I don’t know about you, but Hannibal has become one of my all time favourite shows on TV. And I don’t even like horror/gore! Not at all.
What the creator Bryan Fuller, the writers, directors and the genius art direction have brought to this medium has just changed my whole position on horror. It is a masterpiece.
Though not easily obtained in Australia and hidden on channels at strange hours, I have managed to watch the full season twice. Thank you to the trend of the “encore screening” – which I think might have been introduced as the networks wondered why people were missing the first showings at 11:17pm Wednesday nights despite all of the no advertising they had done to explain they moved it from the original 9:30pm Monday…
The show places the viewer in the Silence of the Lambs universe made famous by Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 thriller “The Silence of the Lambs”, during the earlier Red Dragon time period. Lecter is free, unknown to the police and in the advantageous position of FBI advisor and psychiatrist.
Most viewers of the series would be familiar with the books and movies from the Silence universe, which makes the whole idea of suspense and mystery a different beast. If you already know what is going to happen, how can it be exciting, entertaining and suspenseful?
Oh it is. So very much all of those things.
During this years Comic Con San Diego, I found myself in the fortunate position to be interviewing Brian Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy.
Hannibal has been described by some as sick, how would you respond to this?
“It’s sick, but it’s also surreal so I don’t look at it as reality. I couldn’t write it if it were about dramatising a serial killer who is raping and murdering women, that’s no fun for me. What’s fun for me is when it gets purple, when it is so big that it isn’t about reality. It’s about surrealism and storytelling and being inspired by such a pop culture phenomenon as Hannibal Lector.“
What would you describe as the main theme of the upcoming season two?
“The nasty breakup. Season two is the nasty breakup of the bromance. One of the things I am most excited about is that we told the story of Will Graham’s descent into madness in the first season and it was fun to see him hit rock bottom. When any human hits rock bottom, their only choice is to go up and he is going to go up swinging. I am excited to see what Hugh Dancy does with the character now that he is scrappier, feistier and pissed off that somebody set him up.”
Does he know who/why?
“He knows from the end of the first season. He understood in that moment and that isn’t to say that he doesn’t have doubt, as he has no proof, but the fun is the process of answering those questions.”
What’s something special you can tell us about season two?
“We will see human sushi”
Has the network ever had to tell you to pull back on the horror/gore?
“There have only been a couple of times where the network has made us pull back. We had the blood angels that we were pushing in this great cinematic shot. They were nude, so you could see their butt cracks. NBC said that we couldn’t show their butt cracks. So we said to them, what if we cover the buttcracks with blood? They said, yeah, that will be fine.”
Hannibal is almost art. What techniques do you use to produce the amazing visual experience?
“Midtone contrast. That is something that we introduce a lot of. Sharpening is something that we do. We work at a very, very shallow depth of field, which you know, I think some people find that way of working very difficult. Yes, it is difficult, but it is important. We want to put the focus here and have you be afraid of what could be here, because you can’t see it because it is out of focus. This language is going to remain through the series from episode one right through to the end. It becomes a constant.”
“Blacken rather than lighten, take away light. Make the audience come forward. Bring them to the edge of their seat and keep them there.”
How has the journey been in becoming Will Graham?
“It’s been great. I knew what I was getting into. It’s dark and it’s crazy, but it is enjoyable and well written. I’m working with great actors and directors, so the overarching feeling is one of satisfaction. Great job satisfaction.
It appears that the role is very physically taxing, despite a lack of physical content. Do you feel that way?
“I think he is carrying around a lot of stress. A lot of fear and things aren’t normally easy for will. I think there is something very tiring about that.”
Did you do anything special to research the role?
“I started by reading Red Dragon. Obviously. In a way, with a character like this, you can’t ask for more than a writer like Thomas Harris giving you a 300 page detailed description about the inside of his head. The secondary reading was the kind of people that Harris based his characters on. The people that pioneered behavioural science as an investigative tool.”
“Then beyond that, I thought about where on the spectrum Will lives. This spectrum of information. Like the opposite of an autistic person.”
Hannibal returns for season two in 2014. I can’t wait!
– Matt Byrne