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Hannibal EP Bryan Fuller Talks Season 3 and Gillian Anderson’s Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier [+ “Antipasto” Preview] 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead

Considering everything that’s happened between Hannibal Lecter and Bedelia Du Maurier in the series so far, it was a bit of a shock to see the good doctor seated next to Hannibal as he made his escape. What would put her there willingly? When and how did she decide he wasn’t a mortal threat to her? Why did she decide to go on the run with him? We’ve been on pins and needles since the end of season 2 — so, for over a year now — wondering when we were going to start getting answers.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

TV Goodness participated in a press call last month with EP/Showrunner Bryan Fuller. He gave us such great scoop on so many things, but for now I want to focus on all things Gillian Anderson. He talked about why Gillian’s back, her relationship with Hannibal Lecter and what we can expect from Dr. Du Maurier for the first half of the season.

In the season 2 finale all these people are left for dead. Then when we pick it up for the season 3 opener, you don’t really tell us what happened until episode 2. Did you always plan that?

Bryan Fuller: “That was always the intention all along. We left the audience with Hannibal and Bedelia. I thought it was very important to continue telling that story in the first episode of this season and almost giving the audience permission to move on from the first two seasons in a way that would both provide a yearning for needing to know what happened to those characters and also just plunge into the story that’s right in front of us.

So in a way, holding it off is narrative-hedging, if that makes sense. Not to be too crude, but hopefully with the anticipation, they’ll be more excited to see Will in the second episode after being denied him in the first.”

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

Can you talk about the decision to bring Gillian Anderson’s character deeper as Hannibal’s wife and making her more of an accomplice this season?

Bryan: “Well, really it boils down to this fabulousness of Gillian Anderson and more of her is always a good thing. We had so much fun working together in the first two seasons. 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 flesh out that relationship and get more of the chemistry between Mads Mikkelsen and Gillian Anderson.”

I love what I’ve seen so far with the relationship between Hannibal and Bedelia. It’s very complex; you’re not entirely sure who’s in control. Is Hannibal controlling her? Does she have a darkness to her? Would you say underneath it all there’s genuine feeling there?

Bryan: “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, Will’s relationship with Hannibal is a much more passionate one than her relationship with Hannibal. 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.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

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. 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.

Is Bedelia essentially Clarice from Hannibal?

Bryan: “No. That’s an interesting question because in that novel we see Clarice being brainwashed partially, but the big question is how much is she in control of her own actions. But she surrenders to the pull of Hannibal Lecter in the novel. For our purposes, I always wanted Bedelia to be driving her own story.

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 character, a strong female character [to be] 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. 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 were looking at telling that story in a different way in this series eventually. But he’s absolutely in control.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC

Is there any one character that you can look at and say “It’s really this person’s season?”

Bryan: “Oh, that’s a good question. In the first half of this season, the story is always going to be about Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter at the center. What I love about this season in particular in the first chapter is how great the ensemble has come together.

This is spoilery, so please thread lightly when writing about this. When we get into Alana Bloom’s story in episode 4, it was exciting for me to a) have listened to some of the reaction to Alana’s story in the second season — and there was a significant amount of feedback in terms of frustrations that she had been relegated to the girlfriend role, triangulated between Will and Hannibal and she wasn’t necessarily following her own story.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren/NBC

I was determined at the beginning of this season to make Alana as interesting a character as any of the characters in this season. Her change is perhaps the greatest from the first two seasons and the lengths she goes to to deal with her own damage from being in that relationship and finding out new things about herself as a result.

So I’m thrilled with what Caroline [Dhavernas] has done with that character. Having a long history with that actress going back to Wonderfalls, it was a delight to see her really shape the character’s arc in a new way, embrace these radical changes in her personality which having survived the Red Dinner gave us the motivation to really make a shift in her character.

So I’m thrilled with what we see of Alana and her story arcing out. But I do think that Gillian Anderson has a great role in the first half of the season with her arc and better understanding her relationship to Hannibal. We go to places and answer questions in the second half about things that we’ve hinted at in her history and we see those things come to pass in the second half as well as in the first episode.

I’m a big fan of the ladies and I love what Caroline and Gillian and Katie Isabelle have done with their respective roles in the first half of the season. That’s not even getting into Tao Okamoto, who is the new member of our cast. [She] provides a different perspective on the story as what we’ll discover is the first in a long line of Mischa surrogates that Hannibal has fostered from Chio to Miriam Lass to Abigail Hobbs and his instincts to both foster and corrupt the young women in his life that remind him of his sister.

Edited for space and content.


“Antipasto” synopsis, from NBC:

Having successfully escaped FBI capture, Hannibal Lecter is moving through the European landscape, with Bedelia Du Maurier in tow. But Dr. Lecter’s old habits and opulent tastes are still on display as he settles into a new identity and life in Florence, Italy, working at the Palazzo Capponi museum. Glimpses into the past help inform his relationship with Bedelia, a pairing not clearly defined as friend or foe.

Gillian Anderson Talks Season 3

Season 3 First Look:

Season 2 Supercut:

Season 3 of Hannibal premieres Thursday, June 4th at 10/9c on NBC.

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