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Bryan Fuller Explains NBC’s ‘Hannibal’

The "Pushing Daises" creator lays out his plan to bring Hannibal Lecter to network television.

When it was announced that NBC had ordered a "Hannibal" series based on Thomas Harris’ iconic serial killer, the obvious question was how Hannibal Lecter could be brought to life on network TV. For "Hannibal" screenwriter and executive producer, Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies"), the answer is deceptively simple: make it a procedural with a twist.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fuller spells out his plan to focus on the unconventional team of the yet-to-be-cast Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as they join forces to find killers while Lecter keeps his true nature hidden from his partner.

“It’s before [Hannibal] was incarcerated, so he’s more of a peacock,” noted Fuller. “There is a cheery disposition to our Hannibal. He’s not being telegraphed as a villain. If the audience didn’t know who he was, they wouldn’t see him coming. What we have is Alfred Hitchcock’s principle of suspense — show the audience the bomb under the table and let them sweat when it’s going to go boom. So the audience knows who Hannibal is so we don’t have to overplay his villainy. We get to subvert his legacy and give the audience twists and turns.”

That may be the premise at the beginning of the series, but Fuller also indicated that the series will eventually evolve when Hannibal is finally exposed as a killer himself.

“It really is a love story, for lack of a better description, between these two characters,” said Fuller. “As Hannibal has said [to Graham] in a couple of the movies, ‘You’re a lot more like me than you realize.’ We’ll get to the bottom of exactly what that means over the course of the first two seasons. But we’re taking our sweet precious time.”

“Doing a cable model on network television gives us the opportunity not to dally in our storytelling because we have a lot of real estate to cover,” continued Fuller. “I pitched a seven-season arc including stories from various [Thomas Harris] books.”

The first season of "Hannibal" will be 13 episodes long and it will likely air in 2013.