HANNIBAL: INSIDE THE MIND OF BRYAN FULLER
Interview by and copyright Edward Gross
TV SERIAL KILLERS: On the subject of Hannibal, what the hell is it with serial killers?
BRYAN FULLER: I think people have been fascinated with serial killers for a while. It’s not so much as an influx of serial killer stories, it’s about the inversion of the crime procedural. We’ve been living with our CSI’s and Law & Order for 20 or 30 years of crime procedural television, and looking at it then from an anti-hero perspective is a way of freshening up the storytelling and, for me, with the Hannibal project, when I was first told they were considering making it, I love those Thomas Harris books. There’s so much real estate in there that hasn’t been covered in any of the films, so personally I was of the mind, “There’s a treasure trove in those books that we can dig out and tell stories with.” I was really excited about going back to the source, and that source was the big inspiration for a lot of these crime shows. Thomas Harris really coined this genre of crime-procedural and the success of Silence of the Lambs and when Manhunter came out in 1986, that’s when you saw a lot of crime procedurals. That’s when the genre got a big push with people saying, “Look at this Michael Mann movie that’s so gorgeous and stylized, and we can bring a crime procedural to television.” So many different incarnations of those characters really all go back to Thomas Harris’ novels. I feel that unlike all of those other shows, Hannibal has a bullet proof bond that we’re going back to the source; we’re less derivative because we’re going back the original inspiration. That may sound like a bullshit excuse, but that’s what I’m telling myself.
TV SERIAL KILLERS: There’s that much material in the book that you feel the series can be inspired by?
BRYAN FULLER: Oh, yes, absolutely. In Red Dragon there’s five pages or so of back story where Will Graham says these are the things that happened to me in my past and this is my kind of confluence with Hannibal Lecter. We took those events and those references and made them a whole series. We know from the book that Will Graham was psychologically incapacitated when he captured a serial killer known as the Minnesota Shrike, Garrett Jacob Hobbs. That’s all we knew. So we got to craft what kind of killer Garrett Jacob Hobbs was, how that would have the impact on Will Graham and how that would bring Hannibal Lecter into the story in an organic way. So it’s about finding these great tent poles that exist in the book. There are scenes in the pilot that I lifted right from Red Dragon and put in there, so it was, like, “Thank you, Thomas Harris.” It was also to make sure that his DNA was in the show in genuine, authentic and respectful way.
TV SERIAL KILLERS: Are Will and Hannibal adversaries at this point?
BRYAN FULLER: What the history was, and we have a minor kind of buy, is that Will Graham was so damaged by the Hobbs case that he went into therapy and he was institutionalized. When he came out, he crossed paths with Hannibal Lecter and we’re shoring up that timeline so that when he goes into therapy to deal with this damage, that’s when Hannibal Lecter comes into his life. So we get him into a room earlier together, but the rest of the events take place as they’ve kind of been laid out in the Thomas Harris books and the mythology of those two characters and how they met. We’re slightly adjusting it to accommodate for our story, but it’s very authentic. We’re making sure that all of the elements happen. We have crafted a 13-episode season that is so intricately woven with all of these characters and the moves that they make, that it really was like sitting down at a chess board and saying, “Okay, we’ve got to get our pawns across the board, sacrifice and get our knights into order so we can really tell this story at a certain point.” I’m very proud of the work we’ve done in really crafting a season of storytelling.