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Exclusive: Gillian Anderson talks role on NBC’s “HANNIBAL”

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HANNIBAL, the new NBC series that premiered last night to positive reviews, is about as dark as network TV gets. The series, written by Bryan Fuller and whose pilot was directed by David Slade (HARD CANDY, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT), takes Thomas Harris’ iconic star of book and film, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (here played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen) and unfolds his pre-RED DRAGON life over an entire season (if the show does well, maybe a few seasons), aiding FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as he hunts serial killers while the good doc himself is quietly killing and consuming even more victims.

The show has an impressive cast that’s also aided by veteran actor Laurence Fishburne (THE MATIRX) and, as the series arrives in its final few episodes, THE X-FILES femme fatale Gillian Anderson who, in a novel twist, plays Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier, confessor psychiatrist to Lecter, his only outlet in which he can unburden himself of the sanguinary secrets he holds. It was a role that Anderson was perhaps born to play.

“I’ve been in therapy since I was 14, so I didn’t have to research much,” the actress told FANGORIA on the HANNIBAL set in Toronto last month.

“I think that experience has done the most for me.  But as far as the character, I think the intensity of Hannibal informs me. I mean, he’s not going to get therapy from someone who doesn’t match his wit and intelligence.”

In serendipitous fashion, Anderson’s presence acting as female foil to Mikkelsen’s human monster has its roots in her legacy as Dana Scully, her beloved government paranormal investigator in THE X FILES.

“THE X-FILES started shortly after SILENCE OF THE LAMBS came out, and Chris Carter told me shortly after we began that Scully was in fact based on the character of Clarice Starling. And although this character is different, something about it feels like we’re on the same conversations, you know. It has come full circle. The relationship here is somewhat elusive. My character knows its serving a purpose, being with Hannibal and I think she feels protective over him. We learn that she is retired but he wouldn’t accept that, so now he is her only patient. They feed off each other, if you will.”

Since the act of feeding is so paramount to HANNIBAL’s “ick” factor, the show does not shy away from what exactly Dr. Lecter is eating or where’s he’s getting these meaty “protein scrambles” he continuously consumes. Anderson has her own ideas about the act of cannibalism.

“I know that it’s addictive,” she says. “Isn’t that wild? You get a taste for same species blood and something happens chemically and you want it again. It happens with mice…other animals…maybe I’m making this up? I don’t know! Maybe humans are tasty. When Lions taste humans they want humans and less buffalo. And that’s why I think [HANNIBAL] will do very well…everyone loves a cannibal, don’t they?”

HANNIBAL continues every Thursday at 10 p.m. EST on NBC. Check local listings.

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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