Though they eventually became redundant within the context of the series’ storyline, the moments that best defined the early seasons of The Sopranos were those between Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Despite Tony’s obstinate attitude, their therapy sessions helped viewers get under the skin of the troubled Mafia boss in a way that felt simultaneously organic and piercing.

Now, it looks like another crime series about a quiet monster may try the same tactic – although Hannibal Lecter’s crimes and passions are decidedly different than Tony Soprano’s. The upcoming television adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal has cast actress Gillian Anderson as the not-so-good doctor’s own therapist. Let the games begin.

EW has reported that Gillian Anderson has been cast for a three-episode arc of the upcoming crime procedural/thriller Hannibal. Anderson is set to play Bedelia du Maurier, Hannibal Lecter’s long-suffering therapist. This is Anderson’s first role on American television since 2002.

Best known for her role as Agent Dana Scully in the science-fiction procedural The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has spent the last ten years acting in various films (The Last King of Scotland, Johnny English Reborn) and British television productions such as the recent adaptation of Great Expectations.

Anderson’s casting confirms that Hannibal‘s production is assembling what looks like a first-rate cast. The series will star Danish heavy Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising) as Dr. Hannibal Lecter – though the early going of the story will feature a Lecter whose cannibalistic tendencies are still unknown to the public at large. Also starring are Hugh Dancy (Martha Marcy May Marlene) as Hannibal’s protégé, Agent Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel) as dyspeptic unit-head Agent Jack Crawford, and Scott Thompson (The Kids in the Hall) as Jimmy Price. Though eclectic, this gathering of actors gives the somewhat-oddball production an air of real promise.

In addition to adding yet more name power to Hannibal‘s roster, Gillian Anderson’s role as a psychiatrist is genuinely intriguing. Throughout his many iterations – whether played by Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins, or Gaspard Ulliel – we have seen Hannibal Lecter match wits with people outside his field of study and rarely meet his equal. While we don’t know the tone of any scenes between Lecter and Dr. du Maurier, one can only hope that they will allow Mikkelsen and Anderson to flex their dramatic muscles and really get into it as psychiatrists. This article began by comparing the pairing to that of Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi, but one can only hope that the comparison will only be a passing one. The possible interplay between the embodiments of Dana Scully and Le Chiffre is too delicious a prospect to let slide into cliches.

Hannibal will stalk its way onto NBC in early 2013.

Source: Entertainment Weekly