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SDCC 2014: ‘Hannibal’ Press Room

Megan Miller ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Plenty of the cast and crew showed up for Hannibal’s SDCC panel, sans the two main leads, both of whom were out of the country.

The first question that everyone answered was whether or not they were amazed by what the show gets away with. Actors seemed to agree that Hannibal essentially puts the content of a cable show on network television, and this content is allowed because it’s done respectfully and has emotional impact rather than using the gore of the show for shock value. The creators, on the other hand, discussed the extensive process that they go through with NBC to make sure that nothing they write and film goes beyond what they would be allowed to show on a network channel.

Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller) and Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price) talked about their futures on the show jokingly; still in pre-production, the duo don’t know too much about what’s in store, but they claimed that they were the only ones who live and the rest of the show features the two of them roaming the countryside, solving murders. Thompson discussed the mention of his character’s twin, and how much he’d love that to come up again so he could play both, while Abrams commented that a second Price would be his “worst nightmare”.

They also discussed the notion of a current “Golden Age” of television, and how shows have more story-telling. Television can only get better, whereas movies seem to be on a decline. Things like comic cons can only add to this, because they’re ways to connect to specific audiences and to give back to fans.

Raul Esparza (Dr. Frederick Chilton) talked about the newfound sympathy that his character received this season; he said that he knows he’s playing the part right when he’s uncomfortable in his own skin, and that he found that the way into the sympathetic part of Chilton was through humor. He loves how the character thinks he’s so much smarter than he is; the audience is ten steps ahead, but he’s desperate and still believes that he’s brilliant.

He also commented that he loved getting to coin “Hannibal the Cannibal” in the show, and told stories about the food preparation on set, and how they’re never sure whether it’s supposed to be human or animal. Esparza also discussed Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter), calling him “one of the kindest, funniest, gentlest people” he’s worked with or met—and mentioned that Mikkelsen absolutely relishes playing the part.

Caroline Dhavernas (Alana Bloom) talked about the future for her character, after she’d been pushed out of the window; she doesn’t quite know where Alana will be when the show picks up again, but the character will be a totally changed woman. Hannibal was her rock, so after the epiphany of who Hannibal is, Alana might be a lot harder this season. She says that they’ll start shooting in October, and the beginning of the season follows Hannibal exclusively.

Dhavernas explained that Bryan Fuller, the creator and showrunner, is always open to hearing input from the actors and adjusting characters based on their comments; the conversation between Hannibal and Alana in bed about sex and funerals came from a conversation she had with Fuller about life after death.

Steven Lightfoot, one of the writers, gave some input on the writing on the show and the relationship with the fans. He explained that as there are six or seven writers in any writer’s room meeting, the sadistic qualities of the show cannot be blamed on one person. Writer’s rooms are an engine for storytelling. He added that they pull a lot of things from Thomas Harris’ original books about the cannibalistic therapist, especially the “spirit of the killers”.

He said that he’s never worked on a show that had as strong of a fanbase as Hannibal does, and that the creativity within the fanbase in amazing. Sometimes he reads their discussions of past episodes and thinks that “I wish I had meant that!” and that the response to the show is humbling.

The creator of the show, Bryan Fuller, gave the final word. This season, the characters are “off the reservation”: they’re away from the FBI, and Will’s pursuit of Hannibal is almost Frankenstein-esque. Hannibal created a monster, and now it’s coming for him.

After the season finale, all of the characters are changed, which he says instills a great sense of energy in the writers. The whole first episode of the third season focuses on Hannibal and Bedalia Du Maurier’s backstory with Bedalia’s dead patient. Bedalia (Gillian Anderson) isn’t stupid, and she is driving her own story, so their dynamic (and control of their relationship) will shift back and forth.

He addressed some of the colorful language from this season; some of it comes directly from Harris’ source material. He also talked about Beverly Katz’ death, a widely criticized part of this past season, and insisted that it was part of the organic flow of the story. However, he did admit to crying while he wrote it, in part because of the strong presence of Hettienne Park on the cast, but said that it had to happen for the story.

He also revealed that they are currently in contract negotiations to make Anderson a season regular, and said that they’ll be bringing in more characters directly from Red Dragon, such as Lady Murasaki. And speaking of Red Dragon, there will be a new aspect of the Will and Hannibal relationship that comes from the book, dealing with how Will views Hannibal during that storyline.

Fuller is also adapting Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods this year, and says that it won’t film at the same time as Hannibal. He also added that that adaptation will be more faithful to the source material, versus Hannibal, which is more faithful to the spirit of the original novels.

The last thing he discussed was the relationship with the fans; he explained that without the fans, they probably wouldn’t have had a third season. Because the show is an adaptation, it is essentially fanfiction, and addressed the show’s fans as “colleagues”. He says that he is a “big geek” when it comes to Comic Con as well, and even if he wasn’t here for the show, he would attend anyway, because at the heart of it he is also a fan.

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