Hypable attended the Hannibal press conference at San Diego Comic-Con where Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy spoke about Will and Hannibal’s reunion and what may be the end.
Hannibal‘s Ballroom 20 panel, known as the “Pannibal,” was followed by a press conference with creator Bryan Fuller, executive producer Martha De Laurentiis, and stars Hugh Dancy and Richard Armitage.
Losing the procedural: Ripping the spine out
Hypable’s first question was about whether the procedural element of the series, used heavily in seasons one and two, was something Fuller and Dancy now felt the loss of, or if that “murder of the week” aspect had been merely the means to an end.
Dancy remarked, “In some ways I suppose playing characters in this world that could be so floating, occasionally being tethered down was not such a bad thing.” But the procedural format is not always an actor’s friend. Dancy continued, “Having really worked to figure out who [Will Graham] was and what was underlying all his angst and so on, there were only so many ways I could be emotionally affected by these [procedural] crimes.”
Dancy went on to point out that Hannibal may not have succeeded if they kept to a strict formula. He continued, “Bryan’s writing is always emotional…trying to find the emotional response of the character to that felt like it could have become a bit forced had we had to continue in [a procedural].”
Bryan Fuller had some perspective from the writers room to offer saying, “[The procedural format] was a spine to a lot of the storytelling and when we jerked that spine out of the body, like Predator, it kind of left us with this slightly amorphous, yet emotionally sound psychological tale.”
Without having “a body to drop” or the added work of constructing a “metaphor of the death tableaux” week by week, Fuller had the chance to dive into what he loves most about the adaptation– the source material. Fuller explained, “It was fun for me as somebody who loves the pretension in Thomas Harris’ writing. And it’s so beautiful, and purple, and articulate that I wanted [season 3] to smack of Thomas Harris in a way that we hadn’t in the first two seasons.”
The heart of Will and Hannibal’s season 3 reunion
The biggest moment in season 3 thus far has certainly been the highly anticipated non-fantasy reunion between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Hypable wanted to know, what weight and expectations went into that reunion from a creative standpoint? What did the show need to achieve in that moment?
Dancy tackled the question first, saying “[The reunion] had to accomplish a huge amount. It had to explain why Will had been on this looping path to get back to Hannibal when, in some sense, I felt like he probably could have found him in a day… The first half of the show, for myself, felt like a quest of sorts. [Their meeting] gives a sense of what the purpose of that quest had been, even if he didn’t know when he set off.”
Fuller went on to remark that it was truly a team effort to bring that scene to the screen. He added, “It’s a great example of how fantastic Hugh is to collaborate with. There’s a lot of dialogue in that scene where Hugh was saying, ‘I feel like Will would be saying that he feels responsible for every crime that Hannibal has committed, for every crime that he will commit, because he’s gotten so close to that.'”
After hearing this, Fuller noted, “It was so great to hear that from a creative storytelling partner. I was like, ‘That’s going in the script.'”
Martha De Laurentiis noted her favorite moment in that scene took place just seconds before both men shared the screen. De Laurentiis said, “I love the etching of the Primavera because you have Will Graham’s face and Bedelia’s face.”
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Badass female characters
In response to Alana Bloom’s character undergoing a transformation in season 3, Fuller explained, “It was really about owing Caroline [Dhavernas] more than what we gave her in the second season. She became ‘the girlfriend…’ When I sat with the writers for season 3 the first thing I said to the writers was, ‘It is our mission to make Alana the most interesting character.'”
Credit where credit is due: Fanfiction and fandom
Where would Hannibal be without fanfiction? The answer, it would not exist. “The show is fanfiction. I’m a huge Thomas Harris fan. It’s not a literal adaptation, even though so much of the literature does make it into the show. It is relatable to that community that is fanfiction writers and storytellers,” explained Fuller.
The fanfiction and fan art the show inspires does not put him off. Fuller said, “I respect when they twist it around in strange and interesting ways.”
The Red Dragon is coming
Well before NBC cancelled the series, Fuller knew the end of Hannibal might arrive at any time. This lead him to push for the Red Dragon story arc before it was too late.
Richard Armitage, the Red Dragon himself, commented that other adaptations have only given us 90 minutes with the killer, and that we can expect a much more in-depth look. “[Hannibal‘s take] is a real chance to go to that book which is incredibly detailed and look at the backstory of where Francis Dolarhyde came from, how he’s emerged as this strange man who’s complicated and dark, and at the same time innocent and romantic.”
A satisfying ending?
Fuller and Dancy both agreed that season 3’s ending would be a satisfying conclusion to the series. Dancy elaborated by adding, “If it had to it could, it would be satisfying in that respect. It could also serve as a jumping off point for another season.”
But what would season 4 look like?
“A reinvention of the Hannibal/Will Graham dynamic in a huge way,” Fuller said. No matter what that means, we’re positive that the fannibals want to see it.
Watch the full press conference here.
Additional reporting by Brittany Lovely.