Anyone hoping that Hannibal‘s Comic-Con appearance would have a big announcement about how the show will continue—after being canceled by NBC, and passed on by Netflix and Amazon—will be disappointed. But Fannibals and press hoping to get a jovial panel and press conference to reward their fandom with a thoughtful Q&A, and a classy wink at cosplay from show creator Bryan Fuller, were richly rewarded. Hugh Dancy (who plays Will Graham) did acknowledge, “It’s very bittersweet being here. I don’t expect to have an experience of this nature ever again. And I’m not saying that with negativity, the whole experience [has been] profound.” But the mood in the air was certainly filled with a gratitude that they were able to do the show as they pleased. And it was hard to be down while Fuller was smiling broadly and cracking jokes while wearing a Star Wars tuxedo.
Dancy and Fuller were joined by Richard Armitage (who will first appear as Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Red Dragon, on the July 23rd episode) and producer Martha Di Laurentiis to talk about the rest of season three, remaining options for season four (or a movie) and Fuller’s choice for Clarice Starling (made famous, of course, by Jodie Foster‘s portrayal in The Silence of the Lambs). We cleaned our plate at the presser, and came back with the following report:
- Di Laurentiis, who owns the rights to all the characters on the show, said she’s been approached by studios who are interested in making a movie. But she’s still taking meetings for television with creator, Bryan Fuller.
- To help Fannibals understand why it’s been so difficult for Hannibal to find a home, Fuller said, “Once NBC passed on a fourth season, that dismantles our international funding. A lot of international channels need the broadcaster to say, ‘This is the American TV drama on this network!’ And that gives them the ability to sell in many regions. Without that we lose the Sony component, and then it’s a domino, because we lose AXN after that and then we lose channels all over the world. We don’t just lose NBC, we lose AXL Latin, AXN Japan, AXN Korea, AXN Brazil, etc. So it’s back to square one to find the proper financial model for the show.”
- Fuller also conceded that locations adds to the difficulty in funding, because maintaining a certain opulence is necessary for the story.
- Fuller noted that NBC gave them everything they could: Jennifer Salke, the president of entertainment at NBC said, “Do everything that you want to do, and I can protect the show as long as you’re above a .5 (audience share). And once we went below a .5 I knew that Jen was not going to be able to protect us from schedulers because no one is going to buy advertising at top dollar for a .5 rating. So we very much thought that this might be our last season, and approached it that way, hoping that we’d be able to get to more.”
- Fuller said Hulu and Yahoo! Screen “haven’t passed yet” on the show. But he also shrugged (in that Star Wars suit) and laughed.
- Both Fuller and Dancy answered “Yes” that this year’s season finale could be a satisfying series finale if it indeed ends there. Dancy (slightly) elaborated, “It will be very satisfying [if we don’t return]. But also it does have a good jumping off point if we are able to continue.” But Fuller said, “the [events of season three] would change the Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Darcy) dynamic in a huge way— which would reinvent the format of how we tell the show [if we got a fourth season].”
- Dancy confirmed that what he’s discussed with Fuller about a possible fourth season or movie, would change the dynamic between Graham and Lecter and “almost return it to the form of the first season, stylistically told differently. But each season has concluded in a way that would be satisfying if that was it.”
- Fuller said that he had an early meeting with the writers to make sure that Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) got the most elaborate story arc for season three. “We owed it to her, since she basically just had the girlfriend role in season two… It is our mission to make Alana the most interesting character on the show. And I want to see how she is reformed.”
- Richard Armitage said you’ll see more of Red Dragon than you’ve ever seen before—and not just because he is frequently shirtless. “There were two movies that spent about 90 minutes on that story, but we have six episodes and the book is incredibly detailed. So we get to look at the backstory and open up that story to include his innocence with his darkness.” Armitage noted that the extensive attention in Harris’ backstory on Francis Dolarhyde’s childhood will anchor some humanity in the Red Dragon. “His story isn’t told in a linear way. You learn of his crimes first, and then retrace where they came from.”
- When Armitage mentioned he hasn’t seen all the episodes yet, Fuller said while he sat in the editing room with an editor he noticed that both wiped a tear away at the same moment during Dolarhyde’s story, “because it’s so heartbreaking: this man is struggling against his insanity in an attempt to find love.”
- Fuller said Armitage and Rutina Wesley (True Blood) have great chemistry, and cracked, “So he killed a few families—you just want them to move on and continue the love!”
- Fuller said, the reason they combined the Italian-set “Hannibal” book with the previous classic, “Red Dragon” is because they were aware that a “scythe was over their heads” concerning ratings. Still, “as someone who loves the pretension in Thomas Harris’ writing, which is so beautiful and articulate, I wanted this season to smack of Thomas Harris in a way that we hadn’t in the first two seasons.”
When asked about a rumor that if they continued Clarice Starling would be introduced, Fuller explained the difficulty in rights—that Martha Di Laurentiis owns the rights to every character who originated in Red Dragon, but MGM still owns the rights to the characters from The Silence of the Lambs—but did say that MGM has moved “from a hard ‘no’, to ‘ask us again later’ to ‘ask us next year.’”
- Fuller said that an actress he would be interested in asking to play Clarice, if that did come to pass, would be Ellen Page. He’d also be interested in potentially changing her race to non-white and “have race play a factor in her character.”
- Fuller, who has begun working on the Neil Gaiman series American Gods for Starz, said, emphatically, “I would find a way” to continue to work on Hannibal if the property is picked up—regardless of the medium.