Bryan Fuller talks with BuzzFeed about Hannibal Season 3 and the upcoming Red Dragon storyline with a few interesting comments about Richard.
In the July 25 episode, titled “The Great Red Dragon,” Dr. Chilton says that Hannibal the Cannibal has “niche appeal,” but the Tooth Fairy is a “four-quadrant serial killer.” Is that a meta moment, poking fun at the television industry?
BF: Absolutely. That was very intentional. I wanted to say, “We get that this show is niche and that Hannibal Lecter himself — with his fussy aesthetics — [is] going to have limited appeal.” [With] the Red Dragon, who is a more accessible killer in his own right, there was absolutely a commentary on the show and its place in pop culture as well as the Red Dragon mythology coming into light in the tale we’re telling. I felt like it was pertinent enough to comment on within the parameters of the show.
Red Dragon is a story that’s been told three times before — first in Harris’ 1981 novel, then in Michael Mann’s 1986 film Manhunter, and most recently in 2002’s Red Dragon. How do you feel yours is different?
BF: Tom Noonan [played Francis] as this wonderful outsider, yet, in moments, captured your sympathy. Ralph Fiennes, up until the end of Red Dragon — which kind of unraveled under some really shitty pop psychology — was capturing the character from the book quite nicely but then had to play emotionally stunted in a way that was not true to the character or the book. It was just pop psychology bullshit and completely invalidated the character in my mind and was kind of a lazy catchall for the climax. For me, Red Dragon was such a confusing experience because I look at Ralph Fiennes in so much of the film and he’s brilliant and Anthony Hopkins is wonderful and yet there is a soullessness about the storytelling that prevents me from really connecting to the material. I thought he did a fine job and was so masterful as an actor, but a script convenience totally undermined a great performance.
Now we have Richard Armitage, who is closer to Ralph Fiennes’ interpretation but with a steelier character as indicated in the book where he wouldn’t fall for pop psychology. He is actually as smart as anybody in the piece, is military trained, and has a precision and meticulousness with his attacks that slowly begins to wobble under the duress of a human connection — not only with Reba McClaine, played beautifully by Rutina Wesley, but also Hannibal Lecter himself. There’s aspects that we’ve seen a couple of times before in previous adaptations that you will see again in this adaptation of the Red Dragon story, but informed with character dynamics that are completely unique to our series.
The episode opens with a really unsettling sequence where Richard twists and contorts his body — was that CGI?
BF: That is all Richard’s body. We talked at length about that because we wanted it to feel like An American Werewolf in London, that it was a transformation taking place and things were popping and locking and moving as he is becoming the Great Red Dragon. Richard did a lot of research into body movements and this wonderful dance style that he found and really explored and made his own. Richard was just a gem, such a fantastic addition to the series because he, like Mads and Hugh, is such a consummate professional and so well prepared for his role and collaborative. Richard would send me his journals for the character and then we would discuss what was going on between them — the them being Francis and the Great Red Dragon — and maybe he’s not as insane as you would assume!