‘Hannibal’s’ Bryan Fuller on the "Obscure" Finale, Movie Hopes: "There’s a Few Ways to Go"

"I’m still hoping that we get to tell that story in some way," Fuller tells THR about a possible film continuation. "There is something in the novel 'Hannibal' that has not been done in any of the adaptations and I would love to explore that."
Brooke Palmer/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Hannibal series finale, "The Wrath of the Lamb."] 

That's all she wrote, Hannibal fans.

Saturday's series finale featured Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) joining forces to take down Francis Dolarhyde, aka the Red Dragon (Richard Armitage), once and for all via a complex plan hatched in Will's head. As the former FBI consultant helped Hannibal escape prison in order to tempt the serial killer into revealing himself, Dolarhyde caught up with the men to unleash a blood bath.

During the series' final scene Dolarhyde was indeed eliminated, but rather than celebrate, Will and Hannibal clutched each other on the edge of an eroding cliff. "This is all I ever wanted for you," says Hannibal right before the pair head over the edge into the watery abyss below and the end credits cue.

In order to get some closure on that final scene, find out what was supposed to come next and get an update on the potential Hannibal movie, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Bryan Fuller.  

Why did you want to end it this way?

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.

Should viewers assume one or both of them are dead given that this is a series finale now?

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.

How was it to craft that final moment between the two characters given their romance?

It came out of a conversation with Hugh Dancy. We were talking about [how] this last scene with these two characters had to be poetic and poignant and simple and clean. It seemed to boil it down to Hannibal saying, “This is all I ever wanted for you,” and Will acknowledging that it is indeed beautiful that thing Hannibal wanted for him, and realizing in that moment he couldn’t go back so he had to go over the edge.

Is there a story behind the final song during that scene?

Siouxsie Sioux is one of my favorite performers. I’ve seen her in concert more often than I’ve seen anybody so to have her write a song for the show is an incredible honor. We found out she was a fan of the show and Brian Reitzell, our composer, asked if she would be interested in it. She essentially said she hasn’t been inspired to write in a long time until she saw Hannibal and was inspired to write again. So it was quite a coup for us to be able to secure that song and include it in the finale. It’s a career highlight — I’m so over the moon that we were able to pull that off.


What kind of homages did you throw to Thomas Harris during the finale episode with some of the dialogue and setups?

There were a lot of things from the book that were prose, really, and not meant to be dialogue. We put it in actors’ mouths because it was so beautifully written and we wanted the DNA of Thomas Harris to be present in all of the episodes. There’s an interesting sequence in the last two where Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter say to Will the same line about playing games the darker the moon. It’s a reflection of their being both the devil and the angel on Will Graham’s shoulders and the fluidity of those roles. The text and the fetishization of the text was really all about the want to honor Thomas Harris in this adaptation.

Are there any characters you feel at this point are incomplete?

Alana Bloom is the one character who arguably has a happy ending. She gets to fly off into the sunset with her billionaire wife and live happily ever after presumably. If there were a season four that would come into question. For now it felt like that character deserved a happy ending and deserved to get away. Where the other characters were varying degrees of dirty, even though Alana got her hands dirty in the Italian chapter, she was an innocent who was corrupted by the circumstances and then somehow found her way back to an innocent life.

Are you still looking to wrap with a movie?

[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.

Have you given any thought to who you would have wanted to play Clarice Starling in your dream world?

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.

Are there any other venues where this can live on?

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.

Does the challenge then become telling a complete story for those who haven’t caught up with the series?

Oh no, there’s always a way to come into a story that gives new audiences and old audiences the same entry point with the same satisfaction of witnessing the tale.

Is there anything you’ve learned during this adaptation process that you’re now able to apply to Starz’s American Gods?

Absolutely. [Executive producer] Michael Green and I are very much taking a learned approach to adaptation. One of the things I loved about doing Hannibal was honoring the spirit of the book without necessarily keeping true to the specific plot points as came up for the characters. Sometimes changing a character’s story or swapping stories from the book so it felt new for the show. For instance, in this past season I didn’t want to see Dolarhyde bite the lips off and set fire to a woman. So it felt like a natural substitute to have Chilton set in that flaming wheelchair instead of Freddie Lounds. There are definitely instances in American Gods that we are shifting perspective on. Hopefully they will be as satisfying to American Gods audiences as it was to the Hannibal audience.

Were you satisfied with the Hannibal finale? Sound off below. 

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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