Bryan Fuller talks Hannibal's finale, its future, and Clarice Starling
Hannibal's brilliant and often bizarre third and final season wrapped up over the weekend and it left many of us cursing the show's cancellation all over again. As upset as I am that we won't get to witness the further adventures of Hannibal and Will Graham, I'm thankful for what we did get, because if we're being honest, it was a miracle that Hannibal survived past its first season.
Series creator Bryan Fuller chatted with THR following the finale and offered up an explanation for the ending as well as teasing the possibilities for Hannibal's future. If you haven't watched the finale yet, there will be spoilers from here on out.
In the final moments of Hannibal's third season, both Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) embraced before plummeting off the side of a cliff into the watery abyss below. Fuller explained how the entire season was building up to that inevitable moment:
The story we were telling with Will in this season was one where a fated conclusion was inevitable. Early on in the Italian chapter, Will Graham essentially said, “I have to kill Hannibal Lecter or I’m going to become Hannibal Lecter.” He later finds deviation from that course with a family unit that gives him a grounding that he never had before. When he is pulled back into the FBI and Hannibal Lecter’s orbit, it’s essentially a drug addict returning to the needle and not being strong enough to beat it the second time. He realizes his original intention in the Italian arc is still valid and has to be respected. We knew at the end of this season it was going to be some sort of Sherlock and Moriarty off the Reichenbach falls.
If you're wondering whether that ending spelled death for the show's two main characters, Fuller says that their fates are left entirely up to the series' rather slim chance at a revival:
I don’t think you can assume anything. It’s very intentionally left obscure but hopefully somewhat satisfying for the audience. If there is a continuation of this story with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in those roles then of course they survived. And if not then it’s a big fat question mark.
With a fourth season unlikely, Bryan Fuller mentions that Martha De Laurentiis is currently looking into financing for a Hannibal feature film.
[Executive producer] Martha De Laurentiis is looking into financing for a film. I’m still hoping that we get to tell that story in some way. There is something in the novel Hannibal that has not been done in any of the adaptations and I would love to explore that with Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. I’m hoping that someday, whether it’s a year from now … two years from now … that we will continue to get to tell that story. I feel like if Will Graham did survive that plunge, his most interesting chapter is yet to be told.
While a feature film is very appealing to Fuller, he mentions that there are other possibilities that the series could take once things settle down:
There’s a few ways to go. The movie route is very appealing because we have movie actors. It would be great to see them on the big screen and we’ve always shot the show as though it were an independent movie with an independent film esthetic. Coming full circle in return to the big screen is very promising. But it would be interesting to discuss a miniseries or some sort of continuation of the story with another network once all the hubbub of this series has gone fallow. Who knows? Maybe there is an opportunity for us to address things with MGM and Clarice Starling now that the show has completed its run on NBC and there is an opportunity for a rebirth of sorts
Bryan Fuller wasn't able to secure the rights to Clarice Starling before the series ended, but using her character and "The Silence of the Lambs" story is still in the cards should Hannibal return in some form. Fuller then teased the different routes he could go in adapting Clarice Starling to his vision:
There’s two ways. If you were to go that traditional route, Ellen Page would knock it out of the park. She’s a brilliant actress and has a lot of the qualities that we remember about Jodie Foster’s performance but yet unique in her skill set as an actress. That would be one way to go. But I do think it would be interesting to cast someone who is not white in that role and use race experientially as a defining attribute of the character.
Hannibal lasted for three seasons and thirty-nine episodes and despite its premature ending, will remain one of my favourite television series of all time. That'll do Hannibal, that'll do.