When I first ran into Hannibal Executive Producer Bryan Fuller at Comic-Con this year, it was at NBC Digital’s always-fabulous Saturday night party. He was wearing a magnificent custom-made blazer, emblazoned with Star Wars everything. We spoke only briefly, knowing that I would be meeting him in the morning for a slightly longer interview, this time at NBC’s corner of the SDCC universe at the Tin Fish Grill.
This time, he was joined by Executive Producer Martha DeLaurentis, and we talked about season three of NBC’s Hannibal, where the story is going, and its (at least for the time-being) end of the road.
This season, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is in a sort of familiar (for him) territory — Italy–accompanied by Bedelia (Gillian Anderson). They are in their own intimate cat-and-mouse game, while Will Graham, back from just-nearly dead pursues him, following him to Europe. Particularly towards the beginning of the season (and especially episode two), it is sometimes hard to know within the surreal images and disjointed (in a good, unique way) presentation, just how much of the action takes place in Will’s head.
Fuller explained that “a lot of the second episode is, in so many ways, a mind warp. I felt that Will Graham would be in a state of mind where he wouldn’t really be able to tell what’s real and what’s not, he’s so traumatized.”
Although that episode, within the parameters of Hannibal is a bit surreal, everything else is kind of really happening. And in “the last two episodes, things have been really heating up.”
Fuller noted that the Francis Dolarhyde story (which is the core of Robert Harris’ novel Red Dragon) comes into play in a couple of weeks. “We do a three year time jump between episodes seven and eight.”
Elaborating on exploring the story told in Red Dragon, Fuller explained, “To me the fun of doing Hannibal was in getting to the Francis Dolarhyde, and telling parts of the story that haven’t really been told before because we have six hours and not two (like in a movie). So it’s great to have that kind of real estate to explore this great character.”
One of the things that intrigue Fuller about Francis is his complexity. “Our goal was to confuse the audience as to how to feel about him. He’s a horrible killer of families, but he’s also a deeply tortured, deeply romantic man, who’s eloquent and elegant with his romantic poetry and his dealing with Reba McLane. Always something I rooted for. I root for Francis Dolarhyde to win out over his worst self.”
Martha DeLaurentis, who also produced the 2002 version of Red Dragon, starring Ralph Fiennes as Dolarhyde and Edward Norton as Will Graham) inserted, “and of course, Will wants to save him.”
For the most part, according to Fuller, they will stick to the novel, but everything, will “have a different prism through which the story is projected, because of the relationship already established in the series between Hannibal and Will.” In the novel, Will and Hannibal have only two meetings, obviously a world of difference from their relationship in Hannibal. “Now they have a rich history together. They never had the bromance that we have in the show,” said Fuller. “Now that we’re entering Red Dragon territory, everything’s a little skewed.”
DeLaurentis spoke about Hannibal’s coming to Italy, where, if he did not grow up, “he became a man there. And he slips into this comfortable” new-old world, she said. “And of course the interactions” between Hannibal and Bedelia, and how she plays into that are a major part of the story. She likes playing Hannibal’s psychological games, but if she appears to succumb, is she only playing?
DeLaurentis observed that Bedelia “is very interested in this Hannibal–someone she’s not seen before. Like Hannibal, she likes to see how far they can be pushed just by observing. Who can control the situation best? Who can hold out the longest?”
According to DeLaurentis, Hannibal’s new existence in Italy is the life he wants to have, finally. “And when Will comes a calling,” she said, “there begins a new part of the game. We have beginnings, and we have endings.”
Hannibal’s future–the television series, that is–right now, is a bit in the air. NBC has not picked up a fourth season, and both Neflix and Amazon have passed. Although there has been some talk of a Hannibal movie, Bryan Fuller is now engaged in bringing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to Starz next year. So will fans be satisfied with how season three concludes? Will it give them the closure they deserve after three years?
Fuller said, “every season was designed to have a finale—season or series. And for this season, I would say, that there are clues along the way. There are clues in these early episodes that pay off along along the way later. So much of the early plot of the season, especially between Will and Hannibal gets hijacked, and then, in an interesting way, comes back and we complete that arc we’ve set up the first half of the season.” Fans, he said, should be satisfied.
Hannibal airs Thursday nights on NBC.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0425228223,B001LX2J22,B00005JLKN,0312924585,B00CWIMY3O,B00LHVZIT4]