After several popular movie adaptations, author Thomas Harris’s iconic serial killer Hannibal Lecter got his own TV series – and showrunner Bryan Fuller created a distinct style. Initially, the story relied on the tension between a uniquely gifted FBI profiler (Hugh Dancy) and his complex relationship with the psychiatrist, Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), who’s helping him hunt serial killers, even though he’s secretly one himself. Lecter was also a cannibal, and Fuller emphasized the connection between beauty and horror, disgust and pleasure in highly stylized, sensuous ways, aided by a chef who designed Lecter’s morbid haute cuisine dishes. Surprisingly dark, violent and bloody for an NBC series, too off-putting for mainstream audiences, but intelligent and engrossing (when it didn’t become too full of itself), and boosted by two vibrant lead performances.
2013-2015:U.S. Made for TV. 39 episodes. Color. Developed by Bryan Fuller. Cast: Hugh Dancy (Will Graham), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter), Laurence Fishburne (Jack Crawford), Gillian Anderson, Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, Hettienne Park (13-14).
Last word: “When I first sat down with Mads Mikkelsen, he was talking less about doing this as Anthony Hopkins or Brian Cox and more like Lucifer. He wanted this character to be a fallen angel who had an affinity for humanity and a love for the human condition, but also could be very punitive in a hellish way that opened up the mythology of the character in a really cool way, added a new layer. It’s an idea that became a component of the production design. We have frames where fire is going on in the background, that sort of thing. We’re selling at that level, so I tip my hat to Mads Mikkelsen for wanting to come in and do the character not as a man but as a mythological character.” (Fuller, Empire)