You’ve talked before about season three completely reinventing Hannibal’s origin story. Can you be specific about what it was in particular you found dissatisfying about the one given in Hannibal Rising?
For me, in Hannibal Rising—it’s a book that I’ve never finished because there was always a point where something rang false about the approach and promise of a character who says, I believe in The Silence Of The Lambs, “Nothing happened to me, [Officer Starling]. I happened”. Then what Hannibal Rising suggests is that it took that statement away and refuted it and said essentially ‘no, actually what happened was Nazis ate my sister, and that’s why I am what I am.’ I felt very deeply that what was true to the character of Hannibal Lecter is that nothing happened, he happened. That felt more powerful. That felt more mythological in its origin story as opposed to ‘Nazis ate my sister.’
Did you ever consider just not delving into Hannibal’s origin story? You said before about the Star Wars prequels that seeing a villain as a child can de-fang them?
The origin story that we do in season three is very tricky in that we don’t do flashbacks. We meet people who survived that era and have a tale to tell about that experience. But they don’t tell the complete tale, and neither does Hannibal, so there’s information but there’s not too much information about his early life. Enough to suggest a story happened but not enough to detail anything that we felt would demystify our Hannibal Lecter in this series.
We were very tricky in that in terms of selling an origin story that was not necessarily a story, but a reference. That’s how we walked that very fine line.
– Bryan Fuller, Den of Geek, 5/29/15