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.
Collider was recently invited to chat with executive producer Martha De Laurentiis for this exclusive interview about how she feels about the journey of the series, leading up to the insane Season 2 finale, her reaction when she learned of the events of the finale episode, that the sex scenes have to get trimmed way more often than the violence ever does, which elements of Red Dragon and Hannibal she’s hoping to see in Hannibal Season 3, and the shift in tone for the new season. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are spoilers.
MARTHA DE LAURENTIIS: What was so fun with Season 1 was establishing the relationship between the two, and the trust and the manipulation. As it was coined, early on, there was the bromance, the dance between the two, and the cat and the mouse. Season 2 had Will behind bars. He was at the bottom, and he had to now be the steely character. It was a cat-and-cat game. That was fun because nobody believed Will. There was a lot of range to play there. Will was always teetering on being attracted to Hannibal, as a man and as a being, but not romantically. Sometimes we cross that line, which is fine. The first season, we thought of having it be more procedural, and then serialize things. But, the second season truly dictated that perhaps some of the procedural should be split over a couple of episodes. Some were a little more superficial than others, but it’s always fun to play with how what’s happening in a crime is also a metaphor for what our characters are going through. That just makes it deeper and richer and more complex. There’s so much to play with, and then we see how far we can push it. NBC gave us great freedom. Several of the sex scenes, which were beautifully done, were limited, but it worked out just fine.
You can take somebody’s face off, but then have to trim the sex scenes.
DE LAURENTIIS: Go figure! That’s America. In cast, in foreign territories, they don’t applaud the violence. They don’t care if you have sex, it’s more the violence. So, we have different censorship for some territories. But, we’re fine. They can just put it on a later time at night.
Does every country respond to this show differently?
DE LAURENTIIS: Every territory does respond differently, but we have sold pretty much everywhere in the world. Hannibal, from when it became Silence of the Lambs, pretty much became the #1 villain of all time, which is just amazing. You already have a character that is established and beloved for who he is, and people are always tuning in to see what exactly he’s doing. So, there was that interest, but there was a lot of proving to do. When the news came out that I was going to do it, people said, “Why again tell the tale?” The stakes were high. And I know that Bryan [Fuller] and our actors, our writing room and our production team have done their best to show that we’re making an interpretation that everyone is proud of, and that it’s quality and it’s cinema. Everybody wants to respect the writing of Thomas Harris. That’s the #1 rule.
Because everyone approached this independently from all of the previous incarnations, but with great respect towards those versions, audiences took to this show very quickly.
DE LAURENTIIS: That’s right, and the echoes are there. Bryan dove into every variation that was done before, whether it was a book, a screenplay or a movie, and that’s what’s so much fun, going forward. Now, we’ll enter territory that we’re very familiar with, with the book Red Dragon. What will that interpretation be? We’re not going to tell the straight tell because we can’t. We’ve gotta come up with new and incredibly shocking things to do, and I can’t wait for that.
Are there elements that you’re pushing to get in there and have them explored?
DE LAURENTIIS: The one thing, next season, with Hannibal Lecter being out and free, he’s not really free. How is he going to live? That explores a bit of territory of the book Hannibal, where he was out in the open in Florence. But, we want to keep him dangerous and keep his game up. And what is the game? The first episode will basically be the story of Hannibal and Bedelia Du Maurier, and what goes on with them. You can’t do this free, lofty thing, out in the open. There will be a bit of a shift in tone, just because of where they will land and the story that will happen. It will certainly be a very rich story to tell.
Do you worry about changing things up, and having Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter separated, at least for a bit, or do you think it’s a necessary next step?
DE LAURENTIIS: It’s necessary in a progression of the storytelling. Obviously, the book Red Dragon will find him incarcerated and it will find Will Graham on the other side of the bars. We know what will end up to be. But, we want to see how Hannibal is going to deal with it. We all want to be a part of that, in watching it. So, I’m not worried about it. Worry is the wrong word. I am concerned that we still amp it up enough because Will Graham will be tracking him. He has to be. And what are the stakes? The stakes are large. It’s all that fine web. What is our forensic team going to be doing? It will be curious. It will be fun to watch what all of the different roles are, in the mix of things. It’s exciting to be a part of that creation.
At what point did you read the finale script and what was your reaction?
DE LAURENTIIS: When Bryan pitched the second season, he pitched the fight that was part of the end sequence, so we knew we’d end up there. It was about what the roles were of the other characters. Around Episodes 6 and 7, it evolved a bit, getting into the lovemaking with the relationship with Alana Bloom. Hannibal Lecter would even hurt Will, whose desire was to have Alana. He even took that from Will. But, it was about how everything would play out.
Hannibal will return for Season 3 on NBC.