Bryan Fuller: Hannibal Delivers a 'Heightened Quality of Serial Killer,' With 'Operatic' Deaths
This Thursday at 10/9c, NBC debuts Hannibal, executive producer Bryan Fuller‘s dark, introspective take on the budding partnership between the infamous cannibal (played by Mads Mikkelsen) and FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
And it all began with one sentence. “There’s a line in [the novel] Red Dragon where Hannibal says to Will Graham — paraphrasing here – ‘You caught me essentially because you’re crazy, too,’” Fuller recounted in a recent conference call. “And I just thought, ‘Oh, there is a great untold bromance that I would love to see, as an audience member.’”
Below, we present six things you need to know about the delicious new series, courtesy of the imaginative EP and star Dancy.
HANNIBAL IS THE DARK ONE | Mikkelsen isn’t so much paying homage to past Hannibal performances as he is channeling another ominous figure. Describes Fuller: “One of the very first meetings that I had with Mads, he was talking…more about playing Lucifer and this very dark fallen angel who had an admiration for the beauty and art of the human spirit so much so that if you were not respectful of that beauty, he could be quite punitive and send you to hell in his own very distinct way.”
…BUT WILL’S DARK, TOO | One of the benefits of translating the Red Dragon book into a TV series: More time to really dig into the emotionally tortured character of Will Graham, who can (yet perhaps shouldn’t) tap into killer instincts of his own. Plus, thanks to the small screen’s penchant for anti-heroes and troubled souls, the profiler isn’t as clean-cut as his movie counterparts. “He was traditionally played as a stoic leading man [by William Petersen and Edward Norton],” explains Fuller. “But because of the really complex psychology of the character that’s in the literature, we get to explore that in a way that nobody has before.” (For example, if Clarice Starling had lambs, Graham has his stags.)
THE CRIMES ARE ALMOST THEATRICAL | Although Hannibal can essentially be categorized as a crime procedural, Fuller points out there’s “a slightly more heightened quality of serial killer tale each week to honor the style and the genre that Thomas Harris has created in and of himself.” As such, many of the cases are “more grand” than the typical TV fare and have an “operatic quality” in their staging and the murderers’ motivations.
THE VIOLENCE IS…WELL, VIOLENT | While the series is not short on disturbing, graphic and gory visuals – if the second episode shocks you, brace yourself for No. 4 – Fuller “would love to be going a lot further. But NBC keeps on reminding me where the line is.” So there won’t be (much) “eye-gouging, seeing people’s intestines being removed from their bodies in great noodly clumps.” But for those who like some splatter, the EP assures that the network execs, while maintaining their responsibility as a broadcaster, also “recognize that they are doing a horror show and the show is called Hannibal. They have put us on at 10 o’clock for a reason, so we can maximize what show to honor the genre and also provide fans of the genre certain ingredients that they are expecting to see.”
DEAD AGAIN | Fuller has populated Hannibal with favorites from his other projects, like series regular Caroline Dhavernas (previously of Wonderfalls) and guest stars/Pushing Daisies alums Ellen Greene, Gina Torres, Molly Shannon and Raul Esparza, as well as Dead Like Me lead Ellen Muth. “What was interesting about having Ellen [Muth] on the show was that there was actually an opportunity to deconstruct our previous collaboration in a very unexpected way,” teases the EP. “Her character has the same name and is a reinterpretation of that character and, in fashion, that was sort of the Mulholland Drive-ing of Dead Like Me.”
THIS IS NO ORDINARY CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME | Since Will is no schlub when it comes to picking up on clues, will he catch onto to the fact that his new confidant has a murderous appetite? “There clearly has to be some movement in that area because I’m playing the world’s greatest detector of serial killers,” says Dancy, “and at a certain point you’d start to wonder how the hell I got the job. But at the same time, Hannibal is not just the most intelligent but, in a sense, the most quick-witted man in the show. He’s always that one step ahead.” Despite that, the actor notes “there may be moments when a little alarm seems to go off” for Graham.Follow @VladaGelman