger (died 1990) was a surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter. Lecter drugged Verger and then convinced him to simultaneously hang himself and cut off most of his own face with a piece of broken mirror, then feed it to his dogs. His neck broken, Verger is left crippled and horrifically disfigured. Prior to his disfigurement by Lecter, Verger was a sexual deviant and a sadistic pedophile who continued to enjoy watching children suffer after his crippling. He also planned to use his vast fortune to capture and murder Lecter in revenge.
Mason Verger was the only son of Molson Verger and sole heir to the Verger meatpacking dynasty. He had a sister, Margot.
As a young man, Mason was enrolled in a summer camp owned by his father, where he often "took advantage" of the other children - he later described them as "unfortunates, who will do anything for a candy bar." He also physically and sexually abused his younger sister, Margot. In one particular assault, he broke and dislocated Margot’s arm, permanently damaging her arm. As an adult, he traveled to Uganda, where he claimed to have worked with Idi Amin and joined in re-enacting the Crucifixion with a real victim. As well as pedophilia, Verger engaged in other deviant practices, such as auto-erotic asphyxiation, zoo sadism, sadomasochism, and as a youth, would masturbate in class. He would also, at least after his attack, flavor his martinis with children’s tears, from the ones he tormented.
After being convicted of child abuse in the 1970s, Mason was able to avoid jail time by agreeing to perform community service and undergo therapy. He was assigned to Hannibal Lecter, who was also Margot’s therapist, and one evening invited the doctor to his home. Mason answered the door wearing leather S&M gear and showed Lecter a noose that he used to perform autoerotic asphyxiation on himself, as well as a couple of dogs that Mason had abducted from the animal shelter where he was volunteering, which he was deliberately starving.
Mason later recalled he had foolishly believed his antics would frighten Lecter, but instead, Lecter politely asked for a demonstration of Mason's noose and offered him what he claimed was an amyl popper. Mason accepted, believing he was entrapping Lecter into giving him prescription drugs for the rest of his life. The "popper" actually contained an incredibly potent cocktail of psychedelic drugs containing angel dust, methamphetamine and acid. Lecter then broke a mirror and suggested Mason cut off his own face with a shard and feed it to the dogs. Mason, in a state of drug induced euphoria, did so (he would recall that "It seemed like a good idea at the time"), but ate his nose himself, though he did not remember doing so until Lecter reminded him years later. Mason also gouged out his left eye. Lecter then tightened the noose that Mason was still wearing, breaking his neck and rendering him tetraplegic. Mason was listed as one of three people to have survived Lecter's killing spree.
Verger survived his ordeal, however he was left paralyzed and horribly disfigured. Mason's facial wounds were partially repaired by skin grafts from the rest of his body, and partly from the skin pumped from the dog's stomachs. These were mostly unsuccessful and left him with no lips and mostly exposed bone, leaving him with a severe speech impediment. He was also blind in his left eye and wore a monocle to lubricate the right eye. His legs and most of his body were useless, requiring a respirator to breathe for him, though one of his hands was semi-functional. As his father's sole heir (his father disowned his sister after discovering she was a lesbian), Mason still enjoyed the full use of his family's wealth and power. When Lecter was imprisoned for his murders, Verger attempted to use his wealth to have Lecter executed. He was enraged to find that Lecter was found insane and sent to an asylum instead. Verger later wished he had tried to have Lecter assassinated in prison.
When Lecter escaped custody, Verger became obsessed with getting revenge on Lecter. Twelve years after his attack and realising he would never walk again, Verger went on hiring an elite gang of Sardinian kidnappers and using his company's resources to create a special breed of gigantic, vicious wild boars, intending to have Lecter captured and then slowly eaten alive. He also posted a bounty on Lecter: $1 million for Dr. Lecter's head and hands, but $3 million for Lecter alive. Verger would also collect highly personal Lecter items, such as the x-ray of Lecter’s left arm, which was dislocated during an attack on a nurse, and Lecter’s restraint mask. He bought them off Lecter’s former caregiver Barney Matthews. A corrupt Italian police inspector, Rinaldo Pazzi, attempted to collect the latter bounty by assisting Verger's men in kidnapping Lecter from Florence, but ended up being killed himself. Lecter then sent Verger a letter, chiding him for his men's clumsiness, reminding him that he ate his own nose during his ordeal, and promising, "before you die you will see my face."
Realizing that Lecter was fascinated with FBI Agent Clarice Starling, Mason used his contacts in the U.S. government, including Starling's nemesis, Paul Krendler, to have Starling suspended from the Bureau on falsified charges that she had been aiding Lecter in hiding from justice.
Verger succeeded in luring Lecter to the United States long enough for his men to kidnap him. While in the barn, Verger described his plan to Lecter. Verger intended to feed Lecter feet first, then twelve hours later his face, then the rest of Lecter. Margot went to the barn and reminisced over the past, where Lecter told her to kill Mason and that he would take the blame. Before he could be eaten by the boars, Lecter was rescued by Starling, who had gone rogue from the Bureau. Verger retreated to his house, but was killed there by Margot, who removed Verger's pet moray eel from its tank and shoved it into his mouth. The eel bit off Verger's tongue, and he drowned in his own blood. Before killing him, Margot used a cattle prod to stimulate Mason's prostate and extract a small measure of his sperm to impregnate her lover, since Molson Verger's will left the family fortune to his next-living male relative in the event of Mason's death. Lecter sent a tape to the FBI gloating how he enjoyed killing Verger.
In the film, Margot does not appear. Instead, Lecter convinces Verger's physician, Dr. Cordell Doemling, to turn on his abusive and ungrateful employer and push him into the pit of wild boars, saying that Cordell can always put the blame on Lecter. Convinced, Cordell pushes Verger into the pen before leaving, and Verger is last seen being torn apart and eaten by the boars.
Trivia / Canon Conflicts
According to Will Graham, in Red Dragon, at the time of that novel, Hannibal Lecter had killed nine known victims, and attacked two others who didn't die. One of these victims was a permanent resident in a mental hospital in Denver, and one was on a respirator in Baltimore. Neither of these living victims was named in the novel, but the latter is presumably a reference to Mason. On the back covers of some versions of Hannibal, Mason was Lecter's sixth victim. This seems to be a contradiction, as Red Dragon states that Lecter's sixth victim was the bow hunter, killed in the style of Wound Man. However, Verger may have been the sixth person Lecter attacked.
Christopher Reeve was originally offered the role of Verger and was initially enthusiastic about the opportunity, but never read the novel, so he had no idea who his character was; he was disgusted with the fact that Verger was a pedophile and refused the part. The role instead went to Gary Oldman.