| LOS ANGELES, April 1
LOS ANGELES, April 1 Liver and loin are served
up gourmet-style, young women are impaled on antlers, mushrooms
grow out of decomposing bodies.
Hannibal Lecter, one of the world's creepiest fictional
villains, is back, and this time he is not locked up but is a
respected psychiatrist with an appetite for art, fine clothes,
good food and red wine.
And he is hiding a very dark secret.
"Hannibal," which debuts on NBC on Thursday, is the first
U.S. television series about the infamous cannibal created by
Thomas Harris in his 1981 book "Red Dragon" and made famous by
actor Anthony Hopkins in his Oscar-winning turn in "Silence of
After five Hannibal Lecter movies and four novels, the new
TV series is based on just five early pages of "Red Dragon" and
serves as a prequel to the entire Hannibal Lecter book and movie
It combines solving a weekly, gory crime with the back story
of Lecter and his early FBI nemesis, Will Graham.
"As somebody who had read the books and was really a student
of Thomas Harris, I felt there were definitely aspects of the
literature that had not been explored," creator and executive
producer Bryan Fuller told Reuters.
"There was a great chapter of Hannibal Lecter's life that we
haven't seen in any of the movies or any of the books. We have
seen him incarcerated and as a young man, and I felt the most
interesting part of his life was when he was a practicing
psychiatrist and a practicing cannibal and who he was prior to
incarceration," Fuller added.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, best-known for playing the
villain in 2006 James Bond film "Casino Royale," takes on the
role of Lecter, bringing a sophisticated, alluring edge to the
"I didn't feel beholden to how he was seen in the films ...
I knew this Lecter had to be sexy, had to have a sensuality to
him, because he is a man who appreciates beauty," Fuller said.
INSPIRED BY SENSITIVE WILL GRAHAM
But it was the character of Graham, played by Hugh Dancy,
the hyper-sensitive criminal profiler who knows how serial
killers tick, that first intrigued Fuller.
"Will Graham has always been seen as a stoic, competent
investigator. What was appealing to me is that he is actually
very vulnerable as a human being because he has to imagine
himself as these killers.
"I thought it was an opportunity to really see the effects
on the human psyche of being exposed to terrible violence,"
The first episode of "Hannibal" is inspired by two brief
scenes in "Red Dragon" in which Graham recalls his emotional
breakdown over his investigation and fatal shooting of a serial
killer called the Minnesota Shrike.
The entire first season of the TV show - and the subsequent
four planned seasons - takes place before the plot of "Red
Dragon" takes off, and years before "Silence of the Lambs."
It focuses instead on Graham's mental anguish and his
growing friendship and trust in Lecter, to whom he turns for
emotional and psychological support.
Being a Hannibal story, however, the TV show also serves up
lashings of spurting blood, graphic violence and
delicious-looking meals of dubious provenance featuring liver,
lungs and loin.
Fuller said the violence is both a reflection of the horror
genre and the source material, as well as a means of
underscoring why Graham loses his grip on sanity by being
constantly exposed to such dark crimes.
"I thought we should have a certain amount of graphic
depiction because it honors the genre. I also wanted to be
respectful of the audience that is tuning in for the Hannibal
Lecter show, and that comes with certain expectations and
requirements," Fuller said.
In addition to its U.S. airing, "Hannibal" has also been
sold to broadcasters in Canada, Britain and several European
NBC is owned by cable operator Comcast Corp.