Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to meet with some of the cast and crew of NBC's Hannibal during Comic-Con. With the showdown at the end of Season 2 leaving viewers anxious for more episodes, Hannibal's producers shed some light on their plans for Season 3, including the return of a familiar face that we had previously assumed to be dead.
Warning: These interviews contain major spoilers if you have not already seen the Season 2 Finale.
Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy were unfortunately unable to attend Comic-Con this year. Nonetheless, many individuals involved with the show made an appearance, including director David Slade, executive producer Martha DeLaurentiis, writer Steve Lightfoot, show creator and writer Bryan Fuller, Caroline Dhavernas (Dr. Alana Bloom), Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller), Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price), and surprise panel guest Raúl Esparza (Dr. Chilton).
On directing the Season 2 finale:
David Slade: The fight sequence was completely Tim Hunter, who did the first 2 episodes of this season, so I inherited that material. In fact, what I will say proudly is that there were four directors who had their fingers on the final episode. Tim had a bit of that fight and I shot everything around that fight- I shot Lawrence walking in, everything up to the moment they start. And we have an amazing second unit director Chris Byrne, who shot a couple of sequences. Second unit is a thing that happens a lot in television where you just don’t have time so, if there’s a way for someone to go back and do a better version of the food or whatever it is then I’m all for it.
On Bryan fuller tackling Thomas Harris' characters:
Martha DeLaurentiis: When I told Thomas (Harris) that I was thinking about doing [the show], he said to me, "I don’t know anyone who could write it; I don’t think anyone in Hollywood could write it." He was sincere, because it’s off the reservation in the beginning. It’s not the books that he had written. So what Bryan was so smart in doing was taking the cannon of the movies and the literature and just mashing it up, doing a beautiful job in crafting a storyline and the bromance, the relationships and taking the characters that were established already by Thomas.
You portray a lot of grisly, yet creative, murders on the show. Where do you get the inspiration to create these murder scenes?
Steve Lightfoot: There’s a bunch of us in the writer’s room, so it’s different people for different things. For the Tree Man, there was a painting that Bryan had seen in a gallery that was organs as plants and that was spun out of that. The Totem Pole came out of a story we wanted to tell. I can’t remember exactly how it worked, but we couldn’t find the image for it. And then we just went off and read some stuff on totem poles. It was about a man who wanted to display his work and what totem poles meant, and the idea of shame poles so we go to mythology. There's also a lot of riffing off movie references and then some real life stuff where you’d think that would never happen, but then someone would go online and say, "yeah actually this did happen in… Austria."
In the writer’s room, how much research do you have to do to medically justify what's been done to the corpses?
Steve Lightfoot: We do as much as we can and try and keep it within the realms of possibility. But I think with Hannibal, the show has been emotionally very real and true and we’re very real to the effects of violence and with working with violence around people. But I also think there is a heightened, fantastical element to the show, so would bees grow out of some guy’s head? I don’t know, but it was really cool and we sort of loved the image. It makes the show different to a lot of other 'catch the killer' shows, and I also think it gives us license for the level of horror because we not just seeing someone get stabbed twenty times. When someone has been turned into a tree, the audience can remove themselves from it and sort of enjoy the beauty of it rather than feeling like that could happen to them.
With Hannibal now on the run, how do you plan to keep alive the food aspect part of the show?
Bryan Fuller: Well, we have the mind palace and we talked a lot about once he is incarcerated, how do we keep the aesthetic of the show? So we just don’t see Mads Mikkelsen in ‘tighty whitey’s’ in a prison cell. And a big part of that is going to be the mind palace, of course, and probably utilizing a flashback structure so we can keep having that present. And also to see how his culinary expertise has infected other characters on the show as a result of their exposure to him.
Have you decided on a theme for titles of the next season?
Bryan Fuller: Italian. The fun for us is that Italy plays a big part in the novel Hannibal. We’re going to be doing a lot of that book in unexpected ways in Season 3. It’s kind of taking his escape from Silence of the Lambs and moving up that whole story so it’s not 20 years later that Mason Verger is waiting for his revenge. We have him [Michael Pitt who plays Mason Verger] in episodes if his schedule permits and if he wants to come back, because also he’s very busy. It’s a matter of whether we can carve out days together.
What can you tell us about Dr. Alana Bloom at the start of Season 3?
Caroline Dhavernas: I’m told I’m going back. I don’t know what I state I’m gonna be in because I did fall out a window. Am I gonna be all broken, quadriplegic, dead and in someone’s dreams… I don’t know, but I am coming back. I think I’ll be able to walk and talk- hopefully. I know that she will be changed by what happened to her because she's in complete utter shock and I think she doesn’t know if she can trust her instincts anymore, which is probably going to be a lot harder.
What direction do you think she’ll take herself? Do you think she feel guilty and blame herself or be out for revenge?
Caroline Dhavernas: I think she’ll probably go in that direction. Women do, in general, feel a lot of guilt. She’s probably mad at herself, feeling a little angry that she also got in the way of the investigation because she was always defending him and protecting him.
Why do you think Alana was the last person to see Hannibal for who he really is?
Caroline Dhavernas: Because she knew him before she knew anyone else. He was her mentor and her teacher and also because he’s very solid, he’s like a rock. Will was so shaky, like a roller coaster, and Jack is also behaving in his own interests all the time. I think, in comparison with the other characters, he was kinda like a solid boat, and it probably felt very soothing to be around. He’s also very good at hiding stuff, and he didn’t even have to come to her, she went to him… he’s that brilliant that he just lets the world come to him.
On working with Mads Mikkelsen:
Caroline Dhavernas: He is intense. He’s wonderful and he’s very passionate about his work. I've never seen him complain about being there, about being cold and God knows they’ve put him through the ringer. He’s just a wonderful co-star and a wonderful person to be around, and the most talented actor right now I think in the generation. So just to be working with him is such a blessing. I was a fan of his before I worked on the show. I watched a lot of his Danish films and I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out I would be working with him.
Raul Esparza was the surprise guest for the panel where he announced his return to the series, in spite of being shot in the face.
Raúl Esparza: I am alive! I have no idea what state I’m in, but I did tell Bryan that if I come back, I want to be as Cronenbergian as possible, like Ed Harris History of Violence bad. I don’t think he was sure he wanted to announce that Chilton was back at first, and then he decided yeah lets go for it. I mean, I knew that I wasn’t dead because, if you’ve read the stories, Chilton becomes Hannibal’s tormentor, which is what I was really looking forward to. And I was like, you can’t take that away from me, man. But I think he finally wanted to make an official announcement. I never expected that response, I was like who cares if Chilton’s back, and the audience is losing their minds. And I’m like wow, they love me.
You can view the blooper reel below, which played during Hannibal's Comic-Con panel (thanks to EW!):