‘Hannibal’: Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy Talk Network Censors, Season 4 and More in 90-Minute Interview

     August 4, 2020

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One of my favorite series of the past decade is Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. The amazing TV show was adapted from the Thomas Harris books with Mads Mikkelsen playing serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy playing FBI special investigator Will Graham. While most shows are easy to describe and fit neatly into a box like a procedural, sitcom, or drama, over the course of the three seasons it aired on NBC, Hannibal consistently defied expectations and did things I never thought you could do on network TV. By the time NBC started airing season three, I thought I was watching a cable series that someone managed to get by the network censors. While the past decade has seen many incredible achievements on the small screen, if you’ve never seen Hannibal, I promise it’s absolutely worth your time.

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Image via NBC

With the entire series now streaming on Netflix, I recently landed an extended and exclusive interview with Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy. During our ninety-minute conversation, the two started by answering a few fun questions like first crushes, favorite rides at Disneyland, and TV series they’d like to guest star on/guest write. Soon after we jumped into Hannibal and they shared so many great behind-the-scenes stories it would be impossible to list it all here. But if you’re curious what it was like writing the series, casting Mads Mikkelsen, why Clarice and The Silence of the Lambs storyline was never on the show, who David Bowie would have played, which gory event was blocked by NBC’s standards and practices, and Dancy revealing the unbelievable thing he can’t believe they got away with on Hannibal, you’re in the right place.

Trust me, if you’re a fan of Hannibal, you’re going to love hearing what they had to say. Check out the full interview below and further down the page is a full time index of exactly what we talked about.

Finally, a huge thank you to Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy for giving me so much time.

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Image via NBC

Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy:

  • 0:35: What foods are Dancy and Fuller cooking while in quarantine?
  • 1:36: Dancy reveals which HBO series he’d love to guest star on and Fuller reveals which Emmy-winning TV writer/actor he’d love to have elevate his writing.
  • 2:26: Dancy and Fuller tell us which rides at Disneyland are their favorites.
  • 3:25: Dancy tells us the classic movie he loved watching as a kid and Fuller shares the Kubrick movie he loves.
  • 4:10: Which celebrities were among Dancy and Fuller’s first crushes?
  • 4:40: Fuller discusses if Netflix has told him just how well Hannibal is doing on the streamer and why he’s cautious about the show’s new wave of success with viewers.
  • 6:10: Fuller details why it’s interesting when a show made without the network in mind suddenly finds success.
  • 7:15: If you were going to make more of Hannibal, who controls the rights?
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    Image via NBC

    8:05: Fuller also reveals why getting the rights to Clarice didn’t work out.

  • 9:15: Fuller discussed whether anything is in the works for more Hannibal and the new opportunities for the show now that it’s at Netflix.
  • 10:47: Could a Hannibal movie happen?
  • 11:39 Dancy discusses whether a Hannibal behind-the-scenes documentary would ever happen.
  • 12:30: Fuller and Dancy recall the process of casting Dancy and how easily their first meeting flowed.
  • 17:30: Dancy recalls what it was like first reading with co-star Mads Mikkelsen for Hannibal after working together on King Arthur years before.
  • 19:10: Dancy reveals why it was *very* easy to leave Will on the set of Hannibal before going home.
  • 21:00: Fuller opens up about the decision-making process for the depictions of gore on Hannibal and how the show’s relationship with NBC’s Standards and Practices team affected what we saw onscreen.
  • 22:00 Fuller reveals the ONE gory event that got blocked by S&P.
  • 23:05: Fuller discusses the visual style of the show and David Slade’s role in making Hannibal look elegant.
  • 24:45: Dancy and Fuller detail working with episode directors on adapting to the Hannibal style of shooting.
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    Image via NBC

    31:00: Dancy also reveals how and what Fuller pulled from real-world interactions with he and Mads to script Hannibal episodes.

  • 33:00: Fuller explains the decision by having 13-episode seasons.
  • 35:50: Fuller recalls the push to have Mads Mikkelsen play Hannibal when NBC pushed for someone more readily appealing to US audiences.
  • 39:40: Fuller touches on why having low expectations for Hannibal actually helped the team’s vision for the show get to the screen.
  • 41:50: Dancy on the unbelievable thing he can’t believe the got away with on Hannibal and how it felt to be covered in different kinds of blood.
  • 46:20: Fuller sings the praises of the second-unit team getting the shots every episode needed.
  • 50:40: Dancy touches on why they filmed every season expecting it to be their last.
  • 53:10: Fuller recalls when and how he landed on the Season 3 ending which ultimately became the series finale.
  • 56:00: Dancy and Fuller discuss how the music on Hannibal was basically another character on the show, plus how the music was made of sounds Dancy didn’t think were possible.
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    Image via NBC

    1:06:20: Fuller discusses how he went about shaping each season of Hannibal, and just how collaborative a process it was. Plus, he recalls how the direction of the pilot led Fuller to scrap the next four episodes he’d written and ultimately changed the show for the better.

  • 1:12:30: Fuller goes into detail about why it was so beneficial to be working with a team, especially actors, who cared about the show and what they were putting into it as much as the behind-the-scenes team cared.
  • 1:20:35: Dancy shouts out the toughest scene for his to get through — and it includes Lawrence Fishburne and Raul Esparza.
  • 1:21:21: Fuller details which character from Hannibal Lecter’s past David Bowie would have been asked to play if the show had kept going.
  • 1:24:30: Dancy and Fuller answer a Hannibal fan question from Twitter!
  • 1:28:15: Dancy and Fuller reveal if they took anything from the Hannibal set home
  • 1:30:00: Fuller reveals why the fan-made Hannibal items he’s been sent mean the most to him.

Television