Bryan Fuller On ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, A ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Reboot and ‘American Gods’
One of television’s goriest and most cinematic (b)romances came to an end this year when the Season 3 finale of Hannibal served as the series finale. It felt like a suitable ending when (spoiler alert) Hugh Dancy’s Will and Mad Mikkelsen’s Hannibal killed the Red Dragon together, then embraced and fell off a cliff. It was gloriously bloody, emotional and gorgeous, all the elements that made Hannibal one of the most stunning and daring shows on network TV.
Although both Netflix and Amazon passed on reviving the series, creator Bryan Fuller still has hope and many ideas for his design of Hannibal’s future. In celebration of the Season 3 DVD release, which is loaded with special features, I talked to Fuller over the phone to look back on the season and the series. He discussed his plans to relaunch the show with a Silence of the Lambs remake, the chances of his own Hannibal movie and his initial idea for Season 4 (get excited Hannigram fans). Bon appétit!
It’s been about three months since the finale. You discussed it a lot when it aired, but how does it feel now that it’s been out there for a while?
It’s interesting because it feels like, in my mind, that the story still has chapters to be told, so it feels like the close of a novel. Then perhaps maybe in a couple of years we try to relaunch the show with Mads Mikkelsen playing Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs. There’s so many options down the road, but I think the best option right now is to let the show resonate and perhaps approach things in a British way and take some time off then re-approach.
Is that where the future of the show stands now, that it could be a few years down the line until we see more Hannibal?
Yeah. I think it’s definitely at least two years away.
Is that timing mostly due to your work on American Gods and Amazing Stories? Are those shows the reason behind a delay in relaunching Hannibal or is it more about not having a studio on board to pick it up?
Yes, I definitely have my hands full the next couple of years. And it seems that it’s also good for the story to take a couple of years off because so much will happen.
Would jumping into a Silence of the Lambs reboot ideally be the next step?
I would love it. I would love to see Mads Mikkelsen playing Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs.
You’ve said you’d love to cast Ellen Page as Clarice Starling. Is that still something you’d be interested in?
It’s interesting because looking at how we made certain characters unique to the Hannibal TV series, it would be fascinating to take a look at who Clarice is in a different context as well. So I think if you’re looking for someone who is a version of Clarice that is in the novel, i.e. being white, Ellen Page would be amazing. But there’s also a version of Clarice that is not white, and how that changes the story of the character.
Is there a non-white actress you’d like to cast?
I’d love to discover somebody.
Would you do Silence as a miniseries or could you see it serving as Season 4?
You know it’s hard to say. I think it would be informed by who would want to do it and how it best fits that format.
I heard in Vulture’s TV podcast that you told Matt Zoller Seitz your original idea for Season 4. You said Will and Hannibal would become partners in crime. Is that still something that’s on the table?
You never know! Absolutely, after the season finale, who knows what mental state those two gentlemen would be in if they survived.
If they survived, is the question.
Is there anything you’d go back and change about the finale in retrospect?
You know, I don’t think so. I love how divisive the reaction was to the post-credits tag. It was a thrill and an honor to collaborate with Siouxsie Sioux on an original song for the show, so that was a career highlight for me. I think Richard Armitage and Rutina Wesley were so wonderful as Francis and Rita. And I feel that those final moments with Hannibal and Will were very charged and emotional and confrontational and I felt like a good way to end this chapter. Or end this novel.
Do you have a favorite scene or moment from the season?
Oh god I have so many. There’s so many crazy ones. The scene with Raul Esparza and Richard Armitage with the lip biting was particularly horrific. I loved the scene with Will and Hannibal reuniting in Italy for the first time in the season. I loved the dinner scenes with Gillian [Anderson] and Mads in Italy, all of them just crack me up. So it’s hard to say because I so enjoy these actors and watching them that it’s very easy for me, once the show is locked and finished, to let go of the production experience and watch it as a fan, because I am. So much of this show is fueled with Thomas Harris that it’s not like I’m taking a huge responsibility for what we’re seeing on screen because it just feels like fan fiction to me.
Speaking of the lips scene with Raul Esparza, I read that when you first watched that with a group of people you were laughing at the horror of it.
Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous.
It really is. And you’ve talked a lot about the camp elements of the show. We’re at a moment in TV where camp and horror are having an interesting blend, especially with Ryan Murphy’s shows. But what is it about your formula of mixing humor and gore in Hannibal that you think worked so well?
I think the humor on the show was somewhat literary, so it’d be a turn of phrase or a comedic reaction from the cast. Also an embracing an absurdity of the situation that all of these people are in. I find that there’s inherent humor to that. I would say it’s more vampy than campy, and maybe that’s a distinction.
If and when you bring the show back, will you keep that style and tone?
Oh yeah. I think horror and comedy are back-to-back. They’re so close to each other in terms of how we react to that stimulus.
You’d said before you were working on spinning the show off into a feature film. Is that still a possibility?
It will be something that we discuss when we try to relaunch in a couple years. Like, what is the best format for the story that we want to tell and what is the best possibility to tell a story.
You’ve continued to bring back characters despite torturing them to near-death, especially Dr. Chilton. If you were to bring him back, would you torture him some more or has he had enough at this point?
I think there’s something fascinating about seeing Raul Esparza in burn make-up, modified burn make-up because he’s probably had many grafts by the time we’ll see him again, delivering that speech to Clarice Starling where Baltimore can be a really fun city if you have the right guide, and having a completely different context.
I’d love to see Raul return.
Oh me too. I think it’s imperative.
The special features on the new DVD are a great treat for fans. Do you have a favorite?
Cliff Stephenson who produces our DVDs is such a fantastic collaborator on our show. I would say there’s quite a few that I love. I enjoy Scott Thompson so much that I like his postmortems and I think the “Reimagining the Red Dragon” is a particularly fun one because fans of the book will have each of those interpretations re-contextualized side-by-side. That’s probably my favorite as a Thomas Harris fan.
I love the gag reel and deleted scenes, but I was hoping the footage of Hugh and Mads’ almost-kiss from the finale would be in there.
That’s in one of the documentaries.
Ah, I missed it. But it is in there?
Yes. I’m curious – I think people will have different interpretations of what “almost kiss” means. So I’m curious to see how accurate how that description is once they see it.
One big question I had when I saw the finale post-credits scene was, what recipe was used for Bedelia’s leg?
Oh! I have to ask [food consultant] Janice Poon that because basically our conversation was, it has to look like the most beautiful dish Hannibal Lecter has ever prepared.
Wow. So it was Hannibal who prepared it then?
Oh yeah, yeah. But the fun of it is, people have interpreted it the other way that she cut off her own leg and cooked it herself. And that’s also fun. So I think you can choose your own ending, until you are proven definitely wrong. [Laughs]
I’ve read fans saying they’d want a Hannibal box set of all three seasons. Is that something you’d ever put out, or are you waiting to see if the show gets future seasons before doing so?
I hope there’s a definitive Hannibal collection, so I’m curious to see what new content we could have that would warrant that release.
As in new special features content?
Yeah. It feels like, people like the box sets, but it should come with something a little extra.
Right. Maybe it could come with a recipe set.
That’s a great idea.
With American Gods and Amazing Stories coming up, is there any new things you hope to explore that you didn’t get to explore with Hannibal?
One of the things that I love about American Gods and what I love about working with Michael Green is that we were both raised from a religious backgrounds. He was raised Jewish and I was raised Catholic, and we share a fascination for religious mythology. And of course we worked together on the first season of Heroes, which was all about crafting a different sort of mythology. So I think one of the most exciting things about American Gods for me is working with Michael again.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
A previous version of this article misidentified Cliff Stephenson and Chris Stevenson.
The Hannibal Season 3 DVD is now available.