‘Hannibal’: Bryan Fuller Explains Why They Never Tackled ‘Silence of the Lambs’

     August 2, 2020

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The Silence of the Lambs is one of the most iconic horror films ever made. Jonathan Demme directed a sterling adaptation of Thomas Harris‘ crime novel, and Anthony Hopkins instantly became one of the silver screen’s best boogeymen in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. It’s remarkable that anyone ever tried adapting the world of Hannibal again, let alone becoming as similarly iconic.

Welp, Bryan Fuller sure as heck did it! His three-season TV series Hannibal gave us a new Dr. Lecter — Mads Mikkelsen, exceptional — to chew into. And, smartly, it didn’t start with a story we were already oversaturated with. It landed on the relationship between Hannibal and Will Graham, an FBI profiler played by Hugh Dancy. It’s a pleasure to watch these relatively new stories in somewhat familiar worlds…

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Image via MGM

…but still. Wouldn’t it be dope if Hannibal did eventually make it to Silence of the Lambs territory and cast their own Clarice Starling, the FBI trainee who was played in Demme’s film by the Oscar-winning Jodie Foster? In a 90-minute exclusive interview with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub, Fuller explained the legal, studio-politics-saturated reasons why their show, produced and funded in part by the Dino de Laurentiis Company and Gaumont International Television, could never touch the Silence of the Lambs world, owned by MGM — using quite the delightful analogy to boot.

Silence of the Lambs is owned by MGM. What happened early on and why there was sort of a sticking point for us with the Clarice rights is that MGM was originally working on a deal with Martha De Laurentiis that had everything in one package, and then Gaumont came along and offered Martha a significantly greater deal that MGM couldn’t match. So there’s been a little bit of animosity between the studios because MGM’s like, ‘Hey, you were gonna do it with us,’ and she was like, ‘Yeah, but you didn’t give me the better deal,’ and they were kind of upset about that. So that’s why it’s been sort of a sticking point to try to get the Clarice rights because they were like, ‘Why would we help you when you…’ They’re basically Bill Pullman in Sleepless in Seattle.

For those in need of context: Bill Pullman is engaged to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle, before Ryan leaves those consistent-but-boring arms for the more romantic Tom Hanks. And now I’m less interested in a Silence of the LambsHannibal crossover than I am a Sleepless in SeattleHannibal crossover.

For more on Hannibal, here’s everything we know about a potential season 4 and Bryan Fuller explaining the fight to cast Mads Mikkelsen over John Cusack or Hugh Grant. Look for Steve’s full 90-minute interview very soon.

Television