HANNIBAL EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Bryan Fuller - Plus New Trailer

HANNIBAL EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Bryan Fuller - Plus New Trailer

Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter makes his TV series debut on April 4th at 10PM on NBC. In this exclusive interview, executive producer Bryan Fuller provides some indications of how this prequel to the events of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs will play out.

Interview by and copyright Edward Gross

Bryan Fuller is a genuine genre fan who lives and breathes this stuff, and seems genuinely thrilled by the opportunity he gets to build creative castles in this particular sandbox. That seems especially true of the April 4th-debuting Hannibal. The series stars Hugh Dancy as FBI profiler Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter.

Fuller first appeared on the scene as the writer of a couple of episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which led to his serving as a writer/producer on the next Trek series, Voyager. In 2002 he wrote the TV movie version of Stephen King’s Carrie, before going on to serve as writer/creator of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and the still-missed Pushing Daisies. Additionally, he served as an integral writer/producer of Heroes, and integral is not a word thrown around lightly – one can literally see a change in the show that took place once Fuller departed, his absence upsetting what must have been a perfect confluence of writers because things were never the same (not that you’d get the writer himself to even consider such a notion).

In the following interview, Fuller offers some insight into the evolution of Hannibal, which has a 10-episode commitment.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: Last summer you did a presentation at Comic-Con on Hannibal and Mockingbird Lane. How crazy was that experience?

BRYAN FULLER: It’s nuts, but in a great way because it’s really the first early adapters of pop culture. That’s a lot of fun to have them be the first people to see the show, because they really are the niche audience. I love a niche audience. People say, “Nobody watched Dead Like Me or Wonderfalls,” and I was, like, “Oh, no, they watched, it was just a small audience.” It’s such a niche world at Comic-Con and I’m a niche writer, so it fits together well.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: But you’re a niche writer who keeps getting network deals. What’s up with that?

BRYAN FULLER: I don’t know, I keep pulling the wool over their eyes one way or the other. They know that it’s different, but there’s votes of confidence that are nice.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: On the subject of Hannibal, what the hell is it with serial killers?

BRYAN FULLER: I think people have been fascinated with serial killers for a while. It’s not so much as an influx of serial killer stories, it’s about the inversion of the crime procedural. We’ve been living with our CSI’s and Law & Order for 20 or 30 years of crime procedural television, and looking at it then from an anti-hero perspective is a way of freshening up the storytelling and, for me, with the Hannibal project, when I was first told they were considering making it, I love those Thomas Harris books. There’s so much real estate in there that hasn’t been covered in any of the films, so personally I was of the mind, “There’s a treasure trove in those books that we can dig out and tell stories with.” I was really excited about going back to the source, and that source was the big inspiration for a lot of these crime shows. Thomas Harris really coined this genre of crime-procedural and the success of Silence of the Lambs and when Manhunter came out in 1986, that’s when you saw a lot of crime procedurals. That’s when the genre got a big push with people saying, “Look at this Michael Mann movie that’s so gorgeous and stylized, and we can bring a crime procedural to television.” So many different incarnations of those characters really all go back to Thomas Harris’ novels. I feel that unlike all of those other shows, Hannibal has a bullet proof bond that we’re going back to the source; we’re less derivative because we’re going back the original inspiration. That may sound like a bullshit excuse, but that’s what I’m telling myself.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: There’s that much material in the book that you feel the series can be inspired by?

BRYAN FULLER: Oh, yes, absolutely. In Red Dragon there’s five pages or so of back story where Will Graham says these are the things that happened to me in my past and this is my kind of confluence with Hannibal Lecter. We took those events and those references and made them a whole series. We know from the book that Will Graham was psychologically incapacitated when he captured a serial killer known as the Minnesota Shrike, Garrett Jacob Hobbs. That’s all we knew. So we got to craft what kind of killer Garrett Jacob Hobbs was, how that would have the impact on Will Graham and how that would bring Hannibal Lecter into the story in an organic way. So it’s about finding these great tent poles that exist in the book. There are scenes in the pilot that I lifted right from Red Dragon and put in there, so it was, like, “Thank you, Thomas Harris.” It was also to make sure that his DNA was in the show in genuine, authentic and respectful way.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: Are Will and Hannibal adversaries at this point?

BRYAN FULLER: What the history was, and we have a minor kind of buy, is that Will Graham was so damaged by the Hobbs case that he went into therapy and he was institutionalized. When he came out, he crossed paths with Hannibal Lecter and we’re shoring up that timeline so that when he goes into therapy to deal with this damage, that’s when Hannibal Lecter comes into his life. So we get him into a room earlier together, but the rest of the events take place as they’ve kind of been laid out in the Thomas Harris books and the mythology of those two characters and how they met. We’re slightly adjusting it to accommodate for our story, but it’s very authentic. We’re making sure that all of the elements happen. We have crafted a 13-episode season that is so intricately woven with all of these characters and the moves that they make, that it really was like sitting down at a chess board and saying, “Okay, we’ve got to get our pawns across the board, sacrifice and get our knights into order so we can really tell this story at a certain point.” I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in really crafting a season of storytelling.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: I’m not trying to reduce what you’re saying with the comparison, but is it like Smallville in the sense of Clark and Lex meet each other, they’re not enemies right away but there’s a gradual realization as that dichotomy becomes apparent between them.

BRYAN FULLER: I think that’s an appropriate comparison, because with those shows – even with Clone Wars where you get to say, “Oh, it’s Greedo and he’s out with the gang before he got shot by Han Solo – who shot him first.” So there is that kind of fun where you’ve seen these characters, and now here’s a whole story that you get to see that is as intricately woven and told as the stories you’ve already seen, but it’s television so we have more real estate to tell a much more complex, emotional story.

TV SERIAL KILLERS: So it will take time, but they will become enemies.

BRYAN FULLER: Season one is the bromance, season two is the ugly break-up.
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