With Hannibal Season 3 premiering tonight on NBC, we recently participated in an interview call with Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller, who teased what we can expect to see this season, including Bedelia and Hannibal's relationship and much more.

Bryan on the relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) in season three:

Bryan Fuller: Well, really it kind of boils down to this fabulousness of Gillian Anderson and more of her is always a good thing. And we had so much fun working together in the first two seasons and she’s such an iconic actress and brings such a specific energy to the show that it seems like a really logical next step for the series to flush out that relationship expanded and get more of the chemistry between Mads Mikkelsen and Gillian Anderson.

There is a genuine connection between Bedelia and Hannibal. It’s different than the connection between Will and Hannibal as Bedelia states at one point in the season that Will’s relationship with Hannibal is a much more passionate one than her relationship with Hannibal.

Yet, they have an intimacy that goes beyond the psychiatrist-patient relationship, yet I would say at its core Bedelia will always be Hannibal’s therapist first.

And I wanted to make sure with her portrayal in the role that she did not all of a sudden become one of those women who write to serial killers in prison thinking that they can change the man and make him a better person because of their love. She is absolutely not on that course and she knows exactly who she’s dealing with. And I love the turns in this season where we see Bedelia, particularly in Episode 6, on what she’s done and also illustrate that she’s had a plan all along and she’s no dummy.

Bryan touched on one of his favorite scenes from season three:

Bryan Fuller: Oh boy, there’s quite a few in this season. One of the most fun things about this season is the departure from the crime procedural storytelling and this first chapter of Season 3 was really designed to do the show as a pure character-driven story.

And in adopting these books, there are so many lines that Thomas Harris has written that I’ve better-sized and put into actors’ mouths and I’m always surprised how they elevate them and ground them and make them their own in context of the story.

So far as the favorite scene with that, there’s a dinner scene in Episode 7. There are many scenes before that I adore, but there is a particularly fun dinner scene in Episode 7 that Mason Verger is hosting that I’m excited for people to see because it’s laugh-out-loud funny and Joe Anderson is so infectious in his portrayal of Mason Verger stepping in for Michael Pitt. He has brought so much of his own energy to the role but also marking the interpretation by Gary Oldman in the Ridley Scott film. So I’m excited for people to see that scene in particular because I think it’s one of our best dinner scenes that we’ve ever filmed.

On the potential for key character deaths in the aftermath of the "nasty breakup" between Will Graham and Hannibal:

Bryan Fuller: I think it’s always wise to be concerned about the main characters in the show. If not for the immortality, for their psychological well-being and one of the fun things in developing this season is that everyone who survived the Red Dinner of the Season 2 finale has been broken and reborn in a way that has shifted their perspective. So there’s certain things with key characters where we get to see them transformed into new versions of themselves and yes, you should absolutely be worried for Will Graham and the steps that he takes to resolve his relationship with Hannibal.

If the first season was the bromance and the second season was the nasty breakup, the third season is really that point in the relationship where you’re looking back at what you’ve lost and still needing a point of closure for that relationship and how drastic that point of closure is will be a major part of Will Graham’s arc in this season.

On Richard Armitage's season three performance as Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy:

Bryan Fuller: Well, there have been a couple of great performances as Francis Dolarhyde. Tom Noonan in Manhunter is a strange man who breaks your heart because you really get a feel for how desperately he actually needed this human connection and how it may have actually saved him from himself and the great Red Dragon.

He [Richard Armitage] approached the character with such gravitas and earnestness that the tragedy of the story is really one that we wanted to bring to the forefront because the arc in the Red Dragon chapter of the season is very much a trouble between Hannibal and Will and Francis Dolarhyde, because Dolarhyde represents something unique in the triangulation of Hannibal and Will, and he provides Will Graham a version of Hannibal that he may be able to save and provides Hannibal a version of Will Graham that he may be able to corrupt.

So each of them is getting something dynamic out of that relationship and we get to see how the triangulation through Dolarhyde changes the relationship between Will and Hannibal in a drastic way.

I can’t talk enough about Richard’s presence on this production and how masterful he was, how he surprised the crew, how he elevated the material, how we brought that sense of tragedy to Francis Dolarhyde in a way that was both accessible and sheer madness. In editing the different episodes, I’ve been in the post suite with an editor and watching scenes between Richard and Rutina Wesley, who plays Reba McClane—the object of his affection—and we were both wiping tears out of the corners of our eyes because he is just so heartbreaking.

One of the things that I wanted to challenge the audience with is, yes, this is a horrible killer of families, yet he is so tortured by his madness that I wanted to confuse people with their sympathy for him and the revulsion by him and really deliver a different kind of serial killer story that you don’t see on television that often.

On how much of the material from Thomas Harris' Red Dragon we can expect to see in season three, in addition to elements from Harris' other Hannibal Lecter novels:

Bryan Fuller: There are two chapters in Season 3. There’s kind of Hannibal the novel mashed up with Hannibal Rising the novel, first chapter, that's set primarily in Italy. And then the second chapter that begins with Episode 8 starts the Red Dragon story. And that is using six episodes to tell a broader, more in-depth version of the story than we’ve been allowed to see previously in the film adaptation just simply because of the real estate that we have in six hours that they didn’t have in two hours.

So the fun for us is really making that last—it’s almost like a Red Dragon miniseries in the last half of the season and we tell that story to completion and find ways to weave in our existing characters and change up some of the dynamics that you may have been familiar with in the novels or the films and shifting them around so they feel fresh. And once again, the approach with this show has always been 'provide some familiarity and then shake it up', so the audience that may be familiar with the previous adaptations is getting a new experience that is somewhat familiar mashed up with the new incarnations of characters that we’ve developed on the show. So you’ll get a nice, fat, six-hour Red Dragon miniseries at the end of Season 3.

On whether or not Bedelia is basically the TV series version of Clarice Starling:

Bryan Fuller: No. That’s an interesting question because in that novel we see Clarice being brainwashed, but the big question is how much is she in control of her own actions, but she surrenders to the control of Hannibal Lecter in the novel. And for our purposes, I always wanted Bedelia to be driving her own story. So it would have been very easy for us to say Bedelia has been brainwashed and this is why she has gone off into this adventure with Hannibal Lecter, but the more interesting route for me as a storyteller is for that strong female character being in charge of her own story with her own drive, with her own curiosities about the human condition and a lot of what she’s doing is for her own edification. And that was a very important point for us to make with that storyline, because I feel like we would be doing the actress and the character a disservice if we just made her a drug-induced pawn of Hannibal Lecter’s plot.

So we very much did not want to tell that story even though we are looking at telling that story in a different way in this series eventually.

On how the FBI and Jack Crawford will fit into this season's storylines:

Bryan Fuller: Well, the challenges were to keep our FBI personnel integrated into the story. And the first half of the season it was really about finding ways for this story to be personal to Jack Crawford and how he is functioning outside of the FBI.

But it was really about doing what we were doing with all of the other characters, which was finding the personal connection for them to the story that exists outside of their occupation and for Jack, since he had gone down this journey and recruited Will Graham and lost Will Graham and found Will Graham again and is now worried if he's lost him forever, that gave him a very intimate connection to the storyline that we could unpack as opposed to having him in the FBI looking at evidence.

And, of course, in the second half of this season, which is a six-hour Red Dragon miniseries, the FBI has woven in more naturally because that is an active investigation and a return to the crime procedural but in a way that you don’t often get on network television. We are looking at one case over six episodes as opposed to one case per episode and having a killer of the week, which was a bit of our format in the first two seasons, which was a lot of fun and we got to do some really wild, dysmorphic things with the human body and our storytelling.

But what a great relief it is to focus solely on characters as somebody who loves to write character, first and foremost, and has always resisted the crime procedural aspects of the story.

Yet now, with the first chapter in Italy, it’s all about the characters and them resolving their issues from the first two seasons, moving on into new issues and new complicated relationships.

On whether or not a young lady at Quantico in an early episode of Hannibal was Clarice Starling and how he'd like to cast Clarice in the future:

Bryan Fuller: We had talked about 'is this her class? Is this Clarice Starling’s class?' And there was the motivation there to hint at a Clarice-type character. But also there was a little bit of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark with Will Graham being such a charmer in his own strange way that he was eliciting that response from his student as well.

We talk about Clarice quite a bit on the show. And as you may know, there are certain rights issues tangled up in it. But if we do ever tell Clarice Starling’s story, it might be interesting to change ethnicities on Clarice and get a different perspective of a southern young woman’s experience and put race as a component in that woman’s view of the world. Race is oftentimes a tricky subject just because it makes some people cringe. But I think it is absolutely a defining trait of people and characters and fictions.

So part of me wants to do a Clarice that would be a non-white Clarice and have a different angle into that story that gives it layers that we haven’t seen because it’s going to be really hard to top Jodie Foster. I’m hoping that if we ever do that, we don’t cast a white actress. But if we do, I hope it’s somebody like Ellen Page.

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    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.