CAUSE OF DEATH | Crushed by a falling toilet seat.
While the pilot didn’t reveal George’s dead physical remains, Fuller says that had definitely been the plan. “The original intention was for us to see all the kind of pieces in a puzzle-like form representing her body. We couldn’t afford the prosthetics, so you just kinda saw over somebody’s shoulder that there was some work going on.”
As for how the young Lass met her death, Fuller never had an alternative idea. “The fun was always that she was going to be torpedoed by a toilet seat. We knew she was going to be obliterated and kind of thrown into pieces. That was the main idea for her — to be destroyed by a toilet seat.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | A scratch-and-sniff book explodes in her face.
“We wanted her to be so charred that she crusted like wood,” recalls Fuller. “There was a woody quality to the texture of her skin, that it had been so charred that we were able to do those long striations and give her a facial wood grain with the amount and the intensity of the heat. That was about being able to identify the cadaver when we had completely charred her face and her front. The back of her is completely intact and you see the sweetness of her eyes when she’s talking about [her dead] grandma and her memories, why she had such an emotional reaction to the scratch-and-sniff. We definitely amped up the reality of it and chose to go even further so it wasn’t as gory.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Pushed into his own batter and deep fried.
“When somebody is deep-fried they are going to look horrendous in terms of how their skin is cracked and peeling and bloody and terrible,” explains Fuller. “So we basically wanted to give him the same look as fried chicken, since he was Colonel Lickin’. And so the skin of Colonel Lickin’ was very much intentionally designed to look like fried chicken. And what we actually did to get some fried chicken flakes was we put cornflake cereal on top of this fried make up to give it some chip and splitting. I think he looks delicious!”
Fuller instantly remembers the body’s resemblance to a fried egg. “Our motivation for that was we wanted her to be kind of melted onto the glass pane of the light and so I remember going down [to the stage] and looking at it and thinking ‘Oh we need to make that a little more cartoonish.’ It wasn’t quite looking like a fried egg so we had to do a little bit more work to it to get it back into fried egg aesthetics before we actually shot it. We always looked for some kind of odd inspiration that you could do with an object that wasn’t a human being and then doing that with a human being.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Hannibal Lecter copies Garrett Jacob Hobbs’ style of murder.
“I needed it to be visually dynamic and psychologically disturbing. The clue for the forensic team was that there was antler velvet in the wounds. Given that information, we knew that [the dead girls] had been hung on antlers to facilitate the harvesting process,” explains Fuller. “So turn that into a surreal work of art, where this young woman is impaled on antlers on a severed stag head that would then become this symbol for Will Graham — Hannibal Lecter’s first murders that he was exposed to. He sees this raven-feathered stag as an extension of the severed stag head and the ravens that were picking at the corpse, and amalgamated all of them in his mind. And out came this image from his subconscious that is directly linked to Hannibal Lecter.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Eldin Stamets, a pharmacist, grows mushrooms in decomposing bodies.
“The Mushroom Man didn’t come about until the third or fourth draft of the script,” reveals Fuller. “[The original episode] was about a shootout, or a massacre essentially, in a fast food restaurant. So it was going to be exploring the juxtaposition between fast food with the haute cuisine of Hannibal Lecter and the trash that we put in our bodies versus the art that we put in our bodies. But the intellectual, artistic elements of that episode were just eclipsed by the violence of someone walking into a McDonalds and shooting the place up.”
The episode took shape when the writers pitched a killer who grew mushrooms off live people. They then came across a TEDTalk by Dr. Stamets, a mushroom specialist, whom Fuller says they referenced in the episode. “We named the killer Eldin Stamets to homage the source inspiration.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Elliot Budish kills people he deems evil and turns them into “angels” to scare death away while he sleeps.
“We were certainly embracing a mental illness that was brought about by a tumour and a killer who was not necessarily in control of his faculties, nor was he able to see reality for what it was,” says Fuller. “It was kind of our introduction to a dream-like state for Will Graham and his questioning of Hannibal Lector as he sort of became further and further trapped in the intricate web that the doctor was weaving. So it was almost setting up the vocabulary for later in the series, for us to fully embrace our strange dream logic because reality is not necessarily all that it seems.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Tobias Budge, a cello instructor, jams a cello neck down the victim’s throat.
“I love the cello as an instrument — it’s gorgeous and the sound is incredibly moving and transcendent — so I was very excited to sit down and talk with Brian Reitzell, our composer,” shares Fuller. “I said to him ‘We’re going to jam the neck of a cello down someone’s throat and then be able to stretch the tendons of his vocal cords across the neck and play them as though they were a string instrument.’ We got into talking about how the very first instruments known to man were all made from bones and parts of human beings. So there was a full circle of where we’ve come with music now and modern instruments, back to a very primal place that included very witchy goings on with musical instruments.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | A serial killer hunts and murders people to form a human mural of an eye.
“The impetus for that one actually started with Busby Berkeley. His fantastic choreography of 30’s movie musicals it was looking at those designs that he created with people and finding a way for us to do with the dead what Busby Berkeley did with the living,” reveals Fuller. “The idea of it being an eye which would then look up to the heavens almost as a challenge to God, of the creator of the art that is both creator and destroyer and having that existential crisis be seen through the prism of an eye composed of death was reflective of where Hannibal and Will were in their relationship with Will seeing for the first time through clear eyes who Hannibal really is.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Katherine Pimms, an acupuncturist, turns dead bodies into bee hives.
“We started talking about [the bee death] when we referenced Pushing Daisies — we had a bee death that was fun and iconic,” says Fuller. “Scott Nimerfro who worked on both Hannibal and Pushing Daisies pitched a human beehive and we thought how fun would it be to take a murder tableau of sorts from Pushing Daisies and reinvent it for Hannibal with a much darker tone.”
As for the killer’s name, Fuller intended that to be a wink to the audience. “In Pushing Daisies Chuck takes on Kitty Pimms as her alias. So for Hannibal we thought ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if this was the Katherine Pimms that somehow found her way into Chuck’s life and served as an inspiration before going off the deep end?’ It was a nod to an unwritten piece of history in Charlotte Charles’ life.”
When it came to Beverly Katz, Fuller knew how she was going to die. “Hannibal was going to be ending Beverley’s life in an epic fashion after she saw clearly the warnings that Will Graham had been shouting to the mountain tops,” explains Fuller. “I had always been inspired by Damien Hirst and the Bodyworks Museum and I thought how fantastic it would be if we did to a human being what Damien Hirst had done with sheep and cows and sort of took them apart in a fashion that was not necessarily disrespectful or respectful, but more scientific – like her forensic studies of any crime scene. She breaks those things down and she takes them apart. So for Hannibal to present Beverly broken down and taken apart to the FBI was both an affront and a tip of the hat in that he was honoring her in some respect as well as mocking the FBI. It felt like it was an appropriately disturbing way for a beloved character to meet her end.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Hannibal grows flowers out of councilman Sheldon Isely.
Fuller was inspired by a painting he’d seen in France a couple years ago.
“It was an open torso with vines and branches growing through the organs and sprouting out the lens,” Fuller describes. “It stuck with me and I always wanted to bring that image to life in morbid way because it was about life growing through death and it felt very poetic. So on the show when we had a body desecrated that way it was almost beautiful at the same time because life was growing through this corpse that served no higher purpose beyond fertilizer for Hannibal Lecter.”
CAUSE OF DEATH | Will kills him self-defence after he tries to murder him.
“Randall Tier was the Randall-Tooth Tiger,” says Fuller. “That’s what we called the display. That was a big moment for Will Graham in the course of the series because Will up until that point had not really been a killer. He’d killed Gareth Jacob Hobbs, but that was to save a life – a life he became invested in. So when he takes Randall Tier’s life it’s self-defence and it’s a relatively understandable gesture given the circumstances. To really seduce Hannibal and prove to him that he is a different kind of man, it became necessary for Will to mutilate a body in horrendous fashion to demonstrate the lengths he is willing to go in order to trap Hannibal, or to become the bait that Hannibal wants.”