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Hannibal Season Two Preview [VIDEO and PHOTOS + Cast and Creator INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC
Photo Credit: Michael Muller/NBC

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

We are ridiculously excited that this show is back. It’s dark and twisted and one of our favorite series on television. TV Goodness attended the TCAs last month and got a lot of great intel on what’s in store for us. Series creator Bryan Fuller and stars Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas give us some insight into this season and their characters, as well as tease new and returning guest stars.

On Season Two

Early in the first season, you were mixing procedural story lines that are building to the central mystery. Going into Season 2, do you see that same model moving forward or do you think things have blurred so much with the character changes that it’s become a new storytelling model in the process? 

Bryan Fuller: “Well, the thing that we kind of screwed ourselves with, with this show, is that every season is a new model, essentially. Before we get into the Red Dragon stories, we have three lost novels — is sort of what we are taking the approach to the show with. And so changing the paradigm from the first season where we had a case of the week — we still do that this season, but we actually spread out more of the soap opera of what’s happening with the characters, because all of the work that we did on the first season, now we get to pay off. There’s a lot of fruit that we get to go plucking.”

Having reviewed Season 1 is there anything you’re making a course correction on in Season 2, or are you exactly where you figured you’d be?

Bryan: “We’re pretty close to where we were going to be. What was interesting about this season is that we block broke the first seven episodes, which is the first chapter, and the first season was broken into two chapters.  So we broke the first chapter and then dove in. It wasn’t until ‑‑ because last year, he would be like, ‘What’s happening?’  We’d be like, ‘We’re doing this and this and this.’  And this year, he was like, ‘What’s happening after this?’ And I was like, ‘I have no idea.’ I was like, ‘I’ll tell you in December.’ And then we came back and broke the second half and explained that arc. So we’re letting the story tell us what it needs to be and letting it unfold in its organic way with what’s happening to the characters.  That’s kind of the fun of television.”

That framing device you chose to kick off the season with, can you talk a little bit about the decision to do that and why you set up this self‑fulfilling prophecy we are going to come back to?  

Bryan: “We knew how the second season was going to end, and I knew that I have Laurence Fishburne and I have Mads Mickkelsen, two guys who have a lot of experience fighting. I think Laurence last year, when Mads was fighting Tobias Budge in that episode, Laurence was, like, ‘I can do that, too.’ And I was, like, ‘Okay,’ we’re going to do that. And, actually, I just didn’t want to wait until the end of the season to see it. It was purely selfish on my part as a fan of Thomas Harris and a fan of these actors that I really just wanted instant gratification. So that was my main motivation.”

The first couple of episodes, you split up the case of the week, so to speak, across the two of them and that adds a lot of interesting twists and structure to it. Is that something you are going to play around with more, or would that just be too much serialization to have the case take up three or four weeks?

Bryan: “The first case was so ‑‑ kind of a big, operatic story with a human mural, and so we thought, well you just can’t do in one episode. So let’s spread it out. The first episode is almost Episode 14 from the first season, because we are kind of carrying where everybody was psychologically from the traumas of the first season. So we really needed the space to let that story be. But we do have some long arcs with the show. The run of 4, 5, 6, 7 are pretty big. Even though there are murders within them, it’s a story in and of itself. It’s a chapter where things get really bad for lots of characters.”

Hugh Dancy: “I think when the show really works is when those episodic crimes not just reflect metaphorically what’s going on between us, but actually play into the plot in some way and drive it forward. And that’s definitely the case of the crime in the first two episodes, right? I mean, going further down the line in 4, 5, that continued to reach back to that, and I think that’s when it’s most fun to play.”

Bryan: “And we have the ‑‑ you know, it’s like the metaphor of this killer who stitched in all of these victims to his art is sort of what Hannibal’s doing with all of these characters.  He’s just stitching them in slowly. So we want to have fun with those kind of storytelling elements.”

Caroline, your character now has taken a greater stake in this, feeling somewhat responsible for what happened in the first season. Can you reflect on where your character is in regards to those changes?

Caroline Dhavernas: “Well, her main interest is always Will and taking care of him and making sure because she always butts heads with other characters. We are so concentrated and focused on catching these guys. They sometimes forget to take care and be human about the people who are there around them, and their friends. So I think she will continue to be really focused on making sure Will is okay. And a true shrink, she wants him to heal and face what happened, so yes; and a little more kissing, too.  Someone had to do it.”

Bryan: “Lots more kissing this season.”

Mads Mikkelsen: “With the wrong people.”

Bryan, are we going to find out how Hannibal got Will to ingest the ear?

Bryan: “Oh, yeah. That’s in the first couple of episodes.”

Mads: “Yeah.”

On Will

Hugh, can you talk about getting into the head space of Will? Because he’s terribly troubled. 

Hugh: “Yeah. He’s not the happiest character I’ve ever played.  Well, there’s obviously ‑‑ other than Bryan’s scripts, there’s Thomas Harris’s book, Red Dragon, that I went to before we started filming the first season, and that’s been the template ever since.  It was just, as a description of a character from the inside of his head, the most rich material that you can hope for as an actor.

Will’s got where he’s simply depressed, where he’s depressed and in the spectrum, and then depressed and in the spectrum and suffering from encephalitis. Do you have different ways of approaching each of these phases?

Hugh: “Well, it was ‑‑ yeah, it was a slow, steady buildup, right, just starting from a place of basic depression. I felt last year, last season, that that spiral, that progression over the course of the 13 episodes was so well charted out, and Bryan had described it to me. He basically said when we started, ‘At the end of the season, you are going to vomit up in the air.’ And I thought, okay, that’s all I need to know. That gives me the trajectory that I need. And then, in the relationship with Hannibal and working with Mads and kind of going further down that rabbit hole, it all, actually, fell into place in a very straightforward way. And dark as it may be, it was incredibly fun and rewarding. In fact, the worse it got for him, the more I enjoyed it, which may be to do with me. I don’t know.  And this season, it’s even worse. So I’ve been very happy.”

On Dr. Lecter

Mads, a question about your portrayal with Dr. Lecter, one of the creepiest things I noticed in Season 1 is you don’t seem to blink. 

Mads: “Well, actually, I had an eye infection in one of the episodes, and I’m blinking quite a lot in that one. Well, I mean, it depends on the scene. Some scenes he will catch his fellow man with his eyes. Other scenes he will try to behave like a decent human being and blink as well. So it’s not really something I’ve thought about, but I think you are right. To a degree, he will capture people with his eyes for a while, and other scenes he will play a different guy.”

Hugh: “That’s not the creepiest thing about Dr. Lecter, just to be clear.”

On guest stars

Eddie Izzard was fantastic last season as a guest star serial killer. Any serial killer guest stars that you can tease for this season? 

Bryan: “We’ve got quite a few. Eddie is back. One of the great things about last season is that we had all of these guest characters that came onto the show and expanded the family, and most of them are back. We have ‑‑ Raul [Esparza] is back, playing Dr. Chilton. Eddie is back, playing Dr. Gideon, and we have Gillian Anderson back, and we have –”

Caroline:[Lara Jean] Chorostecki?  No?”

Bryan: “In the flashback.”

Caroline: “Oh, yes.”

Laurence Fishburne: “And we have Amanda.”

Bryan:Amanda Plummer. That was actually one of my favorite scenes in the show because she plays somebody who will make you think twice about going to get acupuncture. And she’s pretty fantastic. Jeremy Davies is joining us. Jonathan Tucker is joining us. We have a lot of fun with the guest psychopaths, and every time we do one of those guest psychopaths on the show, it’s serving as a metaphor for what’s going on with everything else with the other characters. So we are continuing that tradition, and it actually gives us a spine to the stories and allows us to structure a story around something so we are just not a freewheeling soap opera.”

On imagery and tone

Can you talk a little bit about where the stag imagery, the bull elk imagery, came out of?  What was the inspiration for that?

Bryan: “It was really organic to what was going on with the story, so I figured if Will is so traumatized when he sees this poor, severed staghead with a young woman impaled on it being picked to death by ravens, how would he break that down psychologically?”

Hugh: “Yeah, he’s so oversensitive.”

Bryan: “Yeah.  It’s fantasy. It’s not real. It’s not real.”

Hugh: “Just man up, Will.”

Bryan: “Yes. So he basically amalgamated the stag and the ravens into ‑‑ because if you look closely at the stag, it actually has feathers, so it’s a feathered stag, so it’s basically taking the ravens from that experience. And it’s all his first exposure to what Hannibal Lecter is capable of as an artist and a murderer, so that’s his sort of patronus in a way.”

Hugh: “My feeling was that Hannibal is ‑‑ like, from the very get‑go — that crime; he inserts himself right into Will’s dreamworld. He just knows enough or senses enough about Will that he implants himself in Will’s unconscious, and that’s why, as that symbol of a stag or the imagery of the stag develops and ultimately becomes Hannibal, that’s Will’s process of figuring out what’s being done to him. It’s also a cool excuse to do surreal imagery on a show that I think is in the books. I can’t wait to do the Red Dragon story. Because if you’ve read that story, Francis Dolarhyde has ridiculous hallucinations that will put Will Graham’s to shame. So that’s a very exciting, visual way of telling stories. Because I love cinema and I love imagery, so we’ve got to chockablock it into the story.”

Bryan, you mentioned earlier about how we’re almost in fantasy here. But also, you do have one foot in reality. How do you balance those two things? How do you balance keeping it real enough with the gothic fantasy elements?

Bryan: “Well, sometimes it gets imbalanced, because sometimes it’s like, OK, this is cooler if we do this. What’s cooler for the story and what gives us the psychology of the story. Because I’m more interested in the psychology than I am the reality, because it is a very troubled headspace. So I think it has to balance toward the psychology of what the characters need to go through and then we bend reality, but if we break it, believe me, we get reminded to step back. And we are a show in reality, but it’s heightened. It’s heightened.”

One of the challenges, obviously, when you are taking this material, is being loyal to it, but you really want to make it your own somehow. Can you evaluate how you think you did to achieve that in Season 1 and how you want to tweak it, adjust it, keep along that road of making it your own in Season 2? 

Bryan: “Well, what we had to our fortune was, as Hugh said, these great books that are kind of iconic for the genre. And for me, with crime and crime stories, I’m so ‑‑ I’m sensitive. I look at, like, dog videos all day to put me in a happy place to combat where we work. So, for me, part of it is stylizing the violence so it’s heightened and not real. What we do on the show is sort of purple and operatic because, if it were real, I couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t work on it. So we are borderline fantasy with what we do on the show. So that helps me be able to work on the show.”

Edited for space and content.

Season Two of Hannibal premieres Friday, February 28th at 10/9c on NBC.


Season Two Sneak Peek:

 Season Two Premiere Fight Scene:


All photos courtesy of Brooke Palmer/NBC.

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