The twistedly haunting, creepy and unexpected NBC series Hannibal is one of the best shows currently on television. With shocking revelations, psychological cat-and-mouse games, and intricately detailed murders, it certainly stays with you, long after it airs. And with everyone’s lives in peril by the end of the Season 2 finale, there’s no telling who will still be a part of the show, when it returns for a very differently structured Season 3.
After a recent screening of the finale, held for Emmy nomination consideration and proving that this show is so cinematically beautiful that it should always be watched on the big screen, Collider was invited to chat with show creator Bryan Fuller. During the interview, the executive producer/writer talked about when he knew what the Season 2 finale would be, that he likes to share information with the actors because he feels like it helps their performance, how the relationship with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) will evolve next, having to understand Hannibal’s past to catch him in the present, introducing Lady Murasaki, Hannibal’s relationship with Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson), starting Season 3 in mid-October, shooting in Europe, and his hope to keep director David Slade around for awhile. Check out what he had to say after the jump about Hannibal season 3, and be aware that there are spoilers.
BRYAN FULLER: About half-way through the season, I essentially saw the finale with clarity, which was Hannibal leaving Alana, Jack and Will bleeding. It felt like it was an appropriate finale. Also, there was a little bit of David Lynch. I remember this interview with him, when he was talking about the first season of Twin Peaks and the finale, where everybody had a cliffhanger. It was amazing. And basically, what he said was that he wanted to make it near impossible for them not to pick up more episodes. So, there was that in the back of my head. I just wanted to make sure we got another season, in some way, even if it was coercion. And if it was the last episode, I think there’s something amazing about Hannibal Lecter walking away to freedom that allows the audience to then take that character and the ownership of that character into their own hearts, and imagine where he goes from there themselves. If we hadn’t gone forward, it was a Valentine to the fannibals to create their own conclusion for Hannibal Lecter.
When you decided to leave all of the characters, in this way, did you also know what their ultimate outcome would be, and who would survive and who wouldn’t?
FULLER: Yes, I knew who had to survive and whose stories had to continue. Part of the fun of Season 3 is actually figuring out how to reinvent every one of those characters because they have to be changed. They can’t be the same person. That doesn’t just happen to you, and you go back to who you were. That’s exciting. Everybody who survives doesn’t completely survive. They’ve lost a little bit themselves to Hannibal Lecter, and that’s the prices that you pay.
Did you tell the actors, when you gave them the finale script, what their ultimate outcome would be?
FULLER: Yeah. If I know, I tell the actors because I feel in helps their performance. I’m not one of those people who wants to withhold information because I’m worried about secrets getting out. I trust Hugh [Dancy], I trust Caroline [Dhavernas], I trust Laurence [Fishburne] and I trust Mads [Mikkelsen]. They are all as protective of the show and the audience experience as I am, so there’s no reason for me to withhold anything. I also like to share. I want them to be as excited as I am, when they find out what’s happening.
It’s safe to say that Will Graham will still be around.
So, how do you evolve the relationship between Will and Hannibal when, for at least awhile, they won’t be in the same place?
FULLER: Right. Well, the cool part for me is that, in order for Will Graham to catch Hannibal Lecter, he has to understand Hannibal Lecter in a way that he hasn’t before. It’s almost a device to go into some of the Hannibal Rising structure, where we go into Hannibal’s past, except it’s Will Graham trying to understand who Hannibal was, in order to catch him in the present. That will be the thrust of a good portion of Season 3.
Last time we spoke, you said that you wanted to introduce Lady Murasaki in Season 3. Is that how that will come into play?
FULLER: Yeah, I want Lady Murasaki to be part of the show. I’m fascinated with that relationship. By exploring who Hannibal was, we’ll see what his relationship was to his family and to his sister. That will probably be the biggest deviation from the novels, but that’s also wonderful unchartered territory. In order to hunt this man down, he has to understand him in a way that he never has before, and that requires him to get underneath Hannibal’s skin in a unique way. We have to continue evolving who Will Graham is because he cannot be the same man that he was, so that’s going to be exciting to. As Will as looking for Hannibal, we’ll be wondering what his motivations are and where his loyalties are. We ended Season 2, not completely clear on where Will Graham’s loyalties are, and I don’t think we’re going to be clear on that for awhile.
Why did you decide to have Bedelia join Hannibal on his escape?
FULLER: Gillian [Anderson] is just wonderful, is the big motivator. I think she’s fantastic on the show, and I love her as a human being and as an actress. I was curious about their dynamic because when she first sat across from Hannibal, in those early episodes, history was implied between the two characters, just by their behavior and their chemistry, and I wanted to know more about that. Part of the fun is setting up the paradigm where we have to explore that relationship. It’s our obligation to the audience, and it’s our obligation to find out more about Hannibal Lecter by turning his relationship with his psychiatrist inside out in a way that we learn more about her. That’s exciting. We know very little about Bedelia. I think she is the one person on the show who is a true equal, of sorts, with Hannibal Lecter, and I’m curious to see what all we come up with to expand that relationship.
Will there be more locations and new sets, especially with Hannibal Lecter on the run?
FULLER: Well, we’re talking about how we’re going to produce Season 3 and one of the things that we’re very curious about is exploring shooting abroad for five or six weeks to help us see Hannibal in an environment that he’s never been in before. Right now, we have a European shoot as part of our Season 3 plan.
FULLER: Mid-October, right now. I know what Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are, and what we’re building to. We’re going to have a couple different chapters in the season, like we did in the first season. That really helped us focus story and prevented us from treading water. So, there will be two chapters to Season 3.
You’ve said that it could be Episode 2 or 3 before the audience finds out who actually died at the hands of Hannibal Lecter. Are you talking about that because you know people are going to be anxious to find out, and you’re pre-warning them that they’ll have to wait a bit?
FULLER: Yeah, you won’t find out in the first episode, so I just want to make sure that nobody is mad when they show up and they’re like, “Wait, we didn’t see anybody but Hannibal!” It’s exciting for me because it is a brand new pilot for a brand new series that is completely different than the first two seasons. It’s also terrifying because all of our crutches that we’ve leaned on, over the past two years, have just been kicked out from underneath us by ourselves. We did the kicking. So, the challenge and the fun of that is to craft a whole new adventure with this wonderful character. The sky is the limit. It’s nice to be off book, in a way, because Bedelia doesn’t exist in the literature. For me, the thing that I wanted to do the series for most was to see Hannibal in relationships. In the novel, he’s a caged animal. He doesn’t have friends. I wanted to see Hannibal with friends. I wanted to see him with lovers. I wanted to see who he was, as a human being. Ever since that first meeting with Mads Mikkelsen where he said, “He’s not just a cannibalistic psychiatrist, he’s the devil,” that was so wonderful in its mythology. I love the genre and I love the idea that, whenever we break a story, two things have to be true. Hannibal Lecter is a man that is confined by the reality of the world, and he is the devil. Both of those things have to be true, at any given moment. So, we can’t have him do magical things, but we can suggest a greater power than a mortal man would have.
FULLER: The tricky thing with this show is that it is a story about two men and their relationship. But if it were just about male point of views, it wouldn’t be interesting. I feel like we haven’t done as good of a job, in Season 2, of representing the female characters and their point of view of the world. I think there’s a greater opportunity in Season 3 to do that, and do more of that. In Season 2, we knew the story was about these two guys, and everybody else around them were pawns. Jack Crawford was a pawn. Alana Bloom was a pawn. It was all about what was between Hannibal and Will Graham. Because of that, it was hard to get a point of view into the show that didn’t necessarily stop story. One of the cool things about sitting down and planning Season 3 is that we’re having more female characters. We’re going to have Lady Murasaki and we’re going to have Bedelia. That is exciting to not just represent the gender, but I don’t see them as female characters. I’m gender blind and race blind, in that way. I just see them as people that I try to make as interesting as they can be, in the context of the story. I actually prefer to write women characters. It’s odd that I’m doing a story about two men because Dead Like Me was about a young woman’s journey, Wonderfalls was about a young woman’s journey, and Pushing Daisies was about a young man and a young woman, at the same time, but it had a real feminine perspective on life and romance.
So, I feel like Season 3 is the opportunity to get that, in a way that doesn’t hinge as much on sexuality as it does specificity. This may be sexist, in a way, to say, but I think that there is actually a greater freedom to have a female character express what she’s feeling than you have with a male character because we’ve got very narrow views of gender, on both sides. Sometimes you don’t want to see a man do certain things because it feminizes them, and sometimes you don’t want to see a woman do certain things because it masculinizes her. Those concepts are odd to me because I just see people, as opposed to genitals. I love women. Most of my friends are women, and I love the perspective of women. Even though we are leaps and bounds, and hopefully we will have a female president in a couple of years, which I think would be wonderful, we are not free of any gender bias, at all.
Are you going to be able to keep director David Slade around for Season 3?
FULLER: I hope so. He’s wonderful. I hope we get him for a lot in Season 3. We have to figure out his schedule to see if he can, depending on what he’s doing. He’s got a couple of movies. But I know he wants to come back, and we want him back. He’s my partner on the show. We sat down and spoke for hours about our love for the literature and the character. It’s wonderful to have that in a partner, and I feel like I’ve got that with David and I’ve got that with Steve Lightfoot, who’s my writing partner. I feel like there is an enthusiasm for the show and for the genre, from those of us that are making it, as fans. We’re fans making the show, which is a rare opportunity.
Hannibal will return for Season 3 on NBC.