Hannibal is undoubtedly one of the best new shows to arrive on TV this year. With its shocking yet beautiful imagery of death and horror, its tooth-grindingly tense plots and stellar performances from Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Eddie Izzard, Kacey Rohl and the rest of the outstanding cast, Hannibal is one of those rare shows that leaves you absolutely transfixed and hungry (pun intended) for more after each episode.
If you missed Hannibal when it first ran on NBC, there's plenty of time to get caught up with the episodes on Amazon before the show returns in 2014. For those who have seen the entire first season and are eager to know what happens next, the cast and crew of Hannibal obliged by making an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, to talk about the show and what the 'Fannibals' can expect to see the future. If you haven't seen the first season all the way up to the finale yet, then be warned: the following recap contains MAJOR SPOILERS.
SPOILERS FOR HANNIBAL SEASON ONE AHEAD
HitFix kept a comprehensive live blog of last night's Hannibal panel at SDCC, which featured show creator Bryan Fuller, director David Slade, producer Martha De Laurentiis and stars Hugh Dancy and Aaron Abrams. The team were pretty brave going up against an audience of fans after the rage-inducing season finale that left poor Will Graham behind bars, Hannibal Lecter smiling at him from the other side, and a whole lot of people throwing objects at their televisions. If you think that Bryan Fuller was enjoying Will's pain, you're absolutely right:
“Will knows something no one else knows, and it’s a great place to put a character. One of the things I was most excited about in Season 2 was seeing Will Graham hit rock bottom.”
Given the fact that Will spent most of season one hallucinating, perspiring, or doing both simultaneously, it will be interesting to see what happens when he really hits rock bottom. Apparently he will be "scrappy" and "feisty," though, so that's definitely something to look forward to. Season two will begin with a two-parter that will serve as "a new pilot for what the season can be" now that the old dynamics are gone and Will is in jail, and the third episode, according to Fuller, "will be a trial." That sounds ominous.
Prior to working on Hannibal, De Laurentiis had long been involved in adaptations of Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter novels, from as far back as Manhunter. When asked about the process of bringing the serial killer to a television show, De Laurentiis said that it emerged from a curiosity about what Will and Hannibal were doing before the events of "Red Dragon," and that she wanted to make 13 episodes without a pilot so that the show could be made on its own terms. De Laurentiis also added that she hoped it would go on for another seven seasons (has she been taking lessons from The Walking Dead's producers?).
Fuller went on to say that his two main influences for the visual style of show were Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch: "I literally sat at the page and asked, 'What would David Lynch do with Hannibal Lecter?'" He also confirmed that the ear which Will coughs up in the season finale was an intentional reference to Lynch's film Blue Velvet, though he added that it was originally going to be a finger, "But that would be harder to cough up. An ear is chewy and malleable."
Three actors so far have played the character of Will Graham on-screen: William Petersen in Manhunter, Edward Norton in Red Dragon, and Hugh Dancy in Hannibal. Dancy said that he hadn't read any of the books until Fuller pitched him the script, at which point he read through "Red Dragon" several times. Once he got the role, he deliberately chose not to watch Manhunter (which he'd never seen) or rewatch Red Dragon, because he wanted to make the character of Will Graham his own as much as possible. Having read the book upon which the show was based, he was very impressed by Fuller's scripts: "I kept hearing Thomas Harris' voice in the background, which is an incredible achievement for a television show."
Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Hannibal Lecter, was not present at the panel, but Fuller shared a somewhat amusing anecdote about Mikkelsen's audition for the role. Fuller had wanted someone who could give a performance distinct from that of the other actors who had played the role, and found the man he was looking for when Mikkelsen walked in and said, "He didn't want to play Anthony Hopkins or Brian Cox; he wanted to play Satan."
Finally, in a fine example of the bizarre double standard that exists with regards to sexual imagery vs. violent imagery in television and films, Fuller talked about an exchange that took place over questionable material in an episode where a couple are murdered and have the skin sliced from their backs to form angel wings. Since the flesh angels were nude, their butt cracks were visible in one of the shots and NBC insisted that the butt cracks be removed. Fuller recalled the incident, saying, "They were cracked in many ways, and their butt crack to me was a less offensive crack they were sporting."
In the end, Fuller offered to fill the butt cracks with blood to make them less objectionable. NBC said, "Okay."
Hannibal season 2 begins filming in September and will air on NBC in 2014.