After only two seasons, NBC's Hannibal has already earned itself a reputation for shocking season finales that leave fans clamoring for the next chapter of the story. While its ratings remain fairly modest, Hannibal is something of a prestige project for the network and has been heaped with praise from reviewers, as well as gaining a dedicated fan following.
The show was created by Bryan Fuller, whose TV projects so far have had a rather unfortunate habit of never quite managing to make it beyond a second season. Fuller was responsible for the dark humor of grim reaper tale Dead Like Me and resurrection love story Pushing Daisies, as well as short-lived comedy drama series Wonderfalls, in which the souvenir figurines of a Niagara Falls gift shop start talking to the sales clerk.
While Hannibal is ostensibly set in a world free of such supernatural occurrences, the show definitely has its own brand of weirdness. With that in mind, the news that Fuller had invited the casually weird actor and musician David Bowie to star in the second season of Hannibal seemed very fitting, even if Bowie was ultimately unable to take the role due to his busy schedule. Speaking in an interview with Collider, Fuller hinted that the dream of seeing Bowie on the show could still become a reality.
"We were told by his people, when we got the pick-up for the third season, to make sure to ask again about his availability. So, once we have our dates, we are going to ask again. I think the man walks on water, so I would love to be in his orbit, in some way... He’s very aware [of the offer]. But he’s also very, very busy. He’s got lots of exciting things coming out, musically. That was the block to the second season. He’s incredibly busy."
The surreal and hypnotic dream sequences and hallucinations featured in Hannibal - not to mention the artful staging of the show's many corpses - has led to the series being widely considered as an "art show," with the more unkind critics describing it pretentious. When asked about this, Fuller said that he doesn't mind either of those labels, and talked a little about the show's classic horror influences.
"I consider us an art show. I love that we are a pretentious art show. I love pretension and I love art. Under the Skin was my favorite movie of the year. I love to be as pretentious and arty as we can be.
"I think Dario Argento is a big influence on the show, in terms of our production design. There is something so purple and operatic about what he has always done, particularly his use of colors and never being afraid of the garish and embracing that as part of his vocabulary. So, there is going to be a bit of Dario Argento there. There has been, and I think we’re going to continue to embrace that aesthetic."
It's easy to spot the influence of Argento's giallo movies in Hannibal, from the discordant soundtrack to the staged, artistic nature of the murders. Somewhat ironically, however, the fact that the show airs on NBC precludes the inclusion of graphic sex or nudity, and so the dismembered corpses have to be carefully arranged so as to conceal anything too offensive (intestines are fine).
Fans of Thomas Harris' novels no doubt already have their own personal fan casts for each of the characters, and it turns out that Fuller does as well. In addition to eagerly pursuing Bowie for a role in the show, Fuller was also able to rattle off a list of actors that he's been trying to cast in Hannibal, and whom he hopes will be able to join the show at some point in its recently revised six-season arc.
"I’m a huge fan of David Thewlis. I would love him to come and play with us. And Brad Dourif... I would love to get Kristin Chenoweth on this show. I would love to get Lee Pace. I would love to get Anna Friel. Those are all people that we've gone down roads with, to try to secure them in the past, but scheduling hasn’t worked out. But I'm never going to stop trying."
Hannibal has enjoyed a pretty fantastic supporting cast so far, from regulars like Laurence Fishburne to the recurring roles of the show's many psychopaths, who have been played by the likes of Eddie Izzard and Michael Pitt. Dourif in particular seems like a natural fit to play another serial killer, since he's best known for roles like Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings, the Gemini Killer in The Exorcist III and Chucky in the Child's Play franchise.
Fuller has said in the past that he would ideally want Bowie to play Hannibal's uncle Robert, and has also revealed that both Lady Murasaki and Francis Dolarhyde will appear in the third season of the show. He didn't, however, specify which characters he'd want Dourif, Thewlis, Chenoweth, Pace and Friel to play. Let the fan casting commence.
Hannibal returns to NBC for season 3 in 2015.